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8. Jesus as Healer

When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

5And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

14And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. 15And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.

16When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: 17That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

18Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. 19And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 20And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 21And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 22But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

23And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. 24And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 25And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. 26And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. 27But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

28And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. 29And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? 30And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. 31So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. 32And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. 33And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. 34And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

4. And Jesus saith to him, See that thou tell it not to any one Some persons, by way of excusing the leper, think that Christ did not seriously forbid him to publish the miracle, but rather gave him an additional excitement to do so. Others more justly consider the reason of the prohibition to have been, that the full “time was not yet come,” (John 7:6.) I do acknowledge, that to have suppressed this miracle would have been improper: but our Lord had a particular reason for wishing that the report of it should not be immediately spread, or, at least, not by the leper The leper was so far from deserving praise for the disorderly exhibition of his regard, that he ought, in my opinion, to be condemned for not obeying Christ’s injunction. If he wished to express his gratitude to him to whom he was indebted for his cure, no better method could have been found than obedience, which God prefers to all sacrifices, (1 Samuel 15:22,) and which is the origin and foundation of lawful worship. This example shows us, that those who allow themselves to be guided by inconsiderate zeal act improperly, because the more eager they are to please God, the greater progress do they make in rebellion to his commands.

Show thyself to the priest As the ceremonies of the law had not yet been repealed, Christ did not wish that they should be despised or neglected. Now, God had commanded in the law that, if any man had been cleansed from leprosy, he should present himself to the priest with a sacrifice of thanksgiving, (Leviticus 14:2.) The design492492     “Le but de ce commandement;” — “the end of that commandment.” was, that the priest, by his decision, might attest the benefit received from God; and that the person who had been healed might give an expression of his gratitude. Christ, therefore, by sending the leper to the priest, proves that he had no other object in view than to display the glory of God. The showing to the priest was for the purpose of examination, and the offering was the expression of thanksgiving. He wishes that the priests should examine the man, to make the divine favor manifest and undoubted; and that the leper, on the other hand, should acknowledge that God had healed him. Meanwhile, as I have just mentioned, he commands them to observe the ceremonies prescribed by the law, till the time when it should be repealed.

The attempt of the Papists to produce this passage, as an authority for their own confession,493493     Those who wish to make themselves acquainted with Calvin's views on the whole subject of what the Papists call auricular confession, will find them stated in the Institutions of the Christian Religion (B. III. c. iv. sec. 19.) — Ed is highly foolish. Leprosy, they allege, is put allegorically for sin; and the priests, who are consecrated by the Pope, are the judges of spiritual leprosy.494494     “Doivent avoir le jugement et la cognoissance de la ladrerie spirituelle;” — “ought to have the judgment and discernment of spiritual leprosy.” Even granting that this authority was conferred on the priests under the law, for the purpose of informing the people, that all their cleanness, and the decision respecting it, depended on the priesthood, still this is impiously claimed for themselves by the Popish priests. All the honor that belonged to the ancient priests is now claimed by Christ alone as his own. He alone is appointed to be the judge of spiritual leprosy, and entitled to receive, from those who have been cured, the offering for their cleansing. Under the law, a sacrifice was employed as the seal of cleanness, because satisfaction made by the shedding of blood is the only way in which men are cleansed. To transfer to another that right, which God has declared to be the prerogative of his own Son, is a detestable sacrilege. When the ministers of the Gospel, by the command of Christ, declare to sinners that they are cleansed from their sins, this must not be tortured into the pretended jurisdiction, which the priests imagine, of pronouncing a decision about leprosy.495495     “De discerner entre ladrerie et ladrerie;” — “of distinguishing between leprosy and leprosy.”


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