One minute his body was covered in boils. He could barely speak. He could barely see the Savior. His pain was a constant ache, riddling his body for years. The world shunned him as unclean, unworthy, and unknown.
The next minute it was as if he had been in a time warp and was given his old self–as if the boils never existed. His words were new and strong. He was looking into the eyes of God.
Of course, He had to tell everyone in his home town! He had to show them that they were wrong about him. He knew he would be clean again. He knew he wasn’t deserving of their disdain. He knew they would see him as a living, breathing person. Not just a disease that infected their land. He knew all these things because of what he had heard about this man, Jesus of Nazareth.
Of course he had to tell the other lepers! He had to make it known that there was a real-life miracle worker! Could He be the Messiah? The one who would pull his people from turmoil and take over the Roman government? Could He be the promised King?
“See that you say nothing,” Jesus said. It was not a gentle sentence. He meant it. He spoke sternly, “but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”
He was confused. Jesus had already cleansed Him!
He did try to keep quiet, but the minute people began to see him and whisper to one another, he could no longer stay silent! He was healed! Perhaps the Messiah had come and was walking amongst them! Perhaps He had come to lift Israel into political power once again!
He went and told everyone what had happened. All the while, he completely missed the point.
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I have always been a little confused at Jesus commanding people to be quiet about His ministry while He walked about the earth. Aren’t we supposed to shout who He is from the rooftops? Aren’t we supposed to proclaim His name to all the world? Then why would He tell anyone to keep his miracles to themselves? Why would He tell them to say nothing when they had proof of who He was?
But did they?
They had proof that He could do something totally different than any other man or woman could do. They had proof that He was fulfilling prophesies of their Holy book. Even still, over and over again, people made it clear that to them, Jesus was going to make the politics new. They were convinced that He might use His powers to overturn Rome and never thought that it was their own hearts that would be the most valuable to capture.
I think part of the reason that this has confused many of us, is because we too have missed the point that the leper missed that day.
You see, the leper, like many at that time, probably believed that the coming Messiah would physically save them from bondage of the government. That He would restore power to the Hebrew people. He fixated on that aspect of a Savior.
But Jesus did not use His power to manipulate the government. He came to destroy the real problem: sin.
And how would He do that? You see, the miracles were for the good of His kingdom! They were to get people to see that He was God. They were a means for people to listen to his teaching.
Just like the leprous man, we see His miracles and beg for one in our own situation, forgetting that His is a teaching ministry. He wants to transform our hearts through His Word. He wants us to hear and understand Him, and He has made that possible.
Here we are, only opening our Bibles when we feel needy–when we want something from it.
We share of His goodness when we graduate college or get the job and neglect to proclaim His name even when we fail.
We are proud of what He does to further our lives on earth, and we forget that He has already brought us into eternity.
We love what He does for us. We disregard His hard-to-swallow lessons. You know? The ones that do not promote prosperity. The ones that promise hardship.
Now hear me say, it is not wrong to ask from Him. It is a glorious thing to give Him thanksgiving for the good in our lives. He is our provider. Every good and perfect gift is from above.
Yet I wonder how many good and perfect gifts we miss out on because we are more focused on His miracles than we are what He has to say through them.
That’s why He told people to be quiet. The point of His ministry was to teach His people how to be better disciples. They had been waiting for a literal King. They had given their own definitions of what the Messiah would be and of who they were being saved from.
And still, we do the same. We pick the easy to swallow pieces out of His Word and color over the stuff we don’t like. Pretending that it does not exist.
Jesus did not heal every leper. He did not raise every child from the dead. He did not save Simon Peter from being hung upside down on that cross, and He did not spare Paul from his beheading.
He allowed all these things in the name of His Kingdom being proclaimed. He performed miracles in the name of His Kingdom being proclaimed.
Jesus healed the leper that day. But Jesus healed many more lepers in much bigger ways long after He left this earth by bringing them eternally into His Kingdom.
What if we began proclaiming Jesus not just when things are going great. What if we began proclaiming Jesus not just when things are terrible and we need a miracle. What if we stopped focusing on the phenomenon and began focusing on what we learned from the miracle.
The point is that Jesus can do anything He wants! He can heal an incurable disease. But even more so, He can heal us from our incurable sin. He can raise Lazarus from a tomb, but even more so, He already raised His Son from death into a life that will never end.
The purpose of the ministry was not the miracles.
The purpose of the cancer is not the physical healing.
The purpose of the job loss is not the pay raise you will receive next time.
The purpose of infertility is not the pregnancy that will spectacularly come when you’re least expecting it.
The purpose of all these things lies in the glory of God.
If the cancer stays or goes, He is still the Great Physician. If the job loss helps or hurts your finances in the long run, He is still the ultimate Provider. If infertility remains or if it dissipates as if never existing, He is still a good Father.
The purpose of these things is how He teaches us in every step–good or bad. He will teach us to trust in His own way, and it may be hard. It meant dying of leprosy for many, and it will mean bearing the unimaginable for many more.
Jesus commanded the man to be quiet. Maybe if he had, he would have learned even more. What is Jesus commanding us, sisters? I believe that He is always commanding us to dwell in His purposes rather than becoming fixated on what He can do for us.
Remain in His teaching. Give thanks for His miracles. He is good either way.