In the Fulness of Time/Part 40

By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2007
In Matthew chapters 8-10 Christ presents His authority as the king by showing His prophetic claim to the throne of David. He does this by performing miracle whose purpose was to authenticate the message and the messenger as being from God. This month: The Great Physician.

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Introductory

In this section, Matthew 8-10, Christ presents His Authority as the King by showing His Prophetic Claim to the Throne of David. He does this by performing miracles. The purpose of miracles was to authenticate the message and the messenger as from God, such as given in John 20:30-31 (miracles as proof of Christ’s Deity and Messiahship) or Acts 14:2-3 (miracles as proof of the Apostleship of Paul and Barnabas). In Matthew the purpose of miracles was to prove His authority as King, as well as to attest His message and works as Divine.

The Old Testament gives the nature of the Kingdom to be expected and the conditions in it. Isaiah 35 predicts miracles as part of the Kingdom, and in Matthew 11:1-6 Jesus performs many miracles in the presence of the disciples of John the Baptist as proof to John that He, Christ, was indeed the expected “coming One.”

Thus, miracles are a foretaste of what the King will do if they will accept Him and His kingdom. This is also proven by Hebrews 6:5 which says that the people seeing the miracles of Jesus and His disciples tasted “the powers of the coming age,” the Messianic Kingdom!

His Authority over Medical Forces: The Great Physician. Matthew 8:1-17

Healing Leprosy: Cleansing the Defilement of Sin. 8:1-4

Matthew 8:1 “When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.”

The great multitudes who followed Jesus when He came down from the Mount may well have included many who heard the Sermon, plus others who had gathered. The “people” (7:28) who heard and were astonished at His doctrine would doubtless have told others of His unusual, authoritative teaching, so that they would also follow Him. The leper could have been near enough to hear the teaching of Jesus, and may even have heard about His miraculous cures before this time.

Matthew 8:2 “And behold, there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”

Note that the leper came to Jesus. We know from Luke 5:12 that this man was “full of leprosy,” which means that it was recognized as an extreme case of the disease. Under the Law such persons were to stay away from other people (the Talmud prescribed at least six feet) and to cry, “Unclean, unclean” (Leviticus 13:45). Also, his dwelling had to be alone and “outside the camp” (13:46), yet this leper made his way through the crowd and “wor­shiped” (literally, “bent his knees,” from proskunei) in front of Jesus.

The leper recognized the deity of Christ. Not only did he bow the knee before Jesus, he also recognized His sovereignty, “saying, Lord, if thou wilt,” and His divine power, “thou canst make me clean.” As we will see, from II Kings 5:7, only God can actually “cleanse” (katharisai) leprosy.

Matthew 8:3 “And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”

That Jesus deliberately touched the leper is significant; this would have made anyone else ceremonially unclean, but because Jesus is God He cannot be defiled! To the con­trary, His touch cleansed and healed many people. There were healings which occurred with only a word from Jesus, so this touch must also have been for the sake of those watching. Imagine their surprise and shock to observe an obviously clean man touching a leper! Note also that the cleansing was immediate and complete. Both Mark 1:42 and Luke 5:13 add that the leprosy “departed from him.” Later it will be mentioned that Jesus used many methods of healing; here it was a touch, but the results were always perfect.

Matthew 8:4 “And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man, but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.”

When Jesus commanded the cleansed leper to “tell no man” was it merely to prevent the crowds from hindering His ministry? Since Mark 1:45 indicates that the man disobeyed and told everyone, it caused Jesus to retreat from the city. However, it seems clear from Matthew 8:1 that this miracle was performed publicly, in the sight of the multitudes who were following Jesus. Thus, the command of Christ must be taken in its fuller context.

Christ also told the man to show himself to the priest and offer the proper sacrifices for a cleansed leper which would be proof from the priest himself of the cleansing (Leviticus 14:2). The fact is, only God can cleanse lepers. In II Kings 5:7 when Naaman the Syrian captain was sent by his king to be cured of his leprosy, Jehoram, king of Israel tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man send unto me to cure a man of his leprosy?” Even as faithless a king as Jehoram in Israel recognized that only God could cleanse a leper. Therefore, if only God could cleanse a leper, then if Christ cleansed this leper, He must be God! Further, if the priests and officials of the Jews saw a genuine healing of leprosy, it would be “a testimony unto them” that Jesus was truly the Messiah of the Jews.

There is no record that the cleansed leper went to Jerusalem, told the priest, offered the required gifts and went through the week-long ritual to prove that he had been cleansed by Jesus. But there is a curious reference in Acts 6:7, early in the history of the Church: “And the word of God increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Could there be a direct connection between the cleansed leper and this great company of the priests who were saved? We can only wonder, until, in the fulness of time, Jesus returns and things like this will be revealed to us in heaven!

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