The Leper
Matthew 8:1-4
When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.…

Jesus, in his sermon on the mount, spake with an authority that asserted his Divinity. He claimed to be the King and Judge of men. Coming down from the mount, followed by the multitudes who were astonished at his doctrine, he wrought, a miracle which proved his authority to be no assumption. The miracles of Christ were not only miracles of power; they were, moreover, miracles of wisdom - parables of omnipotence.


1. It is a most loathsome disease.

(1) Mungo Park thus describes it as he witnessed it amongst the peoples in Africa: "It appears at the beginning in scurfy spots upon different parts of the body; which finally settle upon the hands and feet, when the skin becomes withered and cracks in many places. At length the ends of the fingers swell and ulcerate; the discharge is acrid and fetid; the nails drop off, and the bones of the fingers become carious, and separate at the joints. In this manner the disease continues to spread frequently until the patient loses all his fingers and toes, and sometimes his hands and feet." Maundrel says, "Leprosy is the extreme state of corruption of which a living body is capable" (cf Job 7:5).

(2) A corresponding moral condition comes to the day in our police-courts. In the eye of God the unregenerate heart of the Pharisee is no less revolting (see Matthew 23:27, 28).

2. It is an insidious disease.

(1) Leprosy at first spreads secretly. Sometimes it is for years concealed. So the venom of sin is hidden, being restrained by environments of Christian influence.

(2) It is an hereditary evil. The leprosy of Naaman was not only transferred to Gehazi; it was also entailed upon his seed (2 Kings 5:27). The entailment of sin is universal.

(3) It is, moreover, contagious. Hence the Law required that the leper should live apart, and warn passengers to keep aloof by crying, "Unclean! unclean ]" (Leviticus 13:45, 46). So Miriam (Numbers 12:14, 15). Things infected with leprosy, were destroyed. So is sin contagious, and the company of sinners is to be shunned (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; James 4:4).


1. The Law prescribed no cure for it.

(1) The cleansing was not the healing of the leper (see Leviticus 14:3). This man was healed and then sent to the priest to be ceremonially cleansed (ver. 4). So neither has the Law any cure for sin.

(2) The gospel supplies this lack. Hence David, in his moral leprosy, instead of going to the priest, went to the Lord (Psalm 51:7).

(3) There was a sense in which the faith of the Samaritan had made him whole, in which his nine ungrateful companions, though healed physically, were not made whole (see Luke 17:11-19).

2. Jesus is able to save all men.

(1) This miracle proving his Divinity establishes his ability.

(2) But he saves us not by arbitrary power. He cannot sacrifice justice to mercy.

(3) He satisfies the claims of justice by taking our sin upon him. This is parabolically taught in his touching the leper. By that healing touch he became himself ceremonially unclean.

(4) In this Jesus broke no law. There is no law that says, "Thou shalt not touch a leper."

3. He is not willing to save all characters. "If thou wilt."

(1) He spurns the impenitent wicked (see Isaiah 1:10-20; Psalm 66:18).

(2) The contrite believer he will save. "I will." The leper came humbly. "Worshipped him," or, as in Mark, "kneeling down to him." Trustfully. "If thou wilt, thou canst. None such are too vile. A leper."

4. Impurity instantly yields to the rebuke of Christ.

(1) Why should a present salvation be disputed? Jesus is the Omnipotence of purity. "Straightway his leprosy was cleansed."

(2) But why did Jesus send him to the priests? "For a testimony unto them," viz. as to the power of the gospel. Also as to its truth. For this is beautifully set forth in the ceremony (see outline on Leviticus 14:1-7). The miracle is a splendid commentary upon the Law. - J.A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

WEB: When he came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

The Healing of the Leper
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