Jesus, If You Are Willing: Lessons in Humility
Inside: The man knelt in humility. He acknowledged Jesus’ sovereignty. He boldly said back to Jesus what he knew Jesus could do. There are lessons for us in that!
Today, we jump ahead to Matthew 8, where we will settle for a few devotions. In chapter 3, we saw the holy Trinity together at Jesus’ baptism, including the Father blessing the Son. In the next chapter, Jesus endured temptation for 40 days in the desert, He began to preach, He called His first disciples, and He healed the sick. In chapters 5 to 7, we find the famous Sermon on the Mount, which surely will be the subject of a future series! Then we land on chapter 8, the chapter at which we will camp for a few days. I hope you will find this chapter as intriguing as I do. Not only do we see Jesus at work in His early days of ministry, but it is telling how people responded to Him–what they knew to be true of Him despite its surprising reality. Let’s get to it. As you read this short passage, notice the posture and actions of the two main characters.
Matthew 8:1-4 (ESV)
When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 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.”
Digging into God’s Word: Lessons in Humility
Did you notice the posture and actions of the leper and Jesus? Back in chapter 4:23-25, the Bible tells us that Jesus healed “every disease and sickness.” People from far and wide walked long distances with stretchers and beasts of burden carrying people who needed healing, and amazingly the formerly infirm left Jesus’ presence healed!
Large crowds followed Jesus, and in chapter 8 we meet a man who had some sort of devastating skin disease. The particular Greek word used here is one indicating any number of skin diseases–not necessarily leprosy–yet Jesus treats it as leprosy. It had to be bad enough to motivate the man to seek after healing. Was he in pain? Was he shunned for a condition that was thought to be highly contagious?
The man worked hard to get himself face to face with Jesus, and he knelt before the Lord. He acknowledged Jesus’ sovereignty, and he boldly told Jesus what he knew Jesus could do. There are some lessons for us in that! Look at it again:
- In humility, the man knelt before Jesus.
- He acknowledged Jesus’ sovereignty: “Lord, if you will” (or, “if you are willing”).
- He boldly stated to Jesus what he knew Jesus could do: “you can make me clean.”
Notice Jesus’ response: Without hesitation, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched the man. Was this the first touch the man had felt in months or years? Do you need to feel Jesus’ touch today? Jesus spoke the words, “I will; be clean,” and the man was immediately cleansed.
What grace! Did you notice that Jesus didn’t ask the man if he had been honest that day or worked hard, if he had done a good deed or was worthy in some way of healing? No. As the man so humbly and boldly professed, if Jesus wanted to heal him, He could, and in this case, Jesus did.
Digging Deeper: Lessons in Humility
Reflect on these questions. If you have time, journal your answers. Be brave and follow the leper’s example:
- In humility, kneel down and talk with Jesus. If you are unable to kneel, figuratively kneel before Jesus in what you write today or in how you talk with Jesus today. “Jesus, you are Lord of my life.” or “Jesus, I don’t really know you, but I want to know you more. Help me see you as God.”
- Acknowledge Jesus’ sovereignty. “Jesus, I want to ask you for these things [name them], but I know that it is up to you how you answer and when the answers will come to pass.”
- Boldly proclaim to Jesus what you know He can do. The leper said, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” Consider filling in the blanks: “Lord, if you will, you can ____________.” Repeat this for every prayer request you have. Give it over to God.
- Jesus stretched out His hand and touched the man. Take some time to picture Jesus reaching out to you and touching you. What does that mean for you that Jesus reaches out to you and touches you?
Thank you for pondering this passage with me today. To start the series Getting to Know Jesus from the beginning, click on these links:
Did you wonder why in verse 4 Jesus tells the man to not tell anyone of his healing? The same account is told in the gospel of Mark 1:40-45, and there we see the reason: The man couldn’t keep the miraculous news to himself, and as a result “Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places.” Even though Jesus now had to minister far from town, the people still found him!
Also, what was “the gift that Moses commanded”? This was probably a reference to Leviticus 14:4-7. If a leper became clean, he was to present himself to the priest, and the priest had to confirm that he was clean before he could rejoin the community. The offering for healing was a sacrifice of two birds, one of which was killed and the other of which was dipped–along with cedarwood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop–in the blood of the sacrificed bird and then set free. The photo for this post is of hyssop. The symbolism is powerful: All of these elements were present as Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross for the redemption of our sins.Print
As I leave a recovery meeting this morning I realize that some healing is ongoing and in context of community. What a great God.
Fascinating extra info in today’s devotion. Thank you.