This text follows immediately after the Sermon on the Mount. I don't think the importance of this sermon should be missed. For Matthew concludes the sermon with this thought,
The Man With Leprosy1When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."
3Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. 4Then Jesus said to him, "See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Why were they amazed? Because Jesus spoke as one who had authority. If we keep in mind the scope of Matthew, we will remember he is establishing Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah who fulfills the Hebrew Scriptures. It may very well be that Jesus is being seen as speaking as a New Covenant Mediator, who is establishing the importance of God's law among the covenant people.
28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
It is quite possible that since Jesus is being seen as one who is able to institute the New Covenant and the Kingdom that the people may look to Him for answers. So what do we see? In verses 1 & 2 a man with leprosy comes to Jesus. He clearly sees Jesus as one who is in authority to free him from his bondage. This man sees that the law has bound to him to a state of uncleanness. Unless a covenant Mediator does something, he will remain in his uncleanness.
The man with leprosy comes humbly to Christ. He comes on bended knee. He asks Jesus if He is willing. Jesus is willing and cleans him of his disease. The man is then commanded to go and fulfill his duty as Moses required. He was to demonstrate that he had indeed been cleansed by the sovereign work of God.
A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." 3Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!"Today, we do not have ceremonial laws calling diseased men "unclean". However, Dear Sinner, is this not a type or shadow of what it means to be a sinner before God? Has not your sin declared you unclean and guilty before a holy and righteous God?
Perhaps you are an outcast where you live. Perhaps you have violated local customs and are seen to be "unclean". Perhaps you have cancer and your disease has made you feel ugly before men? Perhaps you struggle with pornography or alcohol or drugs or stealing or sexual immorality or lying or coveting. Come to Christ.
Will you see yourself as you truly are? Will you come to Christ recognizing that there is no one else with the authority to cleanse you from all unrighteousness? Come today and receive from Jesus the free gift of everlasting life. Enter into His perfect covenant that He has kept before God in your place.
Jesus is indeed willing to receive you.
See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.Today, we do not have priests to go and show ourselves to be clean as in Moses' day. Instead, I believe the text would apply in the life of the Christian believer to exercise wisdom in how he is to live his life.
We do not need to go and brag about how our lives in particular have been changed. For if we make the Gospel about ourselves, then we run the risk of getting men to look at us instead of driving the attention of men to Christ.
Instead, we ought to live or at least attempt to live in light of what Christ has done for us. We ought to govern our lives so as we grow in grace and knowledge of our Savior, we might learn to live consistent and godly lives. In doing so, we might gain an audience with our neighbors, co-workers, friends and relatives and perhaps even complete strangers to proclaim the Good News of what Christ has done in history on behalf of His Covenant people.
In conclusion, although this text was primarily for the Jew living under the Old Covenant, Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the Law and Prophets. He is the one who takes away the sin of the world. He is the New Covenant Mediator. He is the perfect Savior who will save His people from the their sins. As the Christmas message reminds us every year,
20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,c]">[c] because he will save his people from their sins."Merry Christmas