AUGUST 14 - Nº 226 Matthew 8:2-4; 9:1-8; Mark 1:40 – 2:12; Luke 5:12-26
While Jesus was teaching in one of the villages, a man came to him who was covered with leprosy. He knelt in front of Jesus with his face to the ground. “Lord,” he pleaded, “if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus, filled with compassion, reached out and touched the man. This is the last thing any of the other religious leaders would have done. Leprosy was not only highly contagious; it was regarded as a divine judgment. Anyone who came near a leper was immediately defiled and had to be cleansed before entering a synagogue or going near the Temple! “I am willing,” Jesus said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left the man. Jesus ordered him, “Do not tell anyone until you have shown yourself to the priest and offered the sacrifices that Moses commanded in the Law.” Moses had given specific instructions (recorded for us in Leviticus 13 and 14) explaining the cleansing procedures God required if a person was healed from leprosy. But no Jewish lepers had been healed since those laws had been given. So, for centuries, the Jewish religious leaders taught that when the Messiah came, he would heal a leper. They labeled it a “Messianic Miracle.” This was the first of three “Messianic Miracles” that Jesus performed while he was here on earth, and Jesus wanted the priest to ceremonially validate that it had taken place. (See also #234 and #250.) On the way to the Temple, the leper couldn’t help telling other people how he had been healed. As the amazing news spread, people from everywhere began flocking to Jesus. This included the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They came from all over Israel to check Jesus out. Their role was to listen, observe, and decide if Jesus really was the Messiah. One day, when Jesus was in Capernaum, four men showed up carrying a friend of theirs who was paralyzed. But they couldn’t get into the house where Jesus was teaching because it was too crowded. So, they carried him up onto the flat roof, removed some of the tiles, and lowered him on his mat through the hole they had just made. They set him down right in front of Jesus. When Jesus realized how much faith it had taken for the men to do this, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” This upset the Pharisees and teachers of the law who were in the audience. “That’s blasphemy!” they thought to themselves. “No one can forgive sins except God!” Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking, so he asked, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Get up and walk?’” (Of course, the answer is, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ since no visible evidence is required.) He added, “But in order for you to know that I have authority on earth to forgive sins, I will also say, ‘Get up, take your mat, and go home.’” The man immediately stood up, rolled up the mat he had been lowered through the roof on, and walked out the door giving glory to God. Everyone in the house was filled with awe and began praising God. They had seen remarkable things that day!
If we want our friends to have their sins forgiven and to receive the gift of eternal life, we must bring them to Jesus. It may take creativity, sacrifice, and persistence, but it is the most important thing we can ever do for them! Jesus is the only way anyone can have eternal life.