Unclean and Unwanted Become Clean and Wanted
Matthew 8:1-3 is a brief but powerful passage in the New Testament that describes a miraculous healing performed by Jesus Christ. In this passage, a leper approaches Jesus and asks to be healed. Let's take a closer look at the details of this story and consider what it might have to teach us.
First, let's examine the context of this passage. Matthew 8 comes directly after the famous Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus lays out his teachings and moral philosophy for his followers. It is significant that this healing occurs immediately after this important teaching, as it demonstrates the practical application of Jesus' principles in real life.
The story begins with a leper coming to Jesus and falling on his knees before him. Leprosy was a highly stigmatized and contagious disease in Jesus' time, and lepers were often forced to live outside of cities and villages, cut off from society. This leper's boldness in approaching Jesus despite his condition is a testament to his faith and desperation for healing.
The leper addresses Jesus with the phrase, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." This statement is notable for a few reasons. First, the leper addresses Jesus as "Lord," acknowledging him as a figure of authority and power. Second, the leper expresses his belief in Jesus' ability to heal him, but leaves the decision of whether to do so up to Jesus. This shows a humble trust in Jesus' judgment and will.
In response to the leper's request, Jesus reaches out and touches him, which was a highly unusual action in that time and place. Touching a leper was not only considered socially taboo, but could also result in contracting the disease. However, Jesus' touch does not result in his own contamination, but instead heals the leper.
Jesus then commands the leper to go and show himself to the priest, as was required in the Jewish law for a leper who had been healed to be readmitted to society. This demonstrates Jesus' respect for the laws and traditions of his culture, while also showing that he is able to override them in order to bring about healing.
This story has several important lessons for us to consider. First and foremost, it emphasizes the power of faith and trust in Jesus. The leper's boldness in approaching Jesus, his belief in Jesus' ability to heal him, and his willingness to submit to Jesus' will are all examples of a strong faith that can bring about miraculous results.
Second, the story shows the importance of compassion and empathy in the face of suffering. Jesus' willingness to touch the leper, despite the social taboo and risk of contamination, demonstrates his deep compassion for those who are marginalized and suffering.
Finally, the story emphasizes the importance of following the laws and traditions of one's culture, while also recognizing when they need to be overridden in order to do what is right and just. Jesus' command for the leper to go and show himself to the priest demonstrates his respect for the Jewish law, but his decision to touch the leper and heal him shows that he is able to go beyond the law when necessary.
In conclusion, Matthew 8:1-3 is a powerful story of faith, compassion, and healing. It teaches us important lessons about the power of faith, the importance of compassion in the face of suffering, and the need to balance respect for cultural traditions with a willingness to do what is right and just.