Matthew 7:24 (Jesus said) “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!” 28 Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29 for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
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.
Many people had a hard time receiving Jesus’ teachings because his approach was so different from what they were used to. Teachers in Jesus’ day, like the scribes referenced in v.29, would refer to the ancient writings, the law and the prophets, as the source of authority. Sometimes Jesus did the same, but often he did not. He would make statements in his own words (v.24) then encourage people to follow them – something which a scribe would never do.
“He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”
Hence the more knowledgeable the people, the more difficult it was to receive Jesus’ teachings. But then we have a story of a person with zero authority or standing in the community – a leper. A person with leprosy would not be allowed to live in the village with family and friends. They were completely cut off. It was awful. In 8:1 above it says Jesus was walking down from the mountain back toward town when a leper approached him. Unlike the others who heard Jesus and doubted, the leper knew exactly who Jesus was and what he could do.
“Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.”
I’ve read this story many times, yet I am again astonished by the faith of the leper. Reminds me of a passage from Matthew 11:
25 At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things (teachings) from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.
Jesus wasn’t literally referring to “infants” (small children) but to persons who were infants in the faith, or like infants had no power or standing in the community. It was the ones on the lowest rungs of the social ladder who readily took hold of Jesus and his teaching. Not the learned and wise ones.
As much as I’d like to identify with the leper, I’m much more like the scribe. I’ve been taught and trained for many years to understand the teachings of Jesus, the scriptures, and so on. The passage above reminds me to avoid getting too locked into a particular understanding or teaching. I always need to be open to learning new things in new ways – for our Lord Jesus is full of surprises.
Lord Jesus, let it be so. Amen.