Epiphany Third Sunday Morning Service (23 January 2022) St. Matthew 8:1-4
Last week, Colin consolidated and shared about the ‘Finger of God’. Throughout the Bible, we see God’s fingers at work. God pushed the archangel down to the pit when he sinned against God. Although God restored the earth with His words, His fingers created Adam from the dust. His fingers moulded and shaped the first man in His own image. His fingers formed Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. When humans fell into sin, His fingers gave the Ten Commandments to the chosen people. But when the Old Testament Laws and commandments could not save humans, the LORD God took human form. While He was a human, His fingers continued to do His Father’s will. When Jesus ministered in this world, He healed the sick, cast out devils, raised people from dead and fed the hungry with His fingers.
Today, I would like to meditate on the ‘Finger of God’ based on our Lord’s interaction with a leper in today’s Gospel portion, the Gospel according to St. Matthew 8:1–4. Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5 to 7 is familiar to all of us. When Jesus came down from the mountain, a leper came to Jesus. He came with the expectation that Jesus would purify him of his leprosy. “Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
The Old Testament also has a couple of passages about leprosy. In Numbers 12, we read the Lord’s anger was kindled against Moses’s sister Miriam and she became leprous. She was shut out of the Israelites camp for seven days. In 2 Chronicles 26, we read about the Lord smiting king Uzziah with leprosy. He was thrust out and cut off from the temple of the Lord. His kingdom was taken away from him and he was a leper until his death. In those days, leprosy was considered as the punishment people received for their sin. Lepers were treated as untouchables and they could not live and mingle with other people. Even in the synagogue, they had a separate place to worship. Being a leper was considered a curse and punishment from God. But this leper came to Jesus “and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean”. When no one was willing to go near lepers, Jesus stretched forth His hand, touched him and cleansed him.
Jesus could have healed the leper with just a word, but He touched him. What was the reason for Jesus reaching out to the leper? Jesus reached out to heal him, restore him and make him a witness.
Heal him: The primary reason for Jesus reaching out and touching the leper was to heal him of his leprosy. The leper must have witnessed Jesus’s miracles. He sought Jesus’s will to be healed. Jesus healed him immediately.
Restore him: Jesus reached out to save the leper’s life. The leper must have lived a lonely life away from his family and friends. He was an outcast. He was rejected by the society. Jesus healed him of his leprosy and restored his life.
Make him a witness: After healing the leper, Jesus told him to bear testimony of his healing by offering the gift that Moses commanded. Jesus healed him of his leprosy and commanded him to follow the commandment. Jesus made him a witness.
While Jesus was a human, His fingers continued to do His Father’s will. Jesus did His part with His fingers to break bondage and bring people to the Kingdom of God. He led people to accept the Kingdom of God and inherit eternal life. Even when He was crucified on the cross, He fulfilled His Father’s will.
There were times in our lives when we were living a life of sin. If we were to be punished like Miriam or king Uzziah, we would have become lepers multiple times. But when we came to Jesus, He did not cast us away. He reached out and touched us and our lives. He healed us and cleansed us of our sins. He has given us the breath of life to be His witnesses. We too have received a new lease on life. We have to be His witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. In John 10:16 Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd”. We as Christians are Jesus’s ambassadors. We must carry and reflect Him in all that we do in this world. We are to show His love to those who are ignored or cast out and to those who are the least in this society. Are we willing to reach out and touch their lives? Are we willing to save their lives and souls? Are we willing to offer our gifts to them? Are we leading them to the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ?
Our Lord is Alpha and Omega. He is the beginning and the end. In the beginning, as Alpha, His fingers moulded the first human from the dust of the earth and formed him in His own image. His fingers did everything to release us from our bondage. When nails pierced His hands on the Cross, Jesus did His part to bring the kingdom of heaven to us. We received salvation through the blood Jesus shed on the Cross. The finger of Jesus offered salvation and saved us from the eternal death. The finger of the LORD God created us. In the end, as Omega, His fingers will point us to invite us to His kingdom or reject us and cast us into the lake of fire and brimstone.
We celebrated the first advent a month back and are waiting for the second advent. Some believe in rapture and others believe in Jesus’ second coming on the Mount Olives. We are all sure Jesus is coming again and there will be a final judgement for the world. Jesus will separate goats from sheep on the day of White Throne Judgement. Matthew 25 says, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”. On the day of the great White Throne Judgement, will Jesus see that His fingers have worked through us? Will He see the sheep we have brought to His flock? Will our Lord invite us and the souls we have won to heaven? Or will His fingers point us to hell?
I pray the finger of the LORD God will prepare us and preserve us to inherit our eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. I pray we lead others to the kingdom of God. On that judgement day, I pray that none of us are found lacking in any way. Amen!