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From Heaven With Love

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    Chapter 27—The First Leper to Be Cleansed by Christ

    This chapter is based on Matthew 8:2-4; 9:1-8, 32-34; Mark 1:40-45; 2:1-12; Luke 5:12-28.

    Of all diseases known in the East, leprosy was most dreaded. Its incurable and contagious character and its horrible effect on its victims, filled the bravest with fear. Among the Jews it was regarded as a judgment on account of sin, and hence “the finger of God.” It was looked upon as a symbol of sin.HLv 169.1

    Like one already dead, the leper was shut out from the habitations of men. Whatever he touched was unclean. The air was polluted by his breath. One suspected of having the disease must present himself to the priests. If pronounced a leper, he was doomed to associate only with those similarly afflicted. The law was inflexible. Kings and rulers were not exempt.HLv 169.2

    Away from friends and kindred, the leper must bear the curse. He was obliged to publish his calamity and sound the alarm, warning all to flee his contaminating presence. The cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” coming in mournful tones from the lonely exile was a signal heard with fear and abhorrence.HLv 169.3

    News of Christ's work reached many of these sufferers, kindling a gleam of hope. But since the days of Elisha such a thing had never been known as the cleansing of one upon whom this disease had fastened. There was one man, however, in whose heart faith began to spring up. Yet how could he present himself to the Healer? And would Christ heal him? Would He notice one believed to be suffering the judgment of God? Would He pronounce a curse on him?HLv 169.4

    The leper thought of all that had been told him of Jesus. Not one who had sought His help had been turned away. The wretched man determined to find the Saviour. It might be that he could cross His path in some byway along the mountain roads or as He was teaching outside the towns. This was his only hope.HLv 169.5

    The leper was guided to the Saviour as He taught beside the lake. Standing afar off, the leper caught a few words from the Saviour's lips. He saw Him laying His hands on the sick, the lame, the blind, the paralytic, and those dying of various maladies rose up and praised God for their deliverance. Faith strengthened in his heart. He drew nearer. The restrictions laid on him, and the fear with which all men regarded him were forgotten. He thought only of the blessed hope of healing.HLv 170.1

    He was a loathsome spectacle, his decaying body horrible to look upon. At sight of him the people fell back in terror, crowding upon one another in their eagerness to escape from contact with him. Some tried to prevent him from approaching Jesus, but he neither saw nor heard them. He saw only the Son of God. Pressing to Jesus, he cast himself at His feet with the cry, “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”HLv 170.2

    Jesus replied, “I will; be thou clean,” and laid His hand on him.HLv 170.3

    Immediately a change passed over the leper. His flesh became healthy, the nerves sensitive, the muscles firm. The rough, scaly surface disappeared, and a soft glow, like that upon the skin of a healthy child, took its place.HLv 170.4

    With urgency Christ enjoined on the man the necessity of silence and prompt action. Jesus said to him, “See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” Had the priests known the facts concerning the healing, their hatred of Christ might have led them to render a dishonest sentence. Jesus desired the man to present himself at the temple before rumors of the healing had reached them. Thus an impartial decision could be secured, and the restored leper would be permitted to unite once more with his family and friends.HLv 170.5

    The Saviour also knew that if the healing of the leper were noised abroad, other sufferers from this disease would crowd about Him, and the cry would be raised that the people would be contaminated. Many lepers would not use the gift of health as a blessing to themselves or others. And by drawing lepers about Him, He would give occasion for the charge that He was breaking down the restrictions of the law. Thus His preaching would be hindered.HLv 171.1

    A multitude had witnessed the healing of the leper and were eager to learn of the priests’ decision. When the man returned to his friends, there was great excitement. The man made no effort to conceal his cure. It would indeed have been impossible to conceal, but the leper published the matter, conceiving that only the modesty of Jesus laid this restriction on him. He did not understand that every such manifestation made the priests and elders more determined to destroy Jesus. The restored man rejoiced in the vigor of manhood and felt it impossible to refrain from giving glory to the Physician who had made him whole. But his act in blazing abroad the matter caused the people to flock to Him in such multitudes that He was forced for a time to cease His labors.HLv 171.2

    Every act of Christ's ministry was far-reaching in its purpose. He left untried no means by which the priests and teachers, shut in by prejudice and tradition, might be reached. In sending the healed leper to the priests, He gave them a testimony calculated to disarm their prejudices. The Pharisees had asserted that Christ was opposed to the law, but His direction to the cleansed leper to present an offering according to the law disproved this charge. Christ gave evidence of His love for humanity, His respect for the law, and His power to deliver from sin and death.HLv 171.3

    The same priests who condemned the leper to banishment certified his cure publicly. And the healed man, reinstated in the congregation, was a living witness for his Benefactor. Joyfully he magnified the name of Jesus. Opportunity was granted the priests to know the truth. During the Saviour's life, His mission seemed to call forth little response of love from them, but after His ascension “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:7.HLv 172.1

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