Excerpt from “The Holy One Called Isa,” by Pastor Ward Clinton:
In the Injil (New Testament) there is no disease regarded with more terror and pity than leprosy. When Jesus sent out the Twelve he commanded them “Heal the sick, cleanse lepers.” (Matt 18:8) The fate of the leper in that day was truly hard. There were some other skin diseases which were mistakenly classified as leprosy such as ringworm or psoriasis and when they went away there was a prescribed ritual to go through to be declared “clean.”
The leprous person could not come closer than a stone’s throw to a non-leprous person and if they did people would typically react in fear and drive them back with stones. From Peter’s recorded perspective it appears the leper came closer than allowed but it is also likely he actually did not, only coming as close as he could before falling to his knees and making his plea. Whether he came closer than allowed by law or stopped short isn’t important; what is important is that Jesus cared enough to reach out and tenderly touch the untouchable one as well as completely cure. It was a demonstration of the one true God’s compassion; if we will only approach and humbly request He will bridge the remaining gap because He longs to establish/restore the fellowship that has been broken by the barrier of sin between an unholy being and the thrice Holy God.
Many a man on the face of this planet ignorantly and arrogantly thinks he will be able to approach God and plead the case that he himself is not so bad as some of his fellows and for that reason alone he must be allowed into heaven. Many a man thinks that so long as his good deeds outweigh his bad deeds then he must be accepted but that also is a corrupt teaching from sinful man. Sadly, he will be met with justice rather than mercy because he has chosen to act in pride rather than humility. It is only those who by faith apply to Christ Jesus for mercy and grace who will find that He is quite willing and capable of providing the mercy and grace they need and seek and he will bring them into the presence of the one true God.
Jesus then sent the man to go fulfill the prescribed ritual. We need not see this man as failing to obey, for he probably completed the task assigned except that he simply could not keep silent for the joy of deliverance. How can a sin-sick soul that comprehends the cure which has been effected by the power of such a gracious, loving God (yes, the one true God really does have compassion on us) be silent regarding the cure?