What does Luke 5:13 mean?A man suffering from an advanced stage of leprosy has approached Jesus and expressed faith that Jesus can heal him (Luke 5:12). Jesus responds by making him clean. The Mosaic law stated that victims of leprosy had to live outside the places other people lived and couldn't worship in the temple. The Talmudic laws during Jesus' time were less restrictive. Those with leprosy could enter unwalled cities and even go to synagogue so long as they were separated. But beyond suffering from the leprosy that fills his body, the spiritual and social aspects are still devastating. Jesus heals the man physically and also allows him to be reintegrated into his family, social groups, and religious practice.
How Jesus heals the leper involves doing something socially unacceptable in that culture: touching him.
There is a moderate debate as to whether this act makes Jesus ceremonially unclean. Most scholars say no, comparing Jesus to the articles in the temple (Exodus 29:37; 30:29) or to the coal that touched Isaiah's lips (Isaiah 6:7), holy items that take uncleanness and make it clean while remaining clean, themselves. The Talmud says that a person with leprosy cannot make Jerusalem and/or the temple unclean by their presence because of the inherent holiness of God's chosen places. Still others say the man is already clean and merely wants Jesus to give a priestly confirmation—which Jesus is unqualified to do as He is not an Aaronic priest and doesn't oversee sacrifices.
A straightforward reading of Scripture seems to validate the idea that Jesus could become ceremonially unclean, as would anyone else. Despite many scholars' insistence otherwise, it's relevant to note He made Mary unclean at His birth (Leviticus 12:2; Luke 2:22).
Whether the touch made Jesus ceremonially unclean or not, the event is still significant. Jesus could heal the man by merely speaking (Luke 7:1–10) but touches him, instead. Healing the ill was related to the Messiah in extra-biblical Jewish writings such as Jubilees 23:26–30 and 1 Enoch 5:8–9. The healing is more important than the minutiae surrounding it.