Matthew 8:1 When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; 2 and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” 3 He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 Then 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, as a testimony to them.”
Jesus has just finished preaching what has become known as “the sermon on the mount” when he encounters a leper who asks to be made clean. Verse 1 says there were “great crowds” that were following Jesus, so I’m guessing there were many, many people seeking Jesus for healing of some kind. Yet, of all the people among the “great crowds” who followed Jesus, he chooses to heal this one leper. Jesus took the opportunity to offer a demonstration of Kingdom power to back up his proclamation regarding Kingdom life. Two things come to mind for me:
(1) Every once in a while, the Lord will offer to us a demonstration of Kingdom power to back up a proclamation about Kingdom life. I’ve seen this most recently in the financial life of the congregation I lead. Two years ago (2014) the church voted to increase the amount of money it gives away to people outside of the church – despite the fact we had experienced several years of significant operating deficits up to that point. We took the bible’s proclamation about the tithe (offering 10% of our income to the Lord) to heart. Result? First operating surplus in years. Same thing in 2015 – but even larger surplus. Sometimes God just likes to show off! 🙂
(2) The story also has me asking, “What about all the others present who sought healing from Jesus?” While this one leper went away praising the Lord, many more left without being healed. Does the lack of healing for some people negate the truth or power of Jesus’ teaching? Of course not. Yet here’s an important truth: While the Lord does demonstrate Kingdom power in a tangible way from time to time, most of the time he does not. Has me asking myself:
Where have I seen evidence of God’s Kingdom breaking forth in visible ways?
How do I tend to respond when my requests/prayers are not answered in a visible way?
Where is my faith being challenged right now?
Lord Jesus, it’s wonderful when we see the Kingdom coming visibly in our midst. Such instances make it much easier to follow after you. Yet much of the time we are called to follow when we see no visible signs – at least none we recognize. Give us grace, during times of struggle and doubt, to remain faithful to you and to your teaching. We ask this in your precious name. Amen.