“When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant
When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.” And the servant was healed in that hour.”
The juxtaposition of these two healing stories is truly awesome.
The first healing is of a man with leprosy. I love the dialogue. “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” The leper has absolute faith in Jesus to heal. Jesus’ response, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Short. Simple. A matter of fact. But then, Jesus tells him to follow the ritual purification laws of the Jewish faith. Obedience to the law is key to what follows.
Then, we have a Roman centurion, a soldier with rank and privilege, a Gentile, come to ask a favor of Jesus, to heal his servant. Jesus offers to come and heal the servant (which would be a violation of Jewish law). The centurion responds with great respect for Jesus and the Jewish faith (“I am not worthy to have you come under my roof”). Then, with what Jesus calls the greatest expression of faith in all Israel, the centurion gives us all a lecture about what it looks like to have respect for true authority.
Jesus closes out this conversati0n by publicly stating that the Jews who did not believe in him would be removed from the kingdom of heaven and the Gentiles who did believe in Jesus would take their place. In these thirteen verses, Jesus transitions the criteria of righteousness from adherence to the Law, which grants authority to those charged with the Law’s enforcement, to faith in Jesus as the Christ. In a few words, Jesus reframed Judaism from an exclusively ethnic, Jewish religion to a universal one.
At that moment Jesus sent Jews and Gentiles alike a new invitation to the heavenly banquet. The required attire was to be clothed in the faith of, and in, Jesus as God’s Messiah.
So, why then, did Jesus instruct the cleansed leper to go directly to the priest, make the appropriate gift for ritual purification in accordance to the Law of Moses? I can only speculate but my hunch is it was just another way to get the truth of Jesus being Messiah before the religious authorities. The priest could not deny the leper had been miraculously cleansed. The leper could categorically state it was through the touch of Jesus, and all within the context of the Law and the prophetic hope of Israel. You gotta love Jesus!
Be a blessing to someone today!