Moving on after the Sermon on the Mount, we’re diving into Matthew 8 with a new series entitled “The Authority of Jesus”. Over the next two chapters, Matthew writes using a cyclical format of miracles and discipleship as he shows us Jesus’s ministry. Matthew is teaching more than a spiritual curriculum, he is showing us Jesus was (and still is) more than a great teacher, he is also our healer. If we accept Jesus as teacher, but do not acknowledge him as healer, we reduce him to just another great mind and are not following him.
At the start of chapter 8, Jesus heals a leper. The obvious scandal with their interaction is the risk Jesus takes by approaching the diseased man (then furthermore, touching him!). The language used by the leper is easily missed. The diseased man, his body literally falling apart, does not ask to be healed; he asked Jesus if he could be cleansed. Leprosy was not only indicative of a physical disease in this time period, it was also believed to reflect a spiritual deformity. Lepers who braved the local market were required to announce their presence by yelling the word “UNCLEAN” wherever they went as a warning to the public. Jesus intentionally identifies with the unclean man in order to make him clean. He offers the same opportunity to each of us.
Today’s drawing is very personal to me. It is also quite simple, two words and an icon. Across the page, in the foreground, is the word ‘authority’ written in Greek. Jesus holds supreme authority over the earth and all its inhabitants. The middle ground hold a second word, ‘healed’, also written in Greek. The icon in the background is the medic-alert tag I no longer have to wear, and the broken chain that once suspended it on my neck. This December I will celebrate ten years without seizures or anti-convulsion medication because Jesus identified with me.