Jesus Loving the Outcast

In the first 17 verses of Matthew chapter 18, Jesus performs a series of three miracles.

1. The Leper (v. 1-4)

Someone inflicted with leprosy was considered unclean. The Old Testament made clear that they were supposed to be separated from the rest of the community so that they would not spread the disease around. A leper was considered an outcast right along with prostitutes and tax-collectors.

Jesus not only healed him, but he did so with touch (v. 3)! He could have spoken the healing words (like the Centurion below) but Jesus healed him with his hands. The importance of a loving touch cannot be understated. This man didn’t just need to be rid of his sickness, he needed the love of Jesus. Know anyone like that?

2. The Centurion (v. 5-13)

We all know how the Jewish people felt about the Romans running their lives. Who can blame them really. If the US was taken over, occupied by an enemy force and we were forced to pay taxes to them, we mostly likely wouldn’t smile and hi-five their military personal when we see them at the 7/11.

Jesus not only spoke to the guy, but was willing make travel arrangements so the man’s servant could be healed (v. 7). However that wasn’t necessary. The Centurion had the faith to believe Jesus could heal the man without even seeing him. That’s real faith.

3. Peter’s Mother-in-law (v. 14-17)

In those days, women were not at the top of the social pecking order. It’s not that God ever said women were less important, in face, over and over again scripture esteems the value of both sexes as created in the image of God. But the culture had taken biblically defined roles (see Ephesians 5:22-28) and contorted them into something God never intended. Therefore, women were often treated as second-class citizens and given few opportunities  in life.

But Jesus didn’t look at it that way. It wasn’t men only who deserved his healing touch.  Jesus entered Peter’s house and saw his fever-ridden mother-in-law and immediately restored her health. (As a side note, we don’t actually have any record of Peter asking for an “in-law healing.” Jesus acted so fast, Peter didn’t have any time to protest!**).

The fact is that nothing,

not race,

not social status,

not background,

not medical conditions,

not your past . . . nothing can keep Jesus from doing something amazing.

In this passage, Jesus showed that he had authority over sickness and disease. Jesus’ authority over such things points to something even more important. He has the authority to forgive sins. As significant and wonderful as physical healing is, spiritual healing is the true need of every man and woman who has ever lived (Psalm 41:4, Luke 5:31-32). Physical healing is temporary — we will all still die one day. But spiritual healing lasts forever.

How do we get that healing? True cleansing and renewal comes through faith in Jesus Christ (Titus 3:5). He died upon the cross so that we could be forgiven of our sins and enjoy genuine spiritual life in union with Him.

While upon this earth, Jesus truly performed some incredible miracles, but there is no greater miracle than that of conversion.

**Ok, that was a bad mother-in-law joke. In all truthfulness, I  have  a very good one therefore such jokes do not apply to her!

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