Monday 28 February 2022

Bible Book:

... and there was a leper who came to him. (v. 2)

Matthew 8:1-4 Monday 28 February 2022

Psalm 146


Matthew follows his first account of Jesus’ teaching (the section that we know as the ’Sermon on the Mount’) with a series of miracle stories. That the crowd which has been listening to the ‘sermon’ is still following Jesus indicates that the first of these miracles is witnessed by many who would earlier have heard Jesus explain his attitude to the Law. Jesus had indicated that he had come not to abolish the requirements of the Law (see Matthew 5:17) but he that he was calling people to a life that went further in its adherence to God’s ways (eg, Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 33-37). This first miracle can be seen as an illustration of what that means.

Attitudes to those with skin disease (and it seems that this is a broader category than the leprosy known to modern medicine) were shaped by the prescriptions found in the book of Leviticus. Lepers were to be kept away from the rest of society (so that no one would be contaminated by their ‘uncleanness’ ). A leper could only rejoin society when a priest certified that he or she had been cleansed. Leviticus 13-14 lays out the elaborate ritual for the cleansing: there was a sacrifice, a period of isolation for seven days, an anointing, and a second sacrifice. Presumably, when Jesus sent the leper to the priest (v. 4), it was to participate in these rites. The Law would be kept.

But Jesus had also gone beyond the Law. He had reached out and touched the leper. It was a dramatic, public act which had a dramatic consequence as the man was immediately healed (v.3). Knowing how the tensions in the gospel story will develop, we are left to wonder which the crowd thought more remarkable – the way that Jesus was not afraid to touch the ‘untouchable’ or the cure.

To Ponder:

  • Why do you think Jesus sent the leper to the priest if he was already cured?
  • Have you had coronavirus or reported a positive lateral flow test and been instructed to self-isolate? How did it feel not to be able to associate with others?


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