And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.
if thou wilt. This may be the first instance in which our Lord put forth his power to cleanse a leper, and, if so, the hesitation and anxiety of the man is very naturally explained. His approach is that of a man who had his doubts and fears, but had also his confidences and hopes; and he very properly let his faith decide his action rather than his fears. We may look on him as a man doubting, but showing us how to deal with our doubts; and proving to us how easily our doubts may be dispelled, if we deal wisely with them; and we deal wisely when we do not keep them to ourselves, but turn them into prayers, and speak them out to God.
I. THE SPIRIT OF DOUBT. This can only be regarded as an evil thing. The spirit of trustfulness, receptiveness, is becoming to the child of God. A fashion of doubting, and a pride in doubting, as if it were something very clever, are in every way most mischievous, ruinous to our moral nature, because destructive of that which is the great glory of the creature, the capacity for trust. And yet it must also be seen and recognized that doubt is really the working of a necessary quality of mental manhood. He is not really a man who is unable to doubt. To see two sides of a thing, and have to choose between them, involves a period of doubting. The man who cannot doubt cannot have an intelligent faith. The basis of all moral decision is doubt that can weigh considerations. So it is a great thing to say, "We can doubt, yet we do believe." This leper may have heard of the great things Jesus had done, but the question came - Could he cleanse a leper? There was no settling that doubt; so he turned it into a prayer, and took it to Christ.
II. OUR ACTUAL DOUBTS. It may be well to notice what subjects those doubts chiefly concern. And we must deal, not with intellectual doubts, but with religious doubts - those which bear relation to our spiritual condition, our cleansing from sin. Letting the case of the leper be suggestive, we may notice that:
1. Our doubts may concern our need of Christ as a Saviour. It may be that we admit he is the Saviour, but we doubt our need of him as our Saviour.
2. Our doubts may concern the ability of Christ to save. We may incline to accept his good will, and to doubt his power. We may be disposed to say, "If thou canst. Doubt often makes men think there is something special in their case that puts them beyond the reach of Christ.
3. Our doubts may concern the good will of Christ. Everybody else shunned the leper; how well the man might fear that Christ would shun him too! But he took all his doubts to Christ. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.