When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.…
This incident follows immediately after the sermon on the mount. It is questionable whether any of the great words of that discourse reached the leper, who could only have stood beyond the outermost ring of the crowd. But though at first he was quite shut away from Christ, his opportunity came while our Lord was coming down the hill; then he could claim the beggar's privilege and stand by the wayside. Jesus speaks to multitudes, but he cares for individuals. He is not so taken up with the crowd as to have no time for special needs. Thus the gospel story repeatedly records the transition from public utterance to private kindness. These more private scenes best reveal to us the heart of Jesus. Let us look at the story of the leper, first as it regards the sufferer, and then as it concerns the action of the great Healer.
I. THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE POOR SUFFERER.
1. His condition. A leper. His disease was loathsome, and his state of life pitiable in the extreme. An outcast from society, shunned as an unclean person, regarded as hopelessly afflicted, he was an object of perfect misery. The leper has always been regarded as typical of the sinner in his uncleanness, shame, and misery.
2. His action. He came to Christ. Why? Doubtless be had heard of previous cures (Matthew 4:24:). But the very look of Jesus would be enough to draw him to the feet of the Friend of the miserable. Never had he seen suck sympathy and kindness. We need to know something of Christ to be drawn to him. When we do perceive his grace, we must come to him if we would have his salvation.
3. His reverence. He worshipped. We cannot suppose that he perceived the full Divinity shining through the garb of simple humanity. Yet it may be that he saw more of it than any one else, for it is most revealed in compassion. But if he only bowed as an act of homage to a great one, this showed reverence - a fitting accompaniment of faith in Christ.
4. His words. He begged for cleansing, not for money. He knew his need, and he sought for the one thing most essential. He showed faith in the power of Christ; he only prayed for Christ's willinghood. Both are needed for salvation.
II. THE RESPONSE OF THE GREAT HEARER.
1. His brotherly touch. This is one of those single actions that send a flash of light into the nature of Christ. No one else would defile himself by touching a leper. The sufferer did not expect such an act of condescension, and Jesus had to "stretch forth" his hand to reach him. Here is Christ's unlimited brotherhood. If there is danger of contagion he will not think of it. Christ heals through personal contact, through gracious brotherhood.
2. His consenting words.
(1) The word of grace: "I will." Then the two conditions are fulfilled. The father of the lunatic boy doubted the other condition - the power (Mark 9:22). But both are present with Christ.
(2) The word of power: "Be thou made clean." His language to the leper is typical of his message to the sinner. He saves by cleansing.
3. His perfect healing. There is no delay, there is no slow process. Immediately the cure is complete. Thus Christ is perfectly successful. His works prove his claims. He is able to save unto the uttermost - lepers in body, lepers in soul.
4. His final directions.
(1) Silence. Perhaps from natural modesty. He was not like the Pharisees who trumpeted their alms. He would not let his left hand know what his right hand did.
(2) Obedience to the Law. This was not yet superseded. The leper lived under the Law. The priest would give the man a certificate. The offering would be a sign of gratitude. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.