“Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” Matthew viii:2.
The Lord Jesus found great faith in unexpected places. People who did not have much contact with Him had greater faith in Him than those who constantly walked with Him! We see several such examples of great faith in chapters viii and ix of the Gospel of Matthew.
After Jesus concluded his Sermon on the Mount, he came down from the mountain. Matthew notes that a great crowd followed him. That’s when a leper found the courage to approach Jesus and to kneel before Him. We know that lepers were considered ceremonially unclean by the Jews of those days. All lepers had to dwell outside a city or town, far from human habitation. If ever they chose to come into a village or town, they had to warn other people of their uncleanness by shouting, “Unclean, unclean!”
The leper who knelt before Jesus was desperate to get healing and to get back to a normal life. Why else would he risk being the object of public wrath by approaching Jesus and the crowds? His prayer teaches us some important lessons. First, he did not doubt Jesus’ ability to cleanse him. That’s why he said, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” When we compare this man’s prayer with that of an unbelieving father whom Jesus met when he descended from the Mount of Transfiguration, we’ll get the point. That father told Jesus, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” (Mark 9:22) Unlike the leper, this father wasn’t sure whether Jesus could do anything at all!
Second, although he had great faith in Jesus, the leper acknowledged the supremacy of Jesus’ will in the matter. Therefore, he was willing to subject his request to Jesus’ sovereign will. If Jesus so desired, he would be healed; if not, he wouldn’t be healed. Submission to God’s will – as we pray for healing – is not a sign of unbelief.
By kneeling before Jesus and by making his request known, he was asking for Jesus’ mercy. And that’s what he got! Jesus was moved by his faith and humility. Jesus stretched out his hand and touched the leper and said, “It’s my will; be clean.” That very instant, the man was cleansed. There was no trace of leprosy on his body!
The leper’s prayer is a model for all who seek a divine intervention in their lives. May we never doubt God’s ability in performing a miracle. Instead, let’s declare our faith even as we submit to God’s will. Whether God chooses to answer our prayer or not, He still is the Almighty God. Unanswered prayers must never shake our confidence in His goodness or power. He is God and He does what is good in His eyes. All we can do is to seek His mercy and favor. And when He smiles at us and stretches out His hand, we’ll receive answers to our prayers.