Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Do Not Tempt the Lord Jesus –

But Worship Him Instead! Pt. 3b

Sam Shamoun

We proceed from where we left off.


Third Case

All three Gospels record an instance where a leprous man not only fell down to worship the Lord, but also physically touched him which resulted in his miraculous healing:

“And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ Immediately the leprosy left him.” Luke 5:12-13

Matthew’s Gospel indicates that the man was clearly worshiping Christ when he fell on his face and implored him:

“And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’” Matthew 8:2

To say that what Jesus did here was absolutely astonishing would be putting it mildly.

The Hebrew Bible absolutely forbade any physical contact with lepers, since such an infectious skin disease could easily end up contaminating a whole camp of people if left unchecked (cf. Leviticus 5:2-3, 5-6; 7:21; 13:45-46; Numbers 12:9-15; 2 Chronicles 26:16-21). And yet not only does Jesus willfully touch the leper, but in so doing he miraculously made him whole. This highlights Jesus’ absolute purity and incorruptibility since nothing could defile him.

These same inspired Scriptures are equally clear that leprosy is one of those diseases which God alone heals:

“Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper. And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, ‘If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.’ And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, ‘Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel.’ Then the king of Syria said, ‘Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’ So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy. And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, ‘Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.’” 2 Kings 5:1-7

This explains why there isn’t a single recorded instance of a prophet healing anyone of leprosy. Take, for instance, this same example of Naaman who ended up going to the prophet Elisha for healing. Notice what Elisha didn’t do:

“And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel. So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. But he said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? For thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing. And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.” 2 Kings 5:8-19

Here we see that Elisha never came out to meet Naaman until after the latter was cleansed from his infectious skin disease, and therefore never actually touched or healed him. As the context makes clear, it was God who miraculously healed Naaman by means of the Jordan River. This explains why Elisha didn’t come out of his house, since by remaining inside the prophet basically silenced any potential attempt of ascribing this miraculous healing to his authority or agency.  

Thus, Jesus is depicted as doing a work that God alone does, and as being morally incorruptible in the same way that God is immutably righteous and holy.

This brings us to the next example.


Fourth Case

“But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, ‘Who touched Me?’ When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, ‘Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, “Who touched Me?”’ But Jesus said, ‘Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.’ Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, ‘Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.’” Luke 8:42b-48

Here is another instance where Jesus is touched by someone whom the Law expressly warns against making contact with, lest a person become ceremonially unclean (cf. Leviticus 15:25-30). And yet as we saw in the case of the leper, Jesus didn’t become defiled or unclean by such contact. Rather, touching the Lord Jesus resulted in the miraculous cleansing and healing of the woman.


Fifth Case

The following is another case of Jesus confronting an “untouchable”:

“So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him. And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying…While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, ‘Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher.’ But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.’ When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl. Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, ‘Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.’ And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead. But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, ‘Little girl, arise.’ Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat. And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.” Luke 8:40-42a, 49-56

Once again, Matthew’s Gospel shows that this act of falling down at the feet of Jesus was clearly meant to be an act of worship:

“While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.’” Matthew 9:18

And once again, Jesus does what the Law strictly prohibited any Israelite from doing, namely, touch a dead body (cf. Numbers 19:11-13).

The foregoing examples show that, whereas these individuals which the Law deemed to be unclean and/or untouchables were incapable of defiling or transmitting their uncleanness to the sinless Son of God, the Lord Jesus, on the other hand, was able to transmit his perfect holiness and absolute purity to them, thereby making them whole again! 

This conclusively proves that Christ is immutably holy and pure in the same exact way as God is. And like God, Christ possesses the divine authority to heal and cleanse everyone that turns to him by faith, whether spiritually or physically.

Therefore, these folk were appropriately worshiping Jesus since this is the kind of response and gratitude that one shows whenever God himself decides to show up and stand in our midst!

We’re not through yet since we still have further examples of Christ being worshiped in contexts that point to his divine identity and authority.