The Leprous Man Meets Jesus.
And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. Matthew 8:2
The Pharisees could offer no hope to this leprous man. This man's leprosy was a death sentence and it was a sentence of separation from normal life as a Jew. A Jew with leprosy was completely devastated. It meant separation from normal activities in more than one way. The only occupation available for a man with leprosy was to beg. It meant separation from his loved ones. And it disenfranchised him from Temple worship. True, the Mosaic law had allowed provision for the needy - but that was before the apostasy of Jewish legalism had set in. There was system of alms - giving to the Temple for needy but this was an inadequate system for the needs of these men. Because he was leprous he was excluded by the Jewish leaders from any hope of spiritual fulfillment. Jesus accused the religious leaders of the day of being like whitewashed tombs full of the bones of the dead because they were spiritually dead and thus without mercy. They were powerless to offer hope to the man. They could only declare him defiled and so, they completely separated themselves from him for fear of becoming unclean and unable, themselves, to participate in Temple worship. Theirs was a powerless, cold and uncaring religion.
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Matthew 8:3
The contrast from the Jews' apostate religion was stark. What was woefully lacking in Jewish religiosity was in bountiful supply in the Person of Jesus. No wonder that when this man followed Jesus pleading for mercy, his need was met by Jesus' touch - His outstretched hand of mercy. Personal contact with the Lord Jesus is like that. Personal contact with Jesus results in a life that is completely turned around for the better.
The scribes were not only powerless and heartless but were evil and self-serving in their religious practices. Regardless of the various ceremonial laws regulating contact with certain medical conditions - the Jew was to show mercy and compassion toward the unfortunate - no matter what their circumstances were. But the Jewish zealots of the day had forgotten mercy and had taken up with cold, heartless ceremony. Another example of this heartlessness was their treatment of the widow. They had shown no mercy for the widows rather they had "...devoured widows houses..." a practice of extortion for the execution of the widow's spouse's estate after his death with excessive fees. Many times the widow was left with nothing from the estate and became a pauper. Still another example was the practice of a son declaring his assets "Corban." These assets would then not be available to help his parents even though he still had control over them. If his parents would come to him for aid he would merely point out to his needy parents that the assets were "Corban" - a gift that was dedicated to God / the Temple and that he was "powerless" to help them. This was an obvious distortion of the Law and Jesus condemned it along with many of their other abuse of the needy.
Part of John the Baptist's ministry was the restoration of the Jewish family unit which had degenerated under the watch of the scribes and Pharisees. Here's a quote from a previous lesson: "Not much is made of John's ministry but John was to have the same power of the Spirit of God as Elijah. John's ministry was so remarkable that many of the Jews wondered if John was a fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6 "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.  "And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse." (NAS). In fact, the angel's prediction regarding John was a direct quote from our passage in Malachi. Family relationships that were fractured in John's time were going to be restored and many of the Jews' hearts were going to changed from disobedience to an attitude of righteousness. There are no records of miracles performed by John in the power of the Spirit. The power of the Spirit that John was to wield was that of great persuasiveness and to affect a great revival in Judah."
Jesus pointed these matters out in His scathing denunciation of their evil practices - these practices had taken precedence over the Law - the Law was replete with commands to show mercy and had strict commands to honor and take of one's parents. Jesus as the sinless Son of God, was full of mercy and truth. Personal contact with Jesus by the needy was always met with compassion and mercy.
Jesus was willing to identify Himself with the sick and defiled.
This physical touching by our Lord has special significance in light of Jewish religiosity. According to the Jewish leaders acts of mercy should not be performed on people who were unclean because doing so would disallow that person from participating in Temple worship. For this reason all leprous and those with open sores and other "issues of blood" should not come in physical contact with a Jewish rabbi in order to avoid ceremonial defilement. The result was a significant number of the Jewish population of the day had been disenfranchised from Temple worship. But Jesus set aside all these taboos and reached out to these people with no regard for His ceremonial cleanness. He was willing to, in His disregard for His personal status, reach out to these people. He touched this leper as a gesture of acceptance while healing him.
The woman with a chronic bleeding problem touched Him. If she had touched a Pharisee she would have been severely rebuked. But she touched Jesus. This meant that Jesus became ceremonially unclean in the eyes of the scribes and Pharisees but instead of rebuking the woman, he praised her for her faith and healed her of her medical problem.
Jesus Became sin for us.
2 Cor. 5:21
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
The purpose for the incarnation of Jesus Christ was so that He could be our atonement. In doing so He became defiled by our sin - He became a curse for us by way hanging on the cross. To do so it was necessary that Jesus take on humanity - that He become a man so that He could save us from our sins. Jesus hung on the cross and was judged for our sins. Ultimate identification! Ultimate association with man's predicament in his sins. He the sinless Son of God was cursed for us so that we might become the beloved.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
So His touch is more than a mere stretching forth of His hand - for in His hand He holds Mercy, forgiveness, cleansing from sin and the offer of becoming a child of God.
The Touch of Jesus Results in Change.
When a man is touch by the Lord things become different. Jesus' touch is not a touch that merely offers relief from one's immediate circumstances. No. His touch results in change - change in the sinner's relationship with his Lord. The woman who was found in the act of adultery was not only spared from capital punishment by those who had judged her, but she was restored in right relationship with her Lord and (I think) her husband.
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Notice the woman's response "...No man, Lord... " That excites me! Here was a woman who was facing death by stoning - I'm guessing filled with shame for her act - Jesus had come into her life - as a result her sins wee forgiven and she had met her Lord! His forgiveness was no light thing! Her confession was that Jesus was her Lord - His confession to her was that she was forgiven and was no longer accused. Now Jesus commands her to "...go, and sin no more...." Go where? I believe that she was to return to her husband with a new life - a new start - that was certainly implied. I have no way to substantiate this but I believe that Jesus' touch was that complete and that she was now able to return to her husband for his forgiveness, love and protection. In doing this, she was to sin - not to commit adultery - no more.
Jesus does not merely offer relief from our circumstances with His touch. By responding to the call of the Gospel and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal savior we may be forgiven of our sins - our course to hell is changed to a course to heaven. Circumstances that seem impossible to explain or resolve now have heaven's resources for resolution and the Lord offers Himself as our Friend.
Please view another Bible study related to this subject using this link: What to expect When Jesus Touches a Life.
1. Deut. 15:11 "For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land."
2. For a wonderful example of the change Jesus can make in a life please read about the demon possessed man in Luke 8:26 - 30. . . . ". . .When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind;. . ." vs. 35b.
3. Comment from The Complete BIBLICAL LIBRARY, Matthew volume, Pg. 497. "According to the Talmud..., it was the custom for a husband to appoint a scribe to be the executor of his will and to take care of the welfare of the man's property and wife... This was naturally a paid function and sometimes this trust was violated."
4. Based on comments from The Interpretation of ST. MARK'S GOSPEL, By Lenski, Pg. 291.
5. Mark 7:11-13. "But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.  And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;  Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye."
6. From "God calls all men to serve Him."
7. Luke 1:16-17. "And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.  "And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (NAS)
8. In the Old Testament mercy is frequently translated from the Hebrew "checed" which means to bend the knee and stretch the hand in order to offer relief.
9. Psalm 86:15 "But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth."
10. Mark 5:25-34.
11. Ephes. 1:5-6 "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."