In Matthew 8:1-4 we read, “When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.  And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.  And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.”

The gift that the healed leper was told to give to the priest is mentioned in Leviticus 14:1-4.  These verses say “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest:  And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop.”

Leprosy is a picture of sin since it defiles, spreads, and destroys a person.  The gift that was given to the priest is used for the judgment of sin and the cleansing of the leper.  We see this in Leviticus 14:5-7.  These verses say, “And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water:  As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water:  And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.”

There are beautiful pictures in these verses.  The bird that was killed reminds us of what we read in Hebrews 9:22, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”  The shedding of blood cleanses us from the guilt of sin.  The bird was killed over running water, which pictures the power of the Holy Spirit to cleanse us from the defilement of sin, as the Lord Jesus described in John 7: 38-39, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.  (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) 

The cedar wood comes from a very tall tree, while hyssop comes from a plant that is close to the ground.  However, both of these come from the same earth.  This may picture that God’s judgment of sin involves all who are found in this world, whether they be high or lowly.  Hyssop is also a picture of cleansing, as we see from Psalm 51:7, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”  Scarlet is a picture of sin in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”  The cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop were dipped with the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over running water.  The leper was then sprinkled seven times with the blood and pronounced clean by the priest.  The picture here is that the blood is applied through the power of the Holy Spirit, which cleanses the person from the guilt and defilement of sin.  Being sprinkled seven times pictures the completeness and perfection of the cleansing.

The living bird was then let loose into the open field.  This pictures Christ’s resurrection and ascension “far above all” as we read in Ephesians 1:21.  When someone repents of their sins and trusts in Christ as their Savior, Christ’s death and resurrection, pictured in these two birds, are applied to that person.  The Lord Jesus died in our place, took the judgment that we deserved, and rose again with glory and power!  The released bird also pictures the freedom experienced by the leper and the freedom from sin that we all experience when we permit our wonderful Savior to fully cleanse us.  All praise be to our amazing Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!  (184.9)  (DJ)