A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.
Summary—Jesus was proclaiming His message throughout Galilee when confronted by a potential hindrance to this ministry: a leper came to Him for healing. Well, the leper himself wasn’t the hindrance—Jesus delighted to heal him—but, Jesus wasn’t so shortsighted: He knew full well that the man would talk…and that his talking would draw the same crowds who endure timeshare presentations for cruise tickets. That’s why Jesus, when He healed this leper, sternly warned him not to spread the news—Jesus wanted to get His message to those who were ready for it, and it’s tough to find those who want condos in Ft. Lauderdale while being mobbed by those who want boat rides to Nassau. Each town’s attention needed to be on Jesus’ gospel, and this fellow directing every spiritually-disinterested hospital patient to Jesus, MD, wasn’t going to help that. And it didn’t. The now-healed man disobediently spread the word, with the result that “Jesus could no longer go into a town openly.”
Insight—If and when God blesses you physically or materially, give thanks (!); but, be careful about “spreading the word” to those who haven’t yet come to Christ. If God heals you of cancer, praise Him, and spread the word among the faithful; but, don’t tell your story in a cancer ward as a segue to the gospel! If you went from Gas Attendant to CEO the day after coming to Christ, thank God; but, don’t tell your story while evangelizing a homeless shelter! Jesus’ “stern warning” to the leper is His stern warning to you: don’t mention His physical or material blessings if doing so will interest people in professing faith for the wrong reasons.
Child Catechism—Does Jesus promise immediate health and wealth in the gospel? No, Jesus calls us to forsake everything and follow Him.
Discussion—Have you seen any Christian films which suggest that submitting to Christ entails immediate, material prosperity?
Prayer—Father, having given us Christ, our greatest Treasure, You withhold no good thing from us. But, not all things that will be good for us, in Your presence, are best for us, now. Indeed, he who would seek Your City must pass through many trials and deep water to attain the weight of glory across it. Keep us Your faithful witnesses, calling all men to lose their lives in order to find them, and displaying a faith in future grace which persuades those around us that Christ, through whom we pray, is the hope of glory. Amen.
Contributed by Scott Cline