And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” – Matthew 8:2–4
A gift beyond the healing
The leper received what he asked for from Jesus. But Jesus gave more than the leper asked.
Jesus told the healed leper to show himself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded. Since few of us understand the reconciliation contained within Christ’s command, let me share a bit of it. Moses’ command is written in Leviticus 14:1–32.
For the sacrifice to restore a healed leper, the family had to bring Cedar-wood. The Cedar probably showed that the leper was now free from the corruption that had been in his body.
Cedar is a fantastic wood. About 150 years ago, I made a mailbox post out of a small log of Cedar. It never rots. If I drove by it today, it would still be good as new.
Now the sacrifice required two birds, probably sparrows. The priest sacrificed one bird and set the other free. These two birds represent both Christ’s sacrificial death and His resurrection – His release from His grave.
The sacrificed bird had the Cedar and Hyssop tied to it using scarlet (red) wool thread. The red thread showed both the leper’s sinfulness and the blood of Jesus. The picture is that the pale and repulsive skin condition was now lively and beautiful.
The Hyssop provided an aromatic smell, signifying the cure of the leper’s horrid scent.
To fulfill the Law, the priest had to go outside of the city with the healed leper. Being out of the city symbolized Jesus’ crucifixion outside of Jerusalem.
Along with the priest, the leper’s family had to gather the things for the sacrifice – the leper wasn’t allowed inside the city. So, Jesus was getting the leper reconciled to his family and with the religious leaders. Through this formal process, the healed leper was restored to the family, the Jewish society, and the synagogue. How precious is that!
Just as Jesus went beyond what the leper asked of Him, He does the same for us. When we pray, God hears our need, but He sees beyond our need and provides more than we could ever ask or think.
Photo by Francesco Alberti on Unsplash
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