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Go and let the priests examine you

Jesus knew about the weakness of the people and their faithlessness to believe in him. So in order to convince the lepers that they were completely cured of their dreaded skin disease, Jesus asked them to go to the priests.

Go and let the priests examine you

By K L Joseph, Trichur

According to the gospel of Matthew( 8. 1-4) (also to be read with the Gospel of Mark,1.40-45 and Gospel of  Luke 5.12-16 ), a man afflicted with a dreaded skin-disease (leprosy) came to Jesus, knelt down before him, and said, “Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean.” At once, power went out of Jesus and the man was healed. After healing the man, Jesus directed him to go straight to the priests to get examined.

Again on another occasion Jesus healed 10 men who were suffering from the same leprosy. This happening is recorded only in the gospel of St. Luke in chapter 17.11-19. When Jesus was entering a village; he was met by ten men suffering from a dreaded Skin– disease. These lepers not allowed coming in contact with people, stood at a distance and shouted, “Jesus! Master! Take pity on us!”

When Jesus saw them, he simply said,“Go and let the priests examine you on the way itself, they were made clean.” When Jesus, who being the son of the living God, the great healer and the redeemer, had healed all the lepers reported in the above  gospel readings, was there any need  for him to direct them to meet the priests? Was there any need for a second opinion? Evidently there was no need, since he was given the authority by his heavenly Father to forgive the sins and to heal the sick. But Jesus directed them to go to the priests, not because he himself was unsure of his healing powers or doubtful of  the  healing already done by him. Jesus knew  about  the  weakness of the people and their faithlessness to believe in him. So in order to convince the lepers that  they were completely cured of their dreaded skin - disease, Jesus asked them to go to the  priests.

There are two reasons for Jesus to direct the lepers to go to the priests. According to chapter 13:1-46  of  the Book of Leviticus, Laws and its Regulations governing Skin -diseases were given by God to Moses and Aaron. Apart from priestly duties, the Aaronite  Priests were also the Appointed  Physicians  by the Law of the Lord to  examine a person suspected of skin problem and to decide whether such person has developed  a dreaded skin disease or not.

According to the Law and its Regulations concerning skin-diseases, if a person has a sore or a boil or an inflammation on his skin, which could later develop into a dreaded skin-disease, then such person shall be immediately brought  to the Aaronite Priest.

The Aaronite Priest will then examine the sore or boil or inflammation on the skin of the affected person. If found necessary, the affected person suffering from the sore, or boil or inflammation will be kept isolated from others for a specified period for the purpose of close medical observation and monitoring the progress of  the skin problem.

If the  medical observation so done reveals that the person concerned is afflicted with the dreaded skin-disease, then the Aaronite  Priest shall pronounce him unclean. Such unclean person will then be bound by the Law and its Regulations in Chapter 13:45-46 of the Book of Leviticus. i.e he must wear torn clothes, leave his hair uncombed, cover the lower part of his face, and call out ‘Unclean, Unclean!.” He will remain unclean as long as he has the dreaded skin-disease.

So, since Jesus was knowing about the powers and authority that were empowered on the Aaronite Priests by God to attend the cases of the dreaded skin – diseases, he did not want to interfere with their authorised powers and dishonour them. So, he directed the lepers to go to the priests and get examined, even though it was known to him that they were already healed by him.

In other words, Jesus showed his obedience to abide by the Law and Rules of the World, as a citizen, since he came to this world as a human being. This stark reality is also evidenced from the scriptures in Chapter 17, 24-27 of the gospel of St. Matthew.

When the question  of payment  of the temple tax by Jesus was raised by the Collectors of the Temple Tax, Jesus did not react, although this particular tax was to be paid only by the Kings of the World, and not by the citizens. However, Jesus directed Peter to pay same.

Again on another occasion, Jesus said to the crowds and his disciples to obey the Teachers of  the Law and the Pharisees (Mathew 23: 3): “The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’s eat; there fore, do what ever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.”

(K L Joseph is a Church lay writer from Trichur)

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