Having left off teaching, Jesus descended from the mountain, accompanied by vast throngs of followers, and began to work a number of miracles which are recorded in this chapter.  First we have the instance of the leprous man, whose confession of faith is one highly to be valued and emulated: “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”  All of our Lord’s miracles are significant in that they illustrate the process of salvation.  Leprosy has always been seen as a type of sin, it being completely corrupting and ultimately deadly.  Just as leprosy cut off the Israelite from the community of his people, so sin separates the sinner from fellowship with God.

The only hope of this leper was in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But note that He does not claim grace as a right, as many are taught to do.  All too many people think God owes us something, and that He is obligated to try to save as many people as He can, though He must have the cooperation of man’s powerful will.  Such notions are biblical nonsense, and insulting to the character of an omnipotent God.  This leper was much better instructed.  He knew that God had the power to save, it was only a matter of His choosing to do so.  Therefore He acknowledges Christ’s power to make Him clean, admitting the only obstacle to be, “If Thou wilt.”  But this is a happy obstacle, for Christ is ever willing to cleanse the defiled, and rescue the miserable.  For our part, we only need recognize our deplorable condition, confess it to Him, and plead for His mercy.  The tragedy is that Christ is more willing to save from sin than men are willing to confess and forsake their sins.  The natural condition of sinful man is to think himself perfectly whole, when he is yet in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.  Rather should we be like this leper, acknowledging our corruption and our helplessness, and pleading for mercy based on nothing more than the good will of the Redeemer.  With such an approach Christ is well pleased.  “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”

Having heard such a touching plea, Jesus touched Him, and commanded, “Be Thou clean.”  It is interesting to see that Jesus touched Him, since to touch a leper was something forbidden by the Mosaic law.  Some have averred from this that Jesus broke the law, but I assent rather to Charles Spurgeon, who pointed out that the power of Christ to heal was greater than was the power of leprosy to defile.  I imagine the instant His hand made contact with the leper’s corrupted flesh, the cleansing was instant.  And so it is with the sinner.  Though God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and canst not look upon sin, yet through Christ He is well able to draw the sinner to Himself without contracting any defilement Himself.  “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”  “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

But salvation does not stop with the pardon of our sins.  Having been cleansed by Christ, the leper is commanded to run in the way of God’s commandments.  The ceremonies of the Old Testament were still in force, and therefore the leper is commanded to go straightway to the priests, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for the cleansed leper.  This would be a testimony to them of obedience and fidelity to the law of God, which the priests themselves were not always so apt to keep.  Every redeemed sinner ought to walk after the same course.  Once we have been cleansed by Christ, our duty is to discover what God commands us to do, and then proceed to do it.  By so doing, we offer to the world a testimony that we truly are new creatures in Christ Jesus, and that we live no more according to the lusts of the flesh, but by the power of God dwelling in us.

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