Are You Asking for Jesus' Saving Help?
By: Elizabeth L. Creecy
Jesus was coming down from the mountainside after finishing His Sermon on the Mount (Ch. 5-7). At this point in His ministry, it was common for large crowds to follow Him wherever He went because of the authority He spoke when teaching.
Let’s say people couldn’t get enough of His captivating teachings because of the drawing power. Ironically, the truth is self-verifying. Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth and may even dismiss it, but one cannot forget the truth!
As Jesus was coming down from the mountainside, a man SUDDENLY approached Jesus. The man wasn’t any man, but a man society saw as an outcast. The man was suffering from leprosy. Some people say you can think of leprosy as today’s version of AIDS. Similarly, it’s a terrifying disease with no humanly discovered cure.
Now the Greek word for “leprosy” was used for various similar diseases affecting the skin. Some of these diseases were highly contagious. Just like today, people were terrified of getting sick. It seems not much has changed in the years from Jesus’ crucifixion to now.
Here’s how your life went if you were declared a leper:
First, a priest would declare if the disease was leprosy or not. (Back then, priests, under the Law of Moses, also served as physicians).
Once the priest confirmed it was leprosy, you were banished from your home and city. You couldn’t see your family either.
According to Leviticus 13-14, you were excluded from any social or religious acts.
You went and lived with other lepers until you got better or died.
You were considered and treated like you were “unclean.”
Now, perhaps the leper had overheard the Sermon on the Mount from a far distance. Maybe he was so overwhelmed with Jesus’ powerful words that the leper thought, “Surely a man speaking with such godly power and authority had God’s power inside of Him to heal me.” Of course, we can only speculate his thoughts. What we do know is that the leper desperately wanted to be healed. We also know he was bold and courageous enough to approach Jesus. Nevertheless, this brave man “knelt (worshipped) before Him.” He asked, “Lord, if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean(Matthew 8:2).
The leper took a huge risk coming to Jesus. What we can gather from the leper kneeling before Jesus is his great desperation, humility, and recognition of Jesus’ authority. It is not just the leper’s actions that display such truth. His words also revealed his faith! When the leper said to Jesus, “if You are willing,” – those words revealed the man’s faith and trust in Jesus’ authority and power in the matter of healing. The fact he said “if You are willing”suggests that the leper was allowing Jesus to decide his fate. Sense the leper was willing to accept whatever Jesus was willing to give him, it shows that the leper only wanted God’s will to be done in the matter.
He knew that if his disease could disappear, a priest could then declare him cured, but only Jesus could make him clean. The leper understood the HUGE request he was asking of Jesus. But, for the leper, it was worth it. He was hungry to be free from his chains, have his life back, and be reunited with his family and community. Notice all those things are also what God wants for us too!
The leper knew Jesus had healing power (Matthew 4:24). The only question was would Jesus heal him?
Notice the desperate plea of this man. He had a point of need. It was a need that was far beyond his control. A person’s point of need could be anything from physical illness, loneliness, finances to defeating the recurring sin in our lives!
Doesn't God often use our point of needs as a place in which He leverages to make Himself known?
Guess what Jesus did!
He reached out His hand, touched the man, and said, “I am willing. Be clean (Matthew 8:3).” Now, remember if you had leprosy, you were untouchable. No one was going to touch you out of FEAR of getting the infectious disease. The fact that Jesus touched the leper shows Jesus’ love, power, and His heart of compassion. Jesus also showcases His sovereignty over the Jewish law, which clearly stated no one was to touch a leper! Again, what Jesus did shows that He did not follow the law when it contradicted His Father’s way.
Do not let what the world says control you! Let God's Word control you!
Miraculously and instantaneously, the leper was clean! The man got his life back – he could return to society and his family. Jesus gives life. He wants us all to be healed and in a relationship with Him.
Jesus was willing and able to meet the social outcast’s most basic need. If He is willing to meet the leper’s need, don’t you think He will meet yours too if you ask and believe?
Now maybe you’re thinking, “Well, I don’t have leprosy. How does this relate to my life?” Well, good, I’m glad you don’t have leprosy! But you do sin. Similar to leprosy, sin is also humanly incurable. Likewise, only Jesus’ healing touch can miraculously take away our sins and restore us to really living.
Notice the leper came to Jesus and asked Jesus to do what He thought was best about what was going on in His life. The leper wanted Jesus’ will to play out in His life. The leper knew he could not cure himself and could only ask for Jesus’ help. We have to do the same. We must realize we need Jesus’ help. We have to realize that we cannot heal ourselves and that only Jesus can.
Our Savior has the power to cleanse anyone and everyone from the life-sucking disease of sin. Jesus, and He alone, has the qualifying authority and power to cleanse a person from sin, empowering them to be a worshiper!
Do you know what two warnings Jesus gave the healed leper?
To not tell anyone about what just happened
To go to the priest and let him examine you
Jesus told the leper not to tell anyone of this great miracle because He knew better (John 2:24-25). Jesus was not finished with His apostleship, His mission. He was to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God. At this time in Jesus’ ministry, He didn’t want people constantly coming to Him for a miracle or only to benefit from His powers. Jesus wasn’t interested in being a miracle worker. He wanted to be people’s Savior! Ultimately, He wished to keep His full messiahship hidden until after the Resurrection.
Likewise, sometimes we have to keep our bigger goals, or the plans God has shared with us, individually, a secret because people may not understand or may get in the way.
Jesus wanted the man to go right to the priest to give his testimony. He wanted the priest to declare the leper healed, allowing him to be restored to his community. Jesus showed religious authorities that he was not anti-law but that He was the only one who could fulfill the law. The healed man’s testimony would highlight the truth – that the one who heals lepers had come. People believe this was one of the signs of the Messiah (Matthew 11:5).
Where is God using your need(s) to draw your attention to Him?
Where are you not turning to God with your needs?
When was the last time you confessed your need for God?
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your everlasting grace and love. I ask You to show me where I need my attention drawn to You. God help me to see where I am not turning to You for my needs but to the world. Father, if I am living out of Your will in any area, please make that come real to me. Help me to live Your will for my life and no one else’s. Thank You for your grace, hope, faith, and unconditional love. In Jesus’ name, amen.