Original Research

Jesus healing the leper and the Purity Law in the Gospel of Matthew

Francois P. Viljoen
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 48, No 2 | a1751 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v48i2.1751 | © 2014 Francois P. Viljoen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 September 2013 | Published: 20 May 2014

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Francois P. Viljoen, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


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Abstract

Though, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explicitly states that he did not come to abolish the Law (Mt 5:17–19), in the narrative that follows directly after this Sermon, he apparently neglects purity laws by healing a leper (Mt 8:1–3). As an impure person, the leper was not supposed to come close to Jesus, but Jesus sympathetically reaches out and touches him. Furthermore, no mention is made of Jesus undergoing any purification rites after coming into contact with this man. Once the leper is healed, Jesus instructs him to perform only the third phase of the prescribed purification rite for lepers. Jesus is thus described as having the power and authority to heal the person and to declare him healed. What remains for the leper is to show himself to the priest and to bring the appropriate sacrifice, so that he could be accepted into the society again. In this article it is argued that Jesus, as the Holy One and miracle Healer, is not defiled by coming into contact with the leper. Purity flows from Jesus to heal the leper. As a teacher of the Law, Jesus enacts the true intention of the Law, which is to establish a holy community of believers within the Kingdom of heaven. This healing action forms a step towards the coming of the Kingdom of heaven. Thus, the purity laws find their fulfilment in Jesus. As result of this action, cultic purity transforms into a moral activity for the followers of Jesus.

Hoewel Jesus in die Bergrede eksplisiet noem dat Hy nie gekom het om die Wet ongeldig te maak nie (Matt 5:15–19), lyk dit asof Hy, in die vertelling wat direk op die Rede volg, die reinheidswette oortree het deur die manier waarop Hy ’n melaatse genees (Matt 8:1–3). As ’n onrein persoon was die melaatste nie veronderstel om naby Jesus te kom nie, maar Jesus het simpatiek na hom toe uitgereik en hom aangeraak. Hierbenewens word geen melding daarvan gemaak dat Jesus enige reinigingsrituele ondergaan het nadat hy in kontak met hierdie man was nie. Nadat die melaatse genees is, beveel Jesus hom om slegs die derde fase van die voorgeskrewe reinigingsrituele vir melaatses uit te voer. Jesus word sodoende beskryf as iemand wat die mag en gesag het om ’n persoon te genees en gesond te verklaar. Wat oorbly, is dat die melaatse homself aan die priester moet gaan wys en die gepaste offer bring, sodat hy weer in die gemeenskap opgeneem kan word. Hierdie artikel argumenteer dat Jesus, as heilige persoon en wondergeneser, nie onrein word wanneer Hy in kontak met die melaatse kom nie. Reinheid vloei vanaf Jesus oor na die melaatse. As leraar van die Wet beoefen Jesus die ware bedoeling van die Wet, wat ten doel het om die heilige gemeenskap van gelowiges in die Koninkryk van die hemel te vestig. Hierdie genesingsaksie is nog ’n tree in die koms van die Koninkryk van die hemel. Sodoende vind die reinheidswette hulle vervulling in Jesus. As gevolg hiervan verander kultiese reinheid na morele optrede vir die navolgers van Jesus.


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Crossref Citations

1. Jesus as Healer in the Gospel of Matthew, Part II: Jesus as Healer in Matthew 8–9
Richard A. Culpepper
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi  vol: 50  issue: 1  year: 2016  
doi: 10.4102/ids.v50i1.2116