Worshipped him--i.e., as in St. Mark, "falling on his knees," or in St. Luke, "falling on his face," in the highest form of Eastern homage. The act gave to the word "Lord" the emphasis of one, at least, of its higher meanings.
If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.--The words imply either that he had seen or heard of our Lord's works of healing, or that His words had impressed him with the belief that the Teacher must have a power extending to acts also. There does not appear to have been any previous case of leprosy miraculously cleansed. The words of the man involve a singular mingling of faith and distrust. He believes in the power, he does not as yet believe in the will. Can it stoop to one so foul as he? If he shared the common feeling that leprosy was the punishment of sin, he might ask: himself, Will He pity and relieve one so sinful?
"a leper that enters into Jerusalem is to be beaten; but if he enters into any of the other walled towns, though he has no right, as it is said, "he sitteth alone", he is not to be beaten.''
Besides, this leper, as Luke says, was "full of leprosy", Luke 5:12 see the note there; and he might be pronounced clean by the priest, though not healed, and so might go into any city or synagogue: the law concerning such an one, in Leviticus 13:1 is a very surprising one; that if only there were some risings and appearances of the leprosy here and there, the man was unclean; but if "the leprosy covered all his flesh", then he was pronounced clean; and such was this man: he was a very lively emblem of a poor vile sinner, full of sin and iniquity, who is brought to see himself all over covered with sin, when he comes to Christ for pardon and cleansing; and is so considered by Christ the high priest, when he applies his justifying righteousness and sin purging blood to his conscience. A leper, by the Jews (d), is called "a wicked" man; for they suppose leprosy comes upon him for evil speaking. This account is ushered in with a "behold", as a note of admiration and attention, expressing the wonderfulness of the miracle wrought, and the seasonableness of it to confirm the doctrines Christ had been preaching to the multitude. This man came of his own accord, having heard of the fame of Christ;
and worshipped him in a civil and respectful way, showing great reverence to him as a man; which he did by falling down on his knees, and on his face; prostrating himself before him, in a very humble and submissive manner, as the other evangelists relate: for that he worshipped him as God, is not so manifest; though it is certain he had an high opinion of him, and great faith in him; which he very modestly expresses,
saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean: he was fully assured of his power, that he could make him clean, entirely rid him of his leprosy, which the priest could not do; who could only, according to the law, pronounce him clean, so that he might be admitted to company, but could not heal him of his disease: this the poor man was persuaded Christ could do for him, and humbly submits it to his will; of which, as yet, he had no intimation from him. And thus it is with poor sensible sinners under first awakenings; they can believe in the ability of Christ to justify them by his righteousness, cleanse them by his blood; and save them by his grace to the uttermost: but they stick at, and hesitate about his willingness, by reason of their own vileness and unworthiness.
(b) Misn. Celim. c. 1. sect. 7. (c) Maimon. Biath Hamikdash, c. 3. sect. 8. & in Misn. Celim. c. 1. sect. 8. (d) Maimon. in Misn. Negaim, c. 12. sect. 5. & Bartenora in ib. sect. 6.