Lord, awe and wonder grip me as I consider that you are all- knowing, all-wise, and all-powerful. I trust you and praise you.
Read Matthew 8:1–13
Jesus Heals a Man With Leprosy
8 When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy[a] came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
The Faith of the Centurion
5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
- Matthew 8:2 The Greek word traditionally translated leprosy was used for various diseases affecting the skin.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Come near to God and he will come near to you.’1
Matthew describes how Jesus heals two outsiders to mainstream Jewish society. The man with a skin disease (not necessarily what we today term leprosy) was ritually unclean and would have lived in isolation.2 The centurion, a junior officer in the Roman army, was a Gentile.3 Onlookers might have wondered at their right to approach Jesus. Yet Matthew presents how they came to Jesus as an example for us all.
The man with the skin disease came with absolute faith in Jesus’ power to cleanse him. Yet he was also humble, kneeling before Jesus and acknowledging that his healing was utterly dependent on Jesus’ will (v 2). The centurion also approached Jesus with humility, recognizing his own unworthiness before him (v 8). Nevertheless, he knew that Jesus just had to ‘say the word’ and his beloved servant would be healed. Their examples are challenging. Do we tend loudly to assert that God will use his power, without also humbly acknowledging his sovereignty to heal or not to heal? Or do we fail fully to trust God’s power and love?
Jesus’ responses to the two men show us what can happen when we come to him with both complete humbleness and complete trust in his ability to take care of our needs. Jesus is ‘amazed’ by the centurion (v 10) (the word is striking, not least because Matthew rarely describes Jesus’ emotions).4 God’s kingdom is for those of such complete yet humble faith, not for those who arrogantly take for granted their right to be there (vs 11,12). As for the man with the skin disease, the untouchable, Jesus reaches out and touches him (v 3), in a beautiful gesture of love and redemption. No one who comes to Jesus in faith and worship is beyond his reach.
Bring before God a need – either your own, or on behalf of another. Use these words: ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can…’
All-powerful God, I believe you and trust you. I come before you in humbleness and trust, lifting my prayers to you.
1 James 4:8 2 France, Matthew, p152 3 France, Matthew, p153,154 4 Nolland, Matthew, p356