MATTHEW, Mark and Luke record the healing of a leper who came to our Lord saying, “If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.” With him, the question was not of Christ’s power but of His willingness. The Savior touched him—incurring ceremonial defilement, mind you, for this man was a loathsome leper—and healed him. Our Lord is willing to touch and transform the vilest. The leper was bidden not to publish the healing, for Jesus did not want to stir up sensationalism, and He knew the superficiality of public enthusiasm. He bade the leper fulfill the Levitical legal requirement—a good reminder for those who foolishly disregard all tradition and precedent. The leper, contrary to instructions, broadcasted what had happened to him, and one finds it hard to blame him! Luke adds the significant detail about our Lord: “And He withdrew Himself into the wilderness and prayed.” Gathering multitudes and growing popularity, far from lessening His hours of prayer, increased them and drove Him all the oftener to the secret place.
Following this miracle, our Lord went into Capernaum and taught crowds that jammed the house, and we read that “the power of the Lord was present to heal them” (Luke 5:17). Four friends of a paralytic carried the sick man to be healed and were forced to tear up the roof and let him down into the presence of Jesus. Certainly this was an undignified and unconventional procedure, but any course is justifiable that brings a man to the Lord. There would be more miracles today if there were more roofs torn up, more believers willing to do the unusual thing to get the needy to the Lord.
The record says: “When Jesus saw their faith….” Our faith and prayer and efforts bring blessing to others. Jesus began by forgiving the man’s sins. This was His boldest claim to be the Son of God, and it astounded the scribes and Pharisees who reasoned that only God could forgive sins. Their reasoning was entirely correct on that score, but what they did not see was that God was before them in the person of His Son.
Our Lord then gave a visible evidence that He had power to do the invisible wonder of forgiving sins. They could not tell whether the man had been forgiven or not, but when he arose and walked they could all see that he had been healed! He had come in with his back on his bed and he went out with his bed on his back —and there was no denying that!
We read that the people glorified God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!” Indeed not! How this sad old world needs today to witness the wonder of a miracle-working Christ! But He cannot do many mighty works because of our unbelief. If we had faith to carry the needy to Him, persistence enough to tear up any roof that bars the way, He would reward our faith with wondrous blessing! Alas, we have dropped to a pale and pitiful dignity that respectfully gathers at church—and most of us don’t even do that—but there is not that determined, vivid, roof-raising faith that will not be denied. Let us return to that, and men will say once more, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”