English: Gerhard Amauer Hansen, Norwegian bacteriologist who discovered the bacillum for leprosy. Since this photograph was likely taken before 1923 as Hansen died in 1912, it is public domain in the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The leper that came to Jesus to be cleansed in verse 12 of Luke chapter 5 may have had one of many skin diseases that in biblical times was referred to as leprosy – not necessarily what we know today as leprosy, which is also known as Hansen’s disease (named for the physician, Gerhard Armauer Hansen, who discovered the bacteria that caused it). But it may very well have been this form of leprosy. It is beside the point, however. There are several things that are significant about this account, which occurs in verses 12-16 – none of which have to do with leprosy.
First, there is the matter of the miracle itself. Verse 13 tells us that Jesus stretched out His hand and touched the leper, and immediately, the leprosy left him. That was it – it was gone. Secondly, it is quite significant that Jesus touched Him at all. Such a thing simply was not done. Nothing was known by people then about bacteria or “germs,” but the public health was protected by the fact that such a condition made the sufferer ceremonially unclean, and thus they had to be separated from everyone else until the condition healed – after which a ritual of cleansing would be performed. Once Jesus had cured his disease, He instructed the man to go to a priest to make an offering – as the law of Moses commanded “for a proof to them.” The proof would be the priest’s use of the offering for cleansing, and would serve to allow the man to be among others again. The details of all of this can be found in Leviticus 14:2-32.
A third matter of significance here is that Jesus instructed the man to “tell no one.” Certainly, He knew that the man was going to tell the priest, and that word of what had occurred would be made known. He was admonished not to run to tell others right away, but to take care of the requirements of the law of Moses straightaway. One effect this would also have would be to minimize the spreading of the news which would bring a flood of people to Jesus for more healing. Even so, verse 15, says, it brought more crowds of people – both to hear God’s word, and for more healings.
Olive Trees in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives.
All of this is important in its own way, but there is also a point made that may not be so obvious. Besides the fact that Jesus came to sacrifice Himself for our sins, and the plan of salvation that He gave to us, He also left us with divine guidance for our lives here on earth – and as is often the case with the word of the Lord, that guidance can have great benefit to us in the here and now, as well as our long-term good. Verse 16 says that as more and more demands were made on His time and energy, “he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”
Jesus was fully God, but had come here as a man with emotions, stress thresholds, and the ability to be physically taxed and to become fatigued. Throughout His ministry, we read in each of the Gospels of times when He went to be alone, to rest when weary, and to spend time talking at length to God. I find that the days in which I make the time to talk to God at greater length are the days that my anxiety and stress – my entire well being is the most improved. If our Lord and savior needed to do this when He was here in order to keep his “battery charged,” is it any wonder that we should need to do these things as well? The Lord does not want us to be lazy, but He knows better than we do that we must “close shop,” shut things down and rest, and most importantly, spend time in prayer with God.
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.