Matthew records way back in chapter 4 that Jesus was, “…healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.” But to this point in Matthew’s account, we have not seen what that healing ministry looked like. Now, at the beginning of chapter 8, we have our first glimpse.
A man comes to Jesus with a serious skin disease. Skin diseases range from temporary and short lived infections to long term debilitating conditions. Their typical manifestation as immediately obvious meant the victim was almost certainly ostracized, especially as Leviticus 13-14 speaks extensively about the ‘unclean’ nature of such diseases, and the required quarantine in Jewish culture. That quarantine could be a few days, or it could mean a lifetime of living outside the city walls. It is likely the man in this story had a very severe skin disease that was both obvious and debilitating, because He comes to Jesus of His own account and seemingly out of desperation.
“A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.”
We tend to focus on the last six words, “he was cured of his leprosy.” On occasion, we make a formula out of it by focusing on what the man did. We note that the man came before the Lord, that He humbled himself before the Lord (kneeling down) and that He confessed that Jesus was Lord. Finally, he asked that he be healed if the Lord’s should will it. Yet all that focus belies our tendency to make this story about us – as though what we do and how we do it provides the mandate for Jesus to heal. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is that this story is more about Jesus than it is about us. It is part of the revelation of who Jesus is and who the Father who sent Him is. If we look at the story from that perspective, we see that Jesus immediately reached for the man. We see that Jesus touched him even before He spoke to him – in fact, that Jesus is willing to touch the one no one else would touch! We hear Him say that He is willing. We listen as He speaks an impossible truth into existence, and only then do we see that the man is healed.
It is true of course that this story is a story of faith in action. But the far greater thing is that God is real. That God really loves the unlovable. That God is reaching for the unredeemed even before they hear the sound of His Voice. That God is willing to rescue and redeem and heal. That God can and does speak impossible truths into reality. With only so much as a word from His lips, lives and eternities are changed!
If we see our world through our own eyes, we see only fault, limitation and brokenness. If we see ministry through our own eyes, we see only determination, action and works. If we see our world through God’s eyes, we see hope, wonder and restoration. If we see ministry through God’s eyes, we see compassion, supernatural power and miracle.
Your real life is your own God-given opportunity to see the miracles he can accomplish through a weak preacherRaymond C. Ortlund Jr.
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph 4:16).
What is your part in that work?