A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
Have you ever felt like an outcast, or all alone, or suddenly placed in a situation where you felt very different than anyone else around you? I can remember feeling that way when I was a young child. My parents could not take care of me, so I had to live with my aunt and uncle for a while. Instantly, I felt different, sad and alone. I was emotionally and physically separated from the only ones I knew, loved and cared for– my family.
That was a difficult and painful time for me, but I can’t ever imagine what this man with leprosy had to endure. To be a leper in the time of Jesus was worse than a death sentence. You were forced to live a life of separation from everyone that you knew and loved. To be a leper was to be humiliated and never able to have human contact ever again, except from another person who had leprosy. People with leprosy experienced disfigurement of the skin and bones, twisting of the limbs, and facial changes.
Despite the great suffering, this man had real faith. He didn’t say, “Heal me! Heal me, Jesus!” Instead, he said, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” He had complete faith that Jesus had the power to heal him but he also knew that healing him may not be God’s will. Sometimes God places us in difficult situations for reasons our finite minds cannot fathom, but in faith we believe that God is glorified in the situation.
In this passage, Jesus had compassion for this man with leprosy. Instead of staying away from him, he reached out and touched him. That was probably the first touch this man had from anyone in a long time. Jesus’ touch was powerful, healing the leper completely and making him clean.
Jesus Christ is the only one who can touch us and make us clean from leprosy…or sin. For those who have been touched by Him, I pray that we can be like the leper who was so grateful that he could not contain the good news.
Note: Each day’s devotional is written by a different member of the GRC family.