Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm20121114.htm
THRU THE BIBLE EXPOSITION
Matthew: Jesus As Israel's Messiah And His Kingdom
Part XIII: Christ As Israel's Messiah By His Authority, Matthew 8:1-11:1
A. Christ As Israel's Messiah By His Authority Over Leprosy
Lesson: Jesus' miraculous healing of the leper by touching him, and telling him to show himself to the priests with Biblical rituals and history dating back to Moses was meant to move Israel's Biblical priests to use their God-given position of influence to direct Israel's people to believe in Jesus as the Messiah.
- One question Matthew's Gospel addresses is: "Is Jesus is the Messiah, the King of Israel?" (Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978, p. 1337, "Introduction to the Gospel According to Matthew."
- That being so, the presentation of Jesus' credentials to Israel's religious leaders, the priests, whose office was established by God under His reputable prophet, Moses, was a very important presentation as follows:
- Christ As Israel's Messiah By His Authority Over Disease, Matthew 8:1-4.
- Right after Jesus had finished His important Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1-7:29, He came down from the mount and was followed by many people who witnessed what next occurred, Matthew 8:1.
- The multitudes saw a man stricken with the dreaded disease of leprosy meet Jesus there, and worship Him, saying, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean," Matthew 8:2.
- Jesus then astoundingly stretched out His hand and touched the Biblicaly quarantined leper, saying, "I will, be thou clean," and the man was immediately healed of his disease, Matthew 8:3.
- This was an amazing event, for "in the entire history of the nation there was no record of any Israelite being healed from leprosy other than Miriam (Num. 12:10-15)" due to a direct act of God in first disciplining her for sin, and then in forgiving her at Moses' intercession, Bible Know. Com., N. T., p. 37.
- It was also remarkable that Jesus had healed the man of this ceremonially unclean disease by touching him (Matthew 8:3), for Leviticus 13:45-46 directed that one diagnosed by the priest with leprosy was considered to tear his clothes, leave his hair untidy, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, "Unclean! Unclean!" so that healthy people separate from him as a man under quarantine for his illness! Thus, Jesus demonstrated His power to reverse an unclean state with a healthy, clean one just opposite how everyone else's touching what was unclean would only defile them!
- Furthermore, it is important to note that the Mosaic Law directed that if a man was cleansed from leprosy, he was to be brought to the priest and examined with an extensive ritual described in Leviticus 14:1-33:
- Upon being diagnosed as healed from leprosy, one was to have two birds offered in his behalf, one bird being sacrificed to picture purification and the other released in an open field to depict his new freedom from disease and liberty to fellowship with healthy folk, Lev. 14:1-7; Ibid., Ryrie, ftn. to Lev. 14:1-32.
- The healed man was then to shave off all of his hair, wash himself with water and wait another seven days in partial quarantine before repeating these same shaving and washing activities, Leviticus 14:8-9.
- Finally, the healed man was to offer trespass, sin, burnt and grain offerings, Lev. 14:12, 13, 21; Ibid.
- Thus, when Jesus told the man to say nothing to anyone else about his healing, but to go to the priest and offer what Moses ordered, this was meant to testify to the priests, Israel's Biblical religious leaders, that they could use their God-given influence to direct Israel to trust in Jesus as the Messiah, Matthew 8:4a,b:
- The Levitical priesthood was begun by Moses under Gods' direction in Leviticus 8:1-9:23a.
- So important was this institution in the nation Israel that, when the first High Priest, Aaron and his sons were initiated into the priesthood, God sent fire out from His presence in the tabernacle holiest of holies to consume the offering of consecration for these priests on the altar, an event causing the people of Israel to shout and to fall prostrate on their faces to worship the Lord, Leviticus 9:23b-24.
- Since no Hebrew since Miriam in Moses' era had been healed of leprosy, the healing of this leper by Jesus in Matthew 8:1-3 coupled with the man's testimony before the priests that Jesus had performed the healing (Matthew 8:4) in line with the Leviticus 14 directives was meant to move the priests to use their God-given position of influence dating back to Moses to tell all Israel that Jesus was the Messiah!
Application: May we trust in Christ, and use what influence God gives us to testify of Him to others!