Friday, November 7, 2014

NTDS (10): Healing and Faith

Matt 8:2 "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."  NIV

Chapter 8 of the book of Matthew is full of lessons concerning healing and faith. The first example of this is when a leper comes to Jesus, kneels before Him and makes the above statement. There are many amazing elements to this event. First, it was very unusual in that day, for a leper to approach someone without crying out, “unclean.” The fear of infection from leprosy was so great, that this was the normal procedure to protect those who were “clean.”

The second unusual occurrence was, that Jesus let the man come right up to Him, but even more than that, He reached out His hand to touch the man! This was unheard of. It subjected Jesus to contracting this dreaded disease. No self-respecting rabbi would dare do this since they believed that, if someone had this disease, it must be because they were in some kind of sin. But of course, Jesus was nor ordinary rabbi. Not only did Jesus touch the man, but He also granted the man’s request and healed him. Matt 8:3 says, “ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.” NIV

This event comes on the heels of Jesus preaching what we call the Sermon on the Mount. In that discourse He spoke with authority and claimed to be the anointed one, who’s coming was foretold in the book of Isaiah. Now He begins to demonstrate that authority, showing His power over disease, demons and even weather. He offers proof of all His claims.

The healings though, go beyond just proving His power. They show His compassion and His desire to honor people’s faith in Him. This leper must have had tremendous faith in Jesus. He demonstrated that by his brazenness in approaching Jesus, but even more by his next actions. He knelt before Jesus. The English word does not do this justice. The Greek word is proskuneo. It is a compound of two words that literally mean coming near, prostrating oneself in homage and kissing, like a dog licking his master’s hand. He then addresses Jesus as Lord. He did not question Jesus’ ability to heal him, only His willingness. This man certainly recognized God’s authority was present in the man before him.

This is a wonderful example of Jesus’ love, compassion and ability to heal, but there is more to this story. In scripture, leprosy is often used as a representation of sin. The skin of a leper is “dead” because the nerves do not work anymore. It is a picture of us, before we come to Christ. We are “dead”in our trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1, Col 2:13). When we come to Christ in faith, acknowledging that He is the Lord, the only one who can save us from death that results from that sin (Ro 6:23), and we ask for healing from that sin, He heals us. He makes us alive in Him. Eph 2:4-5 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ”… NASU

Even the act of Jesus reaching out to the man and touching him is a part of the picture. Jesus reaches out to you and me at the cross. At the least in a symbolic way, when the man touched Jesus, he passed his leprosy (sin) on to Him. In turn, Jesus passed His “cleanness” (righteousness) to the leper. Is this not what Paul means in 2 Cor 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. NASU

Today, you are in one of two places. Either like the man with leprosy, having placed your faith in Jesus Christ, you have been cleansed by His blood, or you are still one who is “dead” in your trespasses and sin. According to the Bible, there is no other category.

If you are in the first category, rejoice that you have been saved, cleansed and healed by the blood of the lamb! If you are in the second, I pray that you will follow the example of the leper, put your faith in Christ and receive your healing today.

God bless you


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