Healing the leper.
April 2nd, 2002
Received by H.
While he (Jesus) was in one of the towns, Jesus came upon a man who was a mass of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he prostrated himself before him and begged, “If you want to Lord, you can make me clean.”
Jesus stretched out his hand, placed it on the leper, saying, “Certainly I want to. Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and Jesus warned him not to tell anybody, but to go and show himself to the priest and to make the offerings for his recovery which Moses prescribed, as evidence to the authorities.
Yet the news about him spread all the more, and enormous crowds collected to hear Jesus and to be healed of their complaints.
But he slipped quietly away to deserted places for prayer.
My dear friend, I want to discuss with you the passage that you were thinking of yesterday.
Jesus, as on many occasions, cured a sick man, plagued by a disease which was incurable at that time. And then he ordered him not to tell anybody. However, this man, in his extreme happiness, could not be silent, and so Jesus’ fame spread everywhere. Nothing bad in that, you are thinking. But the problem was that whenever Jesus presented himself publicly, crowds of people who wanted to be cured from their diseases immediately surrounded him. This is natural and very comprehensible, but it is also understandable that the Master, under such circumstances, often could not deliver his message. People did not come to listen, but to get healed. And it is also natural that on some occasions the Master almost had to escape: “He slipped quietly away to deserted places for prayer.”
The healing of sick people did not form part of the Master’s mission. He did it whenever it was possible for him to do so, but the last thing he wanted was to be renowned as a traveling miracle maker, as unfortunately some current Bible scholars conclude.
However the healing of diseases, especially of the so-called “leprosy,” entailed other consequences. The leprosy the Bible speaks of is not exactly what is understood as leprosy today. Today it is known as a slow and destructive disease that damages superficial nerves and then the skin and blood vessels, leading in extreme cases to horrible deformities. The “leprosy” of the Bible was defined in the Hebrew Scriptures, especially in the Book of Leviticus. But this crude and not very appropriate description led to the inclusion of other, not very dangerous and non-contagious diseases under the term of leprosy, bringing disastrous consequences to the poor people who suffered from them.
Firstly, lepers were not permitted to live in the cities, at least not in walled places. When people came near lepers, they had to cry out: “Unclean! Unclean!” to avoid infection. They had to wear torn clothes, and cover their beard and mouth. They never received greetings, because greeting meant not just a quick squeeze of hands, but a hug. They lived like pariahs, rejected by society.
But worst of all, the Jews believed that leprosy was a punishment by God. The leper, therefore, was a sinner of the worst category. And the lepers themselves believed this, because they had been educated thus. You can readily imagine the psychological damage this brought upon them.
[H.: See 2 Chronicles 26:20:
And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him (Uzziah), and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him.]
You know that true leprosy does not heal spontaneously. But as I have said, there were many considered as lepers who suffered from other illnesses, for example from psoriasis. And some of these cases were really healed. I just want to state here that the leper described above really suffered from true leprosy. But the healing, as in the case of Jesus’ miracle, or in spontaneous cases, was not enough to permit those poor people to return to society. A complicated process was necessary for declaring them “clean.” Amongst others, a priest had to examine the diseased person. If you wish to, you may reproduce here the whole procedure required by the Mosaic Law.
[H.: The Book of Leviticus 14:19-32, reads:
And the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed from his uncleanness; and afterward he shall kill the burnt offering:
And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the meat offering upon the altar: and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and he shall be clean.
And if he be poor, and cannot get so much; then he shall take one lamb for a trespass offering to be waved, to make an atonement for him, and one tenth deal of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering, and a log of oil;
And two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, such as he is able to get; and the one shall be a sin offering, and the other a burnt offering.
And he shall bring them on the eighth day for his cleansing unto the priest, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, before the LORD.
And the priest shall take the lamb of the trespass offering, and the log of oil, and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD:
And he shall kill the lamb of the trespass offering, and the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot:
And the priest shall pour of the oil into the palm of his own left hand:
And the priest shall sprinkle with his right finger some of the oil that is in his left hand seven times before the LORD:
And the priest shall put of the oil that is in his hand upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the place of the blood of the trespass offering:
And the rest of the oil that is in the priestÂ’s hand he shall put upon the head of him that is to be cleansed, to make an atonement for him before the LORD.
And he shall offer the one of the turtledoves, or of the young pigeons, such as he can get; even such as he is able to get, the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, with the meat offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed before the LORD.
This is the law of him in whom is the plague of leprosy, whose hand is not able to get that which pertaineth to his cleansing.]
Very well, but what did the cure of a leper mean? Leprosy, as we have seen, was considered a punishment by God because of the poor sick people’s sins. Then, if God removed the illness, He also removed the sins, that is to say, He forgave them. In that context, you may understand the several occasions when the Master mentioned the forgiveness of sin in connection with healings in the New Testament. And when Jesus, in a message through Mr. Padgett, explained that he had said: That thou may know that the son of man through the power of God can forgive sin, I say unto you, “take up thy bed and walk,” it is clear that he wanted to demonstrate that healings were only the visible signs of the power which the Heavenly Father had conferred upon him.
Those many healings would eventually stir up concern amongst the Temple priesthood, because although it is true that Jesus did not say that he forgave sins, it is also true that, according to popular belief, leprosy was a symptom of sin, a punishment inflicted by the Lord, and therefore, Jesus had so much influence over the Lord, or such an excellent relationship with Him, that God Himself listened to him, removing the punishment — and therefore, forgiving sins — whenever Jesus asked Him to do so.
Tragically, the Temple priests did not have that capacity, which alerted them to the danger of people wondering eventually why the supposed representatives of God in the Temple did not succeed with what this simple Galilean preacher carried out so easily. Then there would be only two answers: Jesus really was the Messiah with extraordinary powers granted by God, or that they did not possess that spirituality this Galilean did, casting heavy doubts upon the nature of their priesthood.
Later on we will see the tactics that the Jewish clergy would use to discredit the Master, with very limited success, by the way.
To finish this message, I want to add some information on one of the Master’s important friends. I have already explained that Jesus, when he visited Jerusalem, frequently spent the night in Bethany, in the house of his friend Lazarus. However, in the same village there lived another friend of the Master, whom the Bible calls “Simon the Leper.” There are comments explaining that Jesus had cured Simon, although the Bible does not say anything in that respect.
In fact, the Aramaic word “garba” means “leper,” and “garaba” means jar maker or jar merchant. And this was Simon’s profession, he had never suffered from leprosy. In addition, this is why the alabaster box is mentioned in the anointing scene in his house. Neither in Aramaic nor in Hebrew are vowels written, so this confusion is understandable.
Very well, now we really have come to the end of our message, and there is nothing left but to say good-bye.
I am your Celestial friend and brother,
Judas of Kerioth
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