AUTHORITY OVER DEFILEMENT - LEPROSY - LUKE 5.12-16; MARK 1.39-45
Jesus’ healing of the leper is a very significant healing and a statement of His Messianic Kingship. From the time of the completion of the Mosaic Law, there was no record of a Jew being healed of leprosy. Miriam, Moses sister, was healed prior to completion of the law, and Naman was a Syrian.
Moses spelled out in great detail in Lev 13 and 14 the ritual the priests would have to perform in the case of a healing from this disease. Only the priests could declare a person to be a leper or healed of leprosy. Once declared a leper a person had to walk around in torn clothing and have their face covered from the nose down. When walking down a street the leper had to warn anyone approaching by calling out, “Unclean, unclean!” They had to live in an area separate from the towns and could not participate in any temple services. They were “untouchable.”
When a leper was cured they would have to show themselves to the priest and be examined for seven days. Three questions had to be answered: Was the person a declared leper, were they really healed, and what were the circumstances of the healing. Afterwards four ritual offerings were made, the person was declared healed, and could then live like a normal person.
Moses had given all these instructions and no one had ever had to appear before the priests for healing. It was, therefore, thought that leprosy was a judgment upon a person and no Jewish leper would ever be healed until the Messiah came and established the Kingdom.
This miracle was one that would create quite a stir in the Jewish community--it was a Messianic miracle! Jesus, through this miracle, was declaring openly to the community who He was. Luke says this was a man full of leprosy, which meant he was near death from the disease. This leper asks Jesus not for healing, but to be made clean. Jesus says, “I will.” and touches the leper. He is immediately healed. In the context of this disease that touch was quite significant and created a great stir. He was touched by the King.
Jesus instructs him to go to the priests and answer the three questions. This would be a testimony unto the religious leadership. Jesus was forcing them to take His Messianic claims seriously. Now, Jesus could not openly enter the town because He had become equivalent to a “rock star” in our day. What does Jesus do? He withdrew to the wilderness to pray!
Notes from: The Life of Messiah from a Jewish Perspective by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum