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    Chapter 17—The Leper Healed

    Jesus was frequently obliged to hide himself from the people; for the crowds collected so densely about him to witness his miracles, and the enthusiasm ran so high, that it became necessary to take precautions, lest the priests and rulers should take advantage of the great assemblies to arouse the Roman authorities to fear an insurrection.2SP 225.1

    Never had there been such a period as this for the world. Heaven was brought down to men. All who came to Jesus for the purpose of instruction realized indeed that the Lord was gracious and full of wisdom. They received precious lessons of divine knowledge from the great source of intelligence. Many hungering and thirsting souls that had waited long for the redemption of Israel now feasted upon the bounteous grace of a merciful Saviour. The expected Teacher had come, and a favored people were living under the full splendor of his light, yet many comprehended it not, and turned from the divine radiance with indifference or unbelief.2SP 225.2

    Jesus healed many and various cases of bodily disease, while he was preaching and ministering to sin-sick souls. Many hearts were liberated from the cruel bondage of sin. Unbelief, discouragement, and despair, gave place to faith, hope, and happiness. But when the sick and wretched applied to the Saviour for help, he first relieved the poor, suffering body before he attempted to minister to the darkened mind. When the present misery of the suppliant was removed, his thoughts could better be directed into the channel of light and truth.2SP 226.1

    Leprosy was the most fearful and loathsome disease of the East. It was looked upon with great dread by all classes on account of its contagious character and its horrible effect upon its victim. Great precautions were taken to prevent the disease from spreading among the people: With the Hebrews the leper was pronounced unclean. He was isolated from his family, restricted from the privileges of society, and cut off from the congregation of Israel. He was doomed to associate only with those who were similarly afflicted with himself.2SP 226.2

    Away from his friends and kindred he must bear the curse of his terrible malady. No affectionate hands could soothe his pain. He was obliged to publish his own calamity, to rend his garment, and sound the alarm, warning all to flee from his polluted and decaying body. The cry, Unclean! Unclean! coming with mournful tone from the lonely exile, was a signal heard with fear and abhorrence.2SP 226.3

    There were many of these loathsome subjects in the region of Christ's ministry. The news of the great Healer had reached even them in their isolation, and a gleam of hope sprang up in their hearts that if they could come into the presence of Jesus he might relieve them. But as they were debarred from entering any city or village, it seemed impossible for them to reach the great Physician, whose chief work lay among the populace.2SP 227.1

    There was one leper who had been a man of high distinction. It was with the greatest grief that he and his family had become convinced that he was a victim to the fatal disease. Physicians of note had been consulted, and they had examined his case thoroughly, and anxiously searched their books to obtain further knowledge; but they were reluctantly compelled to acknowledge that their skill was baffled, the disease was incurable. It was then the duty of the priest to make an examination; this resulted in a decision that his was the worst form of leprosy. This verdict sentenced him to a living death separated from his friends and the society in which he had held so lofty a position. But now those who had courted his favor and accepted his hospitality fled from his presence with horror. He went out an exile from his home.2SP 227.2

    Jesus was teaching by the lake outside the city limits, and many were gathered to hear his words. The leper, who in his seclusion had heard of some of his mighty works, came out to see him, and drew as near as he dared. Since his exile, the disease had made fearful inroads upon his system. He was now a loathsome spectacle, his decaying body was horrible to look upon. Standing afar off, he heard some of the words of Jesus, and saw him laying hands upon the sick to heal them. He beheld, with amazement, the lame, the blind, the paralytic, and those dying of various maladies, rise up at a word from the Saviour, restored to health and praising God for their salvation. He looked upon his own wretched body and wondered if this great Physician could not cure even him. The more he heard, and saw, and considered the matter, the more he was convinced that this was really the promised Saviour of the world, to whom all things were possible. None could perform such miracles but Him who was authorized of God, and the leper longed to come into his presence and be healed.2SP 227.3

    He had not intended to approach near enough to endanger the people; but now his mind was so powerfully wrought upon that he forgot the restrictions that had been placed upon him, the safety of the people, and the horror with which they regarded him. He thought only of his blessed hope that the power of Jesus could set him free from his infirmity. His faith laid hold of the Saviour, and he pressed forward, heedless of the frightened multitude that fell back as he approached and crowded over and upon each other to avoid him.2SP 228.1

    Some thought to prevent him from approaching Jesus, but their efforts were in vain. He neither saw nor heard them. The expressions of loathing and looks of horror that greeted his appearance were lost upon him. He saw only the Son of God, he heard only the voice that was giving health and happiness to the suffering and unfortunate. As he came before Jesus, his pent-up feelings found vent, he prostrated his foul, decaying body before him, crying out, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” His words were few, but comprehended his great need. He believed that Christ was able to give him life and health.2SP 228.2

    Jesus did not shrink from his approach, but drew near him. The people fell back, and even the disciples were filled with terror, and would fain have prevented their Master from touching him; for by the law of Moses he who touched a leper was himself unclean. But Jesus, with calm fearlessness, laid his hand upon the supplicant and answered his petition with the magic words, “Be thou clean!”2SP 229.1

    No sooner were these life-giving words spoken than the dying body of corruption was changed to a being of healthy flesh, sensitive nerves, and firm muscle. The rough, scaly surface peculiar to leprosy was gone, and a soft glow, like that upon the skin of a healthy child, appeared in its place. The eager multitude now lose their terror, and crowd around to behold this new manifestation of divine power.2SP 229.2

    Jesus charged the cleansed leper not to make known the work he had wrought upon him, saying, “See thou say nothing to any man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” Accordingly the now happy man went to the same priests who had previously examined him, and whose decision had banished him from his family and friends.2SP 229.3

    Joyfully he presented his offering to the priests and magnified the name of Jesus who had restored him to health. This irrefutable testimony convinced the priests of the divine power of Jesus, although they still refused to acknowledge him as the Messiah. The Pharisees had asserted that his teachings were directly opposed to the law of Moses, and for the purpose of exalting himself; yet his special directions to the cleansed leper to make an offering to the priest according to the law of Moses, evidenced to the people that these accusations were false.2SP 229.4

    The priests were not allowed to accept an offering from the hands of one who had been afflicted with leprosy, unless they first thoroughly examined him and proclaimed to the people that he was entirely free from the infectious disease, was in sound health, and could again unite with his family and friends without endangering them. However unwilling the priest might have been to accredit this marvelous cure to Jesus, he could not evade an examination and decision of the case. The multitude were anxious to learn the result of the investigation, and when he was pronounced free from disease, and privileged to return to his family and friends, great was the excitement. Such a thing had never before been known.2SP 230.1

    But notwithstanding the caution of Jesus to the cleansed leper he published the matter abroad. Conceiving that it was only the retiring modesty of Jesus that laid these restrictions upon him, he went about proclaiming the mighty power of this great Healer. He did not understand that every new manifestation of divine power on the part of Jesus only made the chief priests and elders more determined to destroy him. The restored man felt the boon of health was very precious. The pure blood coursing through his veins quickened his entire being with a new and delightful animation. He rejoiced in the full vigor of manhood and in his restoration to his family and society. He felt it impossible to refrain from giving full glory to the Physician who had made him whole.2SP 230.2

    But the publicity of this affair created so great a commotion that Jesus was obliged to retire beyond the city. “And they came to him from every quarter.” These miracles were not worked for display; the acts of Christ were in direct contrast to those of the Pharisees, whose greatest ambition was to secure the praise and honor of men. Jesus well knew that if the fact of his cleansing the leper was noised abroad, those in a similar condition would be urgent to obtain the same cure. This would raise the cry that the people would be contaminated by contact with the loathsome disease of leprosy. His enemies would seize such an opportunity to accuse and condemn him.2SP 231.1

    Jesus knew that many of the lepers who would seek him did not deserve the blessing of health, nor would they use it to the honor and glory of God should they obtain it. They had no real faith nor principle, but only a strong desire to be delivered from the certain doom that awaited them. The Saviour also knew that his enemies were ever seeking to limit his work and turn the people from him. If they could use the case of the cleansed leper for that purpose they would do so. But in directing the healed man to present his offering to the priest, as enjoined by the law of Moses, he would convince them that he was not opposed to the Jewish code, if their minds were open to conviction.2SP 231.2

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