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Lesson 3: Compassionate Hospitality

I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn’t touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God.

– Mother Teresa

Devotion: Read Matthew 8:1-4. Leprosy is a broad term in this day, referring to several types of skin disease leading to disfigurement. Because such illnesses are contagious, those suffering from them are isolated from others. Nobody comes near them, and certainly, nobody touches them—nobody but Jesus. Touch is important for people’s emotional well-being. A handshake, laying a hand on the shoulder, a hug. We need human touch. Who are the untouchables in our culture? Who did your family teach you to avoid? What are the various ways touch is included in our worship rituals? How has social media influenced the ways and frequency in which we touch and connect with others?

Personal Worship Option: Read Isaiah 45:22-23. Find a time today when you can physically kneel (beside a bed or desk, at an altar rail, etc.) to pray. Our posture in prayer matters. How does that physical position affect you? If you are physically incapable of kneeling, what physical act can you perform that accomplishes the same sign of respect and submission? If you choose not to “kneel,” explain to God in prayer why you will not.  

Dig A Little Deeper:

8:1 “Down from the mountain” refers to Jesus “sermon on the mount” teachings (5:1). Although the passage does not comment on the man’s faith, the fact he endured public disdain to come before Jesus in a great crowd demonstrates his belief in Jesus’ authority to heal. When have you had to endure public rejection, disdain, or opposition for your faith?

8:2 To kneel before someone is a sign of submission (Ps 95:6; Phil 2:10). When did you last kneel before someone? Where in our culture is kneeling considered appropriate? How does our culture demonstrate submission? What value does kneeling have when we pray?

The man suffering from leprosy does not ask to be healed. What is significant about the way he approaches Jesus? How does it reflect faith?

8:3 Compare this verse to Mark 1:41. Why might Matthew and Luke (5:12-16) remove the note about Jesus’ pity?

8:4 As is often the case in the synoptic gospels, Jesus asks those receiving healing or exorcism to not publicize their blessing. No reason is specifically given in the gospels for this “messianic secret,” but most scholars believe Jesus desires to be known as a teacher rather than a miracle worker.

“Offer the gift that Moses commanded” is from Leviticus 14:10-32, a long chapter dealing with those cleansed from leprosy. 

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