The elites of Pharisaic Judaism of first century Israel were always looking out for false Messiahs, or at least those that might interfere with their authority. So, they came up with a number miracles that the true Messiah must perform before he was to be recognized by them. What the common people thought was secondary, after all the Pharisees considered them inferior and definitely unqualified to recognize the Messiah. Their arrogance aside false prophets and messiahs had come and gone.
In the Old Testament, God performed righteous, actual miracles thru men like Moses, Elijah and Elisha. People were healed and the dead brought back to life but they were done by God to authenticate the prophetic calling of these men. No one is recorded as regarding or outright proclaiming one of them to be the promised Messiah. Then along came Yeshua.
The many miracles he performed and are recorded in the Gospel accounts wowed the people so much they proclaimed “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!” But the religious establishment would do their best (with significant success) to convince the people he was demon possessed. So in a series of postings let’s explore three mighty acts no one but the Messiah could perform shall we? First, the healing of a leper.
The Healing of a Leper per Matthew 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45 and Luke 5:12-16.
We know differently now but in ancient times any condition causing the skin to have white and flakey characteristics were all assumed to be what we know as full-blown Leprosy. For instance, the illness God punished Miriam with was transient lasting just seven days (Num. 12:10-15).
Lepers were considered unclean physically and spiritually emblematic of sinfulness. They, as well as the blind, the poor and the childless were considered dead before God. In the case of a leper it was feared that whatever evil he had done to bring the malady onto himself could be passed to others, e.g., the four “lepers” who were forced to live outside Samaria (II Kings 7:3–10) and King Uzziah, who was permanently quarantined in separate quarters (II Chron. 26:19–21). Naturally, they were highly ostracized.
They definitely couldn’t go and come from the Temple like everyone else. They had to arrive before and leave well after others and only thru the Leper’s Gate, where they entered a chamber exclusively for them isolated from all others. Every place they went was considered defiled. If they were encountered they were required to shout “unclean, unclean!” when approaching others. So it must have been a terrible existence for anyone with a minor to full blown case to be considered dead and ostracized by his family or friends.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell how Yeshua was approached by a leper in Capernaum. In his account Luke, a physician, specifies the man was in the advanced stages. This could mean he had lost or was soon to lose extremities like fingers, toes, and or perhaps his nose, and death wasn’t far off.
The fact the man came to Yeshua indicated he didn’t doubt his power to heal him. Falling on his face he begged Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” He just wasn’t asking to be cured physically but to be made acceptable for worship at the Temple again.
Moved by compassion for the man’s act of sincere trust and the desire to worship him Yeshua touched him (even though it wasn’t necessary). All three gospel accounts say the man was healed instantly. Then he took the man by the hand, stood him up and told him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” Yeshua was sending him straight to the Temple priests so they could begin their week long observation of the man to verify his cure.
Since only a priest could certify someone afflicted or cured there would be a record of this man in the Temple records in turn verifying the legitimate healing Yeshua performed. He also knew following the inspection period an investigation would begin to find how this healing happened. Then the priests would learn a man named Yeshua of Nazareth was the One who performed this miracle that could not be ignored. That indeed would get the priests to pay attention to him!
Bromiley, Geoffrey W., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986.
Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G, Yeshua, the Life of the Messiah From a Messianic Jewish Perspective, Volume 1., Ariel Ministries, 2016.
Stern, David H., Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., 1992.
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