Matthew 8:3 MEANING

Matthew 8:3
(3) Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him.--The act was itself a proof at once of the will and the power to heal. He did not fear becoming unclean by that contact, and was therefore not subject to the law that forbade the touch. And He met the one element of doubt in the sufferer's mind by the words--yet more, perhaps, the tone or look that told of pity--"I will; be thou clean." St. Mark adds, "Had compassion on him."

Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.--We may venture to picture the process to our minds: the skin cleansed, the sores closed, the diseased whiteness giving way to the tints and tones of health.

Verse 3. - And Jesus put forth (and he stretched forth, Revised Version) his hand, and touched him. The careful record of the twofold action may be either a trace of the increasing astonishment of the bystanders or a means of indicating that this was no accidental touch, but the result of deliberate will (cf. Matthew 14:31). According to the Law (Leviticus 13:46 with Leviticus 11:40), our Lord by this action would become unclean until the evening. But of this there is no hint. That indeed he could not by it contract any real impurity, or even any ceremonial impurity in the eyes of God, is self-evident. But how could he himself justify his exemption from the Law? and how could the people justify it? Probably both he and they felt that as "the priests, in their contact with the leper to be adjudged, were exempted from the law of defilement," much more was the One who "cleansed" him. "He says, I will,' to meet the heresy of Photinus. He commands, because of Afius. He touches, because of Manichseus" (Ambrose, in Ford). Saying, I will (θέλω). Synchronous with the action. Be thou clean; be thou made clean (Revised Version); καθαρίσθητι. The external power which the man had himself acknowledged was now applied to him, and he was made clean by it, physically and therefore ceremonially (cf. Bishop Westcott, on 'Hebrews,' p. 346). And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (On the parallel passage in Mark and Luke, "departed from him," see Professor Marshall, in Expositor, June, 1891, p. 464).

8:2-4 In these verses we have an account of Christ's cleansing a leper, who came and worshipped him, as one clothed with Divine power. This cleansing directs us, not only to apply to Christ, who has power over bodily diseases, for the cure of them, but it also teaches us in what manner to apply to him. When we cannot be sure of God's will, we may be sure of his wisdom and mercy. No guilt is so great, but there is that in Christ's blood which atones for it; no corruption so strong, but there is that in his grace which can subdue it. To be made clean we must commend ourselves to his pity; we cannot demand it as a debt, but we must humbly request it as a favour. Those who by faith apply to Christ for mercy and grace, may be sure that he is freely willing to give them the mercy and grace they thus seek. And those afflictions are blessed that bring us to know Christ, and cause us to seek help and salvation from him. Let those who are cleansed from their spiritual leprosy, go to Christ's ministers and open their case, that they may advise, comfort, and pray for them.And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him,.... This is a wonderful instance both of the grace, and goodness of Christ, in touching this loathsome creature; and of his unspotted purity and holiness, which could not be defiled by it; and of his mighty power in healing by a touch, and with a word of his mouth,

saying, I will, be thou clean: in which he expresses at once his willingness, "I will", of which the leper before was not certain; and his power by a word of command, "be thou clean"; and in which also is shown the readiness of Christ to do it: he did not stand parleying with the man, or making any further trial of his faith, or objecting to him his uncleanness; but at once stretches out his hand, touches his filthy flesh, and commands off the disorder. A great encouragement this, for poor sensible sinners to betake themselves to Christ, under a sense of their guilt and filth; who readily receives such, in no wise casts them out, but gives immediate discoveries of his power and grace unto them:

And immediately his leprosy was cleansed, or he was cleansed from it; he was not only pronounced clean, but was made so; he was thoroughly healed of the disease of leprosy. The Jews, themselves acknowledge this fact; for so they tell us in their wicked and blasphemous book (e), that Jesus should say,

"bring me a leper, and I will heal him; and they brought him a leper, and he healed him also by Shemhamphorash,''

i.e. by the ineffable name Jehovah. Though they greatly misrepresent the matter; for this man was not brought by others, at the request of Christ, but came of his own accord; nor was he healed by the use of any name, as if it was done by a sort of magic, but by a touch of his hand, and the word of his mouth. Whether this was the same man with Simon the leper, Matthew 26:6 as some have thought, is not certain.

(e) Toldos Jesu, p. 8.

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