[Jesus] was once in a certain town where there happened to be a man covered with leprosy. Seeing Jesus, he bowed to the ground and begged his help. “Sir,” he said, “if only you will, you can cleanse me.”
Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “Indeed I will. Be clean again.” The leprosy left him immediately. Jesus then ordered him not to tell anybody. “But go,” he said, “Show yourself to the priest, and make the offering laid down by Moses for your cleansing; that will certify the cure.”
But the talk about him spread all the more; great crowds gathered to hear him and to be cured of their ailments.
But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.
The same story is in all the synoptic gospels; Mark has it that Jesus was angry about the request. Angry, knowing that the news will get out and he will be overwhelmed with other people in need?
Or is it that he’s being drawn into conflict with the Temple in Jerusalem? The system of sacrifices was the officially-sanctioned means for returning people to right relationship to God, for “forgiving” whatever obstacles prevented the nation from ending its long “exile” and enjoying God’s “kingdom” as it was supposed to be– not for example, dominated by pagan foreigners allied to corrupt local rulers. Which is precisely what Jesus is setting out to do… without such sacrifices.
“Cleansing” of leprosy is what a priest, provided with a suitable sacrifice, is supposed to do. But Jesus has been asked to “cleanse” this man– and is sending him to the priest to make the sacrifices afterward, merely to “certify the cure.”
There’s a conflict of jurisdiction that’s going to worsen, as we will soon see.