Why did Jesus touch a leper even though they are considered unclean?

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The apostle Mark records that a certain leper came to Jesus asking Him for healing. The leper’s request expressed doubt: “If You are willing, You can make me clean” (ch. 1:40). The leper was struggling with three difficulties in his mind. First, as far as it is known, there was no record of someone ever receiving healing from leprosy since Naaman’s, 800 years before. So, why would Jesus touch a leper like him who is considered unclean .

Second, the Jews regarded leprosy as a judgment for sin, and hence it was called “the stroke” and “the finger of God.” The Jews believed that such sickness is the direct punishment of some kind of sin in the life of the person suffering with it. So, if this was a judgment, why would Jesus go against the will of God and heal the afflicted one?

Third, of all diseases known in the East, leprosy was the most dreaded because of its incurable and contagious character as it left horrific signs on its victims. For these reasons, according to the ritual law, the leper was pronounced unclean and shut out from the society. Whatever he touched was unclean. A person who was even suspected to have this curse was to show himself to the priests for examination to decide his case. If pronounced a leper, he would be cut off immediately from the camp of Israel and was doomed to live with other lepers.

The law didn’t even exclude royalty and high ranking officials. A king who was pronounced a leper would be required to give up his kingdom. In both OT and NT times, victims of leprosy were called “unclean,” needing “cleansing,” rather than “sick,” needing “healing.” So, how could the leper approach Jesus when the ritual law banned him from society?

But in mercy and compassion, Jesus replied to the leper’s request, “I will; be thou made clean,” and laid His hand upon him” (Matt. 8:3). Jesus knew that touching a leprous man meant uncleanness; nevertheless, He did it without hesitation. Immediately a healing wave passed over the leper. His skin became pure and healthy, his nerves restored and his muscles got strong. The rough, scaly skin that characterized the lepers, vanished.

Healing the leper gave the people faith that Jesus was also a spiritual healer and able to cleanse the soul from the scares of sin. Jesus came to this sick world to cleanse the sinners, whose spiritual sickness was more fatal than leprosy.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


 


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