Last night in our Bible class at Hickman Mills we were studying the miracles of Jesus. There is a very brief, but powerful encounter Jesus had with a leper. Here’s Matthew’s account.
“When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (Matt 8:1-3)
There are at least three things noteworthy about this narrative.
(1) The Seriousness of the Leper’s condition.
Leprosy was a dreaded, incurable, and disgusting disease. It disfigured the face. Left black, white and red spots. Ate away the skin. And finally settled in the bones. Lepers were quarantined. Excluded from social contact. And considered outcasts.
Yet a leper came to Jesus. Called on Jesus. And Worshiped Jesus. Remarkable!
(2) The Leper had great faith.
Evidently he had heard of Jesus. Witnessed the power of Jesus. And believed that Jesus could heal him. He said, “If you are willing, you can make me clean!” We know very little about this man, but we know that his faith in Jesus was absolute.
(3) The Healing touch of Jesus.
Jesus responded in a deeply personal way. Yes, he healed him. But the scripture says, “Jesus put out his hand and touched him!”
I wonder how long it had been since the leper encountered human contact? The embrace of a wife? The hug of a child? The touch of a close friend? But Jesus touched the untouchable. The gesture of Jesus was a way of demonstrating his care, concern and compassion.
Last night as I shared this story with our church family, it occurred to me what a great lesson there is for you and I today. Think about these three applications.
(1) Leprosy is a metaphor for sin.
When we understand how awful sin really is, we see it as loathsome, repugnant and repulsive to a holy God. Sin stains the soul. Scars the conscience. And separates us from God. Sin’s stigma stings! Deep into our minds, hearts and souls. Sin hurts. Harms. And leaves us spiritually disfigured.
(2) Do we have faith in the Savior?
The great challenge of the Bible is for us to believe. To accept God at his word. To believe in Jesus. To accept his terms of salvation. To obey his gospel. Jesus said, “Except you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). Without faith it is impossible to have a relationship with God. Enjoy forgiveness. Experience cleansing. And receive our heavenly reward.
(3) Jesus is willing.
The golden text of the Bible affirms the desire of God for us to be saved.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus wants to embrace you. Receive you. He is reaching out to you. He is saying, “I am willing.”
In the midst of a wicked world, filled with the putridity of sin, it is easy to forget there is help. Hope. And cleansing. You don’t have to be saddled with guilt. Haunted by a hurting conscience. Grieved with an aching heart. And tormented by an appalling past.
Jesus, the great physician, offers spiritual healing. He is willing. The question is: Are you?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman