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In die Skriflig

On-line version ISSN 2305-0853
Print version ISSN 1018-6441

Abstract

VILJOEN, Francois P.. Jesus healing the leper and the Purity Law in the Gospel of Matthew. In Skriflig (Online) [online]. 2014, vol.48, n.2, pp.01-07. ISSN 2305-0853.

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.

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