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Jesus Cleanses a Leper

40 A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” 41Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” 42Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, 44saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 45But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

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Mark1:38. For on this account I came out. Luke 4:43. For on this account am I sent. These words deserve our attention: for they contain a declaration of his earnest desire to fulfill his office. But it will perhaps be asked, is it better that the ministers of the Gospel should run here and there, to give only a slight and partial taste of it in each place, or that they should remain, and instruct perfectly the hearers whom they have once obtained? I reply. The design of Christ, which is here mentioned, was agreeable to the injunction and call of the Father, and was founded on the best reasons. For it was necessary that Christ should travel, within a short period, throughout Judea, to awaken the minds of men, on all sides, as if by the sound of a trumpet, to hear the Gospel. But on this subject we must treat more fully under another passage.

Matthew 8:4; Mark 1:44. For a testimony to them Some consider testimony to mean here a law or statute, as it is said in the Book of Psalms, God laid down this for a testimony to Israel,” (Psalm 122:4.) But this appears to me to be a poor exposition: for I have no doubt that the pronoun to them refers to the priests.496496     According to the view which Calvin rejects, the words, which Moses commanded for a testimony to them, mean, “which Moses delivered to them, that is, to the people of Israel, as a divine ordinance.” The view which he adopts may be more clearly brought out by a different arrangement of the words. Present, for a testimony to them, that is, “to the priests,” the offering which Moses commanded. — Ed Christ said this, in my opinion, with a view to the present occurrence: for this miracle was afterwards to be a sufficiently clear proof for convicting them of ingratitude. There is nothing inconsistent with this in the command which Christ gave to the leper to maintain silence: for he did not intend that the remembrance of the miracle which he had wrought should remain always buried. When the leper, at the command of Christ, came into the presence of the priest, this was a testimony to them, which would render them inexcusable, if they refused to receive Christ as the minister of God; and would, at the same time, take away occasion for slander, since Christ did not neglect a single point of the law. In a word, if they were not past cure, they might be led to Christ; while, on the other hand, so solemn a testimony of God was sufficiently powerful to condemn them, if they were unbelievers.

Mark 1:45. So that Jesus could no longer enter openly into cities Hence we learn the reason why Christ did not wish the miracle to be so soon made known. It was that he might have more abundant opportunity and freedom for teaching. Not that his enemies rose against him, and attempted to shut his mouth, but because the common people were so eager to demand miracles, that no room was left for doctrine. He wished that they would all be more attentive to the word than to signs. Luke accordingly says, that he sought retirement in the deserts He avoided a crowd of men, because he saw, that he would not satisfy the wishes of the people, without overwhelming his doctrine by a superfluity of miracles.497497     “Que quant et quant il ne fist tant de miracles, que cela les empescheroit de bien penser a la doctrine;” — “without doing so many miracles as to prevent them from thinking properly about his doctrine.”