Jesus Cleanses the Unclean (Numbers 5:1–4) - Radical

Jesus Cleanses the Unclean (Numbers 5:1–4)

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying command the people of Israel that they put out of the camp everyone who is leprous or has a discharge, and everyone who is unclean through contact with the dead. You shall put out both male and female, putting them outside the camp, that they may not defile their camp in the midst of which I dwell. And the people of Israel did so and put them outside the camp. As the Lord said to Moses, so the people of Israel did.”
– Numbers 5:1–4

Get the picture. I want you just to imagine having leprosy and this command comes that you are to be put outside the camp, away from your family, away from your community, and on a physical level, this obviously made sense in that day. The reality is, in the lack of modern of medicine that we have, there was so much opportunity for any number of things to spread in the camp of God’s people and so there’s a picture here of protection and provision, but it’s also just hard to imagine being a leper.

Jesus alone is able to take the most unclean and make them clean. He has taken our sins upon Himself to make wretched sinners clean in Him.

This Verse Praises Jesus for His Purity

So you fast forward, even to the day of Jesus, and so you see lepers and the practice was if you were leprous and anybody got near you, you were to yell out, “Unclean, unclean,” like don’t come close to me. You don’t want to be defiled by me. You don’t want to get near what I have. So, when you turn the pages of the New Testament, you find in Luke 5, that Jesus came to a man with leprosy.

You can almost picture it. Every Jewish person yelling, “Don’t touch him. Don’t touch him, you’ll be unclean,” and to everyone’s shock, Jesus doesn’t just speak to him, he goes over. You look at it, Luke chapter 5, verses 12 through 16. He touches him. The beauty is Jesus doesn’t become unclean. Instead, the man becomes clean, when Jesus touches him. The power of Jesus to make the unclean clean. This is an awesome picture in the New Testament, to see that Jesus is able to do what Moses couldn’t do. No priest could do. The Son of God, God in the flesh, is able to take the most unclean and make them clean.

Numbers 5:1–4 Thanks Jesus for Wiping Our Sin Clean

He is even willing to share in defilement, touching those who are unclean in order that they might be made clean. This is a picture of the gospel. Jesus has taken our defilement, our sin, the payment, penalty for our sin upon himself, so that we might be clean, pure, righteous, holy before God the Father, cleansed totally from our sin. He experienced the effects of our sin, defiled in that way, so that we might have all of our shame and all of our sin totally removed, so that we can be clean before God.

Oh Jesus, we exalt you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming to us, for experiencing, willingly enduring the penalty of our sin, for taking the shame of our sin upon yourself on the cross. Jesus, we praise you for the cross. We praise you for coming to us in our sinfulness, for taking our sinfulness upon yourself. Think about 2 Corinthians. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us. Thank you, Jesus, that we might become the righteousness of God, that we might be clean and holy, so that right now, I, as I’m praying, and other followers of Jesus, as we’re praying right now, we are clean before you, God. We’re righteous before you.

Numbers 5:1–4 Prays for Others to Be Brought to Salvation

We should be yelling, “Unclean, unclean.” We’re not allowed to be in the presence of God, but here we are praying, clean and righteous before you. All glory be to your name. Jesus, we love you. We praise you. We praise you with all of our hearts. Thank you, thank you, thank you for dying for our sin, for taking our shame and our sinfulness upon yourself and making us righteous before you. God thank you for making this salvation possible. And God we pray, in light of this, God help us. Help us to bring others to you.

Today, God, help us to share the gospel with others today. That other people might know this. Other people might be made clean before you. God we pray, use us in our workplace, in our homes and in our neighborhoods today. Please, oh God give us boldness to share the gospel, that somebody else today might be made clean before you. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!