There were altogether three of these Galilean Tours of Jesus in and around me.
We have looked at the Opening Tour, then we have this one and then there is the Second Tour.
During this lecture we going to look at the first miraculous healing of a lonely dying leper.
Listen what Matthew recorded it:
Matthew 9:1 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.
Matthew 9:2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
During this first tour Jesus met a tax collector and communicated with him. And to the dismay of the religious fraternity of our day this was not theologically correct.
Listen how Matthew describes this unusual decision of Jesus:
Matthew 9:9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.
He gave a stigmatized outcast a new identity. And eventually this man wrote the story of Jesus which became part of the Bible.
Matthew 12:1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.
Matthew 12:2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”
And now for the last miracle that Jesus performed on His first missionary tour:
Matthew 12:9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue.
Matthew 12:10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.
Matthew 12:11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?
Matthew 12:12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Matthew 12:13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.
Many years ago Bernard of Clairvaux, 1091–1153 wrote these precious thoughts about Jesus:
1. Jesus, the very thought of thee with sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far thy face to see and in thy presence rest.
2. Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame, nor can the mem’ry find
A sweeter sound than thy blest name, O Savior of mankind!
3. O hope of ev’ry contrite heart, O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind thou art! How good to those who seek!
4. Jesus, our only joy be thou, as thou our prize wilt be;
Jesus, be thou our glory now, and thru eternity.
Let us go back a little and read what Mark in his gospel wrote about the following amazing miracle.
Mark 1:38 But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”
Mark 1:39 And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.
Mark 1:40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Mark 1:41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
Mark 1:42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.
Mark 1:43 And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once,
Mark 1:44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Mark 1:45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.
A multitude of people had witnessed the healing of the leper, and they were eager to learn of the priests’ decision. When the man returned to his friends, there was great excitement.
Notwithstanding the caution of Jesus, the man made no further effort to conceal the fact of his cure. It would indeed have been impossible to conceal it, but the leper published the matter abroad.
Thinking it was only the modesty of Jesus which laid this restriction upon him, he went about proclaiming the power of this Great Healer. He did not understand that every such manifestation made the priests and elders more determined to destroy Jesus.
The restored man felt that the boon of health was very precious. He rejoiced in the vigour of manhood, and in his restoration to his family and society, and felt it impossible to refrain from giving glory to the Physician who had made him whole.
But his act in blazing abroad the matter resulted in hindering the Saviour’s work. It caused the people to flock to Him in such multitudes that He was forced for a time to cease His labours.
Every act of Christ’s ministry was far-reaching in its purpose. It comprehended more than appeared in the act itself. So in the case of the leper. While Jesus ministered to all who came unto Him, He yearned to bless those who came not.
While He drew the publicans, the heathen, and the Samaritans, He longed to reach the priests and teachers who were shut in by prejudice and tradition. He left untried no means by which they might be reached. In sending the healed leper to the priests, He gave them a testimony calculated to disarm their prejudices.
The Pharisees had asserted that Christ’s teaching was opposed to the law which God had given through Moses; but His direction to the cleansed leper to present an offering according to the law disproved this charge.
It was sufficient testimony for all who were willing to be convinced.
Jesus was such a considered and loving Saviour. I am so glad He spent such loving, caring times, healing the many sick people that He came across.
The leaders at Jerusalem had sent out spies to find some pretext for putting Christ to death. He responded by giving them an evidence of His love for humanity, His respect for the law, and His power to deliver from sin and death. Thus He bore witness of them:
Psalm109:5 Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, And hatred for my love.
He who on the mount gave the precept, “Love your enemies,” Himself exemplified the principle, not rendering evil for evil
Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
The same priests who condemned the leper to banishment certified his cure. This sentence, publicly pronounced and registered, was a standing testimony for Christ.
And as the healed man was reinstated in the congregation of Israel, upon the priests’ own assurance that there was not a taint of the disease upon him, he himself was a living witness for his Benefactor.
Joyfully he presented his offering and magnified the name of Jesus. The priests were convinced of the divine power of the Saviour. Opportunity was granted them to know the truth and to be profited by the light.
Rejected, it would pass away, never to return. By many the light was rejected; yet it was not given in vain. Many hearts were moved that for a time made no sign.
During the Saviour’s life, His mission seemed to call forth little response of love from the priests and teachers; but after His ascension “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:7.
The work of Christ in cleansing the leper from his terrible disease is an illustration of His work in cleansing the soul from sin. The man who came to Jesus was “full of leprosy.” Its deadly poison permeated his whole body.
The disciples sought to prevent their Master from touching him; for he who touched a leper became himself unclean. But in laying His hand upon the leper, Jesus received no defilement. His touch imparted life-giving power.
The leprosy was cleansed. Thus it is with the leprosy of sin,—deep-rooted, deadly, and impossible to be cleansed by human power.
“The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores.”
Isaiah 1:5, 6.
But Jesus, coming to dwell in humanity, receives no pollution. His presence has healing virtue for the sinner. Whoever will fall at His feet, saying in faith, Mat 8:2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Mat 8:3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
In some instances of healing, Jesus did not at once grant the blessing sought. But in the case of leprosy, no sooner was the appeal made than it was granted.
When we pray for earthly blessings, the answer to our prayer may be delayed, or God may give us something other than we ask, but not so when we ask for deliverance from sin. It is His will to cleanse us from sin, to make us His children, and to enable us to live a holy life.
Christ “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Galatians 1:4.
1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
1 John 5:15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.
In the healing of the paralytic at Capernaum, Christ again taught the same truth. It was to manifest His power to forgive sins that the miracle was performed. And the healing of the paralytic also illustrates other precious truths. It is full of hope and encouragement, and from its connection with the cavilling Pharisees it has a lesson of warning as well.
Like the leper, this paralytic had lost all hope of recovery. His disease was the result of a life of sin, and his sufferings were embittered by remorse. He had long before appealed to the Pharisees and doctors, hoping for relief from mental suffering and physical pain.
But they coldly pronounced him incurable and abandoned him to the wrath of God. The Pharisees regarded affliction as an evidence of divine displeasure, and they held themselves aloof from the sick and the needy. Yet often these very ones who exalted themselves as holy were more guilty than the sufferers they condemned.
Next time I am going to tell you of certain man who lived on my shores. He started out as a healthy young man but all he sought was self-satisfaction. He did not care about his body as long as he could enjoy what he was craving for.
My waves thought he was a hopeless case. Come and listen how Jesus changes hopeless cases.
The next highlight is the healing, spiritual, emotional and physical of a paralytic who messed up his life.