As Jesus and his four disciples go preaching in the “synagogues throughout the whole of Galilee,” news about the wonderful things Jesus is doing spreads widely. (Mark 1:39) Word of his deeds reaches one city where there is a man sick with leprosy. The physician Luke describes him as being “full of leprosy.” (Luke 5:12) In its advanced stages, this dreadful disease slowly disfigures various parts of the body.
So this leper is in a grievous condition and is required to live away from others. Moreover, he is supposed to call out “Unclean, unclean!” when people are nearby and thus protect them from coming too close and risking infection. (Leviticus 13:45, 46) But what does this leper now do? He approaches Jesus and falls upon his face, begging: “Lord, if you just want to, you can make me clean.”
What faith the man has in Jesus! And how pitiful his disease must make him appear! How will Jesus respond? What would you have done if you were there? Moved with compassion, Jesus stretches out his hand and actually touches the man. Jesus says to him: “I want to! Be made clean.” (Matthew 8:3) Hard as it might be for some to believe, the leprosy immediately vanishes from the sick man.
How would you like to have a king who is as compassionate and capable as Jesus? The way he treats this leper assures us that when Jesus is King over the whole earth, this Bible prophecy will be fulfilled: “He will have pity on the lowly and the poor, and the lives of the poor he will save.” (Psalm 72:13) Yes, Jesus will then fulfill his heart’s desire to help all afflicted ones.
Recall that even prior to the healing of this leper, Jesus’ ministry has been creating great excitement among the people. Now people will hear about this wonderful thing that he has done. Jesus, though, does not want people to put faith in him merely on the basis of oral reports. He knows the prophecy that says he would “not make his voice heard in the street,” that is, in some sensational way. (Isaiah 42:1, 2) Accordingly, Jesus gives the healed leper the order: “See that you tell no one, but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses appointed.”
As you can imagine, however, the man is so happy over being healed that he cannot keep to himself what has just happened. He goes off and spreads the news everywhere. This rouses increased interest and curiosity among the people. It gets to the point that Jesus cannot openly go into a city, so for a while he stays in lonely places where nobody lives. Still, people from all over come to be taught by him and to be cured.