The Savior healing the leper is an opportunity to liken the scriptures to the youth. Leprosy was a symbol for sin. The fact that Jesus “immediately” healed the leper is significant (see Matthew 8:1-4). The following quote from Frederic Farrar emphasizes the idea that Jesus is quick to forgive:
All Christ’s miracles are revelations also. Sometimes, when the circumstances of the case required it, He delayed His answer to a sufferer’s prayer. But we are never told that there was a moment’s pause when a leper cried to him. Leprosy was an acknowledged symbol of sin, and Christ would teach us that the heartfelt prayer of the sinner to be purged and cleansed is always met by instantaneous acceptance. Instantly stretching forth His hand, our Lord touched the leper, and he was cleansed. 1
It is important to emphasize the need to “speedily repent” when we do wrong. The adversary would have us believe that because we sin, that somehow this means that the Savior does not love us, or that He does not want to help or forgive us. This is not true. When we come to Him, “immediately the great plan of redemption” takes effect in our lives (see Alma 34:31).
The faith of the centurion is a perfect example that just because someone is raised without knowing the gospel, they can show tremendous faith, sometimes greater than those who have the gospel all their lives. Jesus emphasized this by explaining that although the centurion did not have the benefits of instruction under the law, that he had not “seen so great faith, no, not in Israel” (Matthew 8:10). We are chosen and special through our choices, more than by our lineage. In the words of Elder Henry B. Eyring, “faith is not an inheritance, it is a choice.” 2
It is good to know that our being members of the Church is nice, but that alone does not save us. It is in our faith in Christ, our love of Him and following His example that we gain the faith necessary to lay hold upon eternal life.
1. Frederic Farrar, Life of Christ, p. 220.
2. Elder Henry B. Eyring, Inquire of the Lord, [remarks at an evening with Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Feb. 2, 2001].