PassageIn this passage a man with some kind of a skin disease approaches Jesus. (The passage says he’s a “leper,” but the footnote indicates that the Greek word used here applies to numerous skin diseases.) He falls on his face before Jesus and begs him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean” (verse 12 (ESV)). Jesus touches him, and says, “I will; be clean” (verse 13 (ESV)), which I’ve always liked. It’s just a fun way of wording it.
Immediately the disease leaves the man, at which point Jesus instructs him to go see the priest to make an offering for his cleansing. He also tells the man not to tell anyone, though word goes out anyway, and great crowds start coming to Jesus to be healed of their infirmities.
We are also told in verse 16 (ESV) that Jesus continues going off to “desolate” places, to pray.
ThoughtsThis might have been brought up in previous posts, for passages in which Jesus healed people, but the act of touching this man in order to heal him is more revolutionary than modern readers might understand. Under Jewish religious law, touching an “unclean” man would have made Jesus himself unclean—were he a normal man. Typically, uncleanness spreads: when something or someone who is clean touches something or someone who is unclean, the cleanliness is made unclean. Jesus reverses the model, however, spreading his cleanliness to the unclean person.
Those same laws, which talk about clean and unclean people and things, laid down instructions for when an unclean person should see the priest, how they were to be healed, and what sacrifices were to be made at which points in the process. This is what Jesus is referring to, when he instructs the man to go and see the priest and to give the appropriate sacrifice. At this particular point in time, the healed man still lives under the Jewish religious laws handed down by Moses, so he is to be obeying those laws; the main point would have been that he is sacrificing to God—it is, after all, God who made the man clean, and this sacrifice is part of showing God the reverence He deserves.
Once again, we see in this passage that Jesus is instructing people not to talk about him, because his time has still not yet come.