When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Matthew 8:1-4)
Tell No One You Were Healed
Leprosy was the most dreaded disease of Bible times. There was no cure and death was a slow and agonizing process. Lepers were required by the Law of Moses to separate from all people shouting out “unclean” if they walked among a crowd. Following his sermon on the mountain, Jesus was approached by a leper who came and worshiped him. What makes the story incredible is to turn the clock back a short time when the leper heard Jesus was in the area. He knew his disease was a certain death sentence. How long he had been a leper is not known. For all reasons, there was nothing that could be done for him. Hearing Jesus was in the area, the man resolved withing himself to seek out Jesus and beg for healing.
As the multitude followed Jesus, the leper approached Jesus. This immediately created an awkward situation as those in the crowd fell backward from the leprose man. No one would have come near him for fear of contracting the disease. It took great courage and faith for the man to come to Jesus and worship him. Also, the man’s faith was so great; he told Jesus that if he were willing, he would heal him of his impossible disease. This was an incredible measure of faith to come to Jesus earnestly seeking what he believed Jesus could do. He did not ask Jesus if he could heal him but that he believed Jesus could heal him. Faith on this level was rare for those who followed Jesus.
The Lord immediately granted the request with a heart of compassion as he put his hand on the man and healed. The first miracle was the touch of Jesus. Leprosy created a world where only other lepers would touch their fellow lepers. Family members would have to abandon their loved ones. Leprosy took away the joy of touching. Jesus did not hesitate. He put out his hand and touched the leper, and cleansed him of the disease. Immediately the leprosy was cleansed. The feeling of the man at that instant was remarkable beyond description.
After Jesus heals the leper of the most terrible disease imagined, the Lord gives him strict instructions. He tells the healed man not to tell anyone. The former leper must go and show himself to the priest according to the Law of Moses and make the appropriate sacrifice. To be proclaimed clean of leprosy, the man would take two living and clean birds, cedarwood, scarlet, and hyssop. Following the examination by the priest, the man could return home. Faithfulness to the law was required even for miracles.
When the man returned home, it would be clear he was no longer a leper. The Holy Spirit does not tell us how he explained to his family his healing. Jesus knew it would be evident to everyone the leper was no longer a leper. There could be many reasons for the man to be cured of leprosy. Jesus forbade the man from making a public proclamation of his healing.
There is wisdom in the request, as difficult as it might have been. At first glance, it would be hard not to tell everyone what great things Jesus had done. To be cured of leprosy was one of the great miracles of the Lord. Yet, Jesus told the man not to tell anyone. There was a subtle lesson in the request of Jesus for the man to remain silent. Being healed of leprosy was a powerful manifestation of the power of Jesus but the greater mission of Jesus was to cure the heart. The former leper would rejoice in being healed of such a dreaded disease but he still faced the reality of death. Instead of spending his life telling how he was cured of leprosy, he needed to share the news of the man who was God that healed him and gave him eternal hope. His spiritual healing was more important. Be humble. Live without the accolades and curiosity of men. Be a servant.
It would be hard not to tell everyone from the housetops to the mountains of the healing but the man learned a lesson about what is more important than physical healing. Seeing the power of Jesus should have changed the man’s life. There is much to the story that longs to be told. Did the former leper become one of the early servants in the Lord’s church a few years later? There is hope he brought his family into the kingdom of Christ. On more than one occasion, Jesus told those he healed to tell no man. The greater lesson points beyond the physical healing to the one who brought the power of the Divine to show the sonship of Jesus Christ. It was a blessing for Jesus to heal the leper. What made the miracle greater was the obedient heart of the man seeking the blessings of God. Tell no man you were healed but tell everyone you are saved.