When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him and behold a leper came to him and knelt before him saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him saying, “I will be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded for a proof to them.”
– Matthew 8:1–4
Can you imagine that scene from Matthew 8:1–4? like a leper, the most outcast in society, in culture, like the person that if you get anywhere close to them, they must yell so that you stay away because if you were to touch them, you would be considered unclean. We have become familiar with this term, social distancing during this global pandemic, the importance of staying away from other people who may have a deadly disease.
That’s how this leper lived every day of his life. Stay away from me, no touching, no hugging, no closeness at all with anyone, anyone, for all of his life. And so he comes and he kneels before Jesus and says, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean up.” At this point, just imagine the crowds. They’re like dispersing, they’re scattering. Jesus is standing there and people are wondering why is he not dispersing, scattering?
This Verse Reminds Us of Jesus’ Power
Lord, we rejoice that You change the leper’s spots and melt the heart of stone. All glory be to You for drawing near to us and cleansing us from sin. May we make Your cleansing power known.
And instead of dispersing and scattering, Matthew 8:3 says, “Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him.” Jesus could have just said, “Be clean.” He could have just said it, could have just spoke it. But no, he reached out his hand and touched him. He just went for it in a way that you can just imagine the crowd is like, “What is he doing?” Like this collective holding of breath as Jesus touches him. And he says, “I will be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. This is Jesus. We’re talking about good news in the middle of a global pandemic. We’re walking through the gospels and this is good news.
Matthew 8:1–4 Leads Us to Praise God
Oh God, we praise you that with the stains of sin in our lives that warrant not just social distancing, warrant eternal distance from you. Eternal separation from you, eternal judgment before you, the stains of our sins. Just think about all the stains of my sin. All the thoughts and desires and words and things where I’ve disobeyed you and things that I would shutter to imagine anyone else knowing, you know them all.
And yet you came to me and not just me, but each one of us who’s listening, who has the same story, you’ve come to us. You’ve not stayed distant from us. You’ve come to us in the person of Jesus and not just touched us, you took all of our sin, all the stains of our sin, all the judgment of our sin upon yourself. You became like more than dirty that we might become clean. You experienced the judgment, the separation, the condemnation we deserve.
Matthew 8:1–4 Leads Us to Thank God For Saving Us
Oh glory to your name for saving us from our sin, for cleansing us from our sin, for making us clean. God, we pray. We pray you would help us to make this good news known to everyone around us. God, help us not to be distant from people who don’t know you. Help us to make your good news of your grace, of your love, of your healing, cleansing, internally life-giving touch known to people around. God, we pray for people who don’t know you.
For people among the nations, we pray for unreached peoples each day. God, we pray. Please make the cleansing power of Jesus known through our lives, through our lives, who you have cleansed. God, we praise you. Jesus, we praise you for being willing to make us clean. And we pray that you would transform our wills to be like yours, that we might live to see other people experience your cleansing power and love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.