Leprosy is such a terrible disease. Persons who contract leprosy must take regular medication to keep the dreaded disease from spreading and eating away various parts of the body, eventually causing death.
In the time of Jesus there was no medical treatment for leprosy. Since it is very contagious, lepers were forced to live apart in social isolation. They were supposed to shout, "Unclean, Unclean," when anyone approached, to warn people to keep their distance.
All diseases create a certain amount of psychological and social trauma, but perhaps none was so devastating as leprosy. Depending on where the disease struck on the body, the person's face, hands, legs or feet could become distorted, twisted, disfigured and useless as the dreaded disease progressed. The only comfort such people had was to seek the company of other lepers. Leper colonies were sad places.
According to the Qur'an, one of the signs that God gave to Jesus to prove his prophethood was the ability to cure this terrible disease. (Sura 3:49 and 5:113)
The Bible confirms this amazing power of Jesus and gives accounts of these miraculous healings. As in the case of healing the blind, Jesus used various means to heal the lepers. Once he ordered a group of ten lepers to go and show themselves to the priests who would examine them and pronounce them clean if all signs of the disease were gone. The ten obeyed, believing Jesus would cause them to be healed. As they walked along, the disease disappeared from their bodies.
One of the healed lepers was so grateful he returned, shouting praises to God as he drew near to Jesus. He threw himself at Jesus' feet profoundly thanking him for the healing. Jesus was amazed that only one had returned, since all ten were healed. The man who returned wasn't even a Jew, but a Samaritan who had joined the Jewish lepers because he shared their disease.
Jesus told the man:
"Rise and go; your faith has made you well." (Luke 17:19)
At another time a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell at Jesus' feet with his face to the ground. He begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out and touched the leper with his hand, perhaps putting his hand on the man's head or shoulder. No doubt that was the first human touch that man had felt since he contracted the disease. The Bible says that Jesus was filled with compassion. He understood the isolation the man felt, the loneliness, the hopelessness and despair. Jesus' touch must have surprised him. Jesus told the man:
"I am willing. Be clean!" (Luke 5:13b)
The leprosy left him immediately. He was completely cured.
You can read about this dramatic miracle in three places in the Bible: Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-15.
Just as leprosy corrodes, corrupts and eventually destroys the body, selfish sin corrodes, corrupts and eventually destroys the spirit. Jesus is able to cleanse people in spirit as well as in body. Consider this:
"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." (Isaiah 1:18b)
". . . if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (I John 1:7)
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