Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! Luke 19:38
When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, He said, “Love your enemies” (see Matthew 5:44). Today we have problems loving our neighbors, let alone our enemies. Jesus also said, “If your right eye offends you, pluck it out, throw it away from you. If your hand offends you, cut it off” (see Matthew 5:29–30). Have you seen anyone who’s fighting for the law do that? Have you seen any church practice that? Come on, that church would look like a huge amputation ward!
So what was Jesus doing when He said those things?
Jesus was bringing the law back to its pristine standard, as the Pharisees had brought it down to where it was humanly possible to keep. For example, the Pharisees thought that unless you physically commit adultery, you have not sinned, but Jesus said that if you look at a woman to lust, you have already committed adultery with her (see Matthew 5:28). Jesus demonstrated to those who boasted of their law keeping that it was impossible for man to be justified by the law. He also said that the moment you are angry with a brother in your heart, you have committed murder (see Matthew 5:22)! You see, Jesus’ definitive and impeccable interpretation of God’s holy laws brings man to the end of himself so that he will see his need for the Savior.
Now, I want you to catch a beautiful picture of God’s grace: the good news is that Jesus didn’t stop there. He preached the Sermon on the Mount and then He came down. Spiritually speaking, if the King had stayed on the mountain, there would have been no redemption for us.
Are you getting this? If Jesus had stayed high up in heaven and decreed God’s holy standards from there, there would have been no hope and no redemption for us. But all praise and glory to the King Who chose to come down from heaven to this earth! He came down the mountain. He came down into suffering, crying, and dying humanity.
At the foot of the mountain we see how He met a man with leprosy, a picture of you and me before we were washed clean by His precious blood. Imagine: an unclean sinner, standing before the King of kings. There w way the standards of the Sermon on the Mount could have saved him. There was no way the pristine and perfect standards of God’s holy commandments could have saved us. The King knew that and that’s why He came down to where we were.
In those days, people with leprosy were considered unclean and wherever they went they had to shout, “Unclean! Unclean!” (see Leviticus 13:45) so people would know to run the other way lest they became defiled by the disease. Needless to say, those with leprosy were not welcomed in public places. Yet here the man with leprosy was before the King saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean” (Matthew 8:2). Notice he didn’t doubt that Jesus could; he doubted that Jesus would.
Without a moment’s hesitation, our Lord Jesus reached out and touched the afflicted man, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed (see Matthew 8:3). Now watch this: under the law those with leprosy—the unclean—make the clean unclean. But under grace Jesus makes the unclean clean. Under the law, sin is contagious. Under grace, righteousness and God’s goodness are contagious!