Feb 16, 2020
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
Two things get me about this. One is my own impression, one is a point I heard somewhere (can’t remember where to give credit where it’s due).
My impression is that this is a glimpse into the caring and loving nature of Jesus. He was filled with compassion. This poor guy was sick with a highly contagious, incurable disease and no one else would have dreamed of touching him. Jesus didn’t hesitate. Do you realize this may have been the first time in YEARS that this man was touched by another human being?
James 4:2 You do not have, because you do not ask God. I wonder about the leper. Going by other passages in the Bible, like the Jewish leaders berating the formerly blind man and accusing him of being steeped in sin from birth, it is likely the leper believed his disease came about by sin. It is almost certainly true this is what others believed about him. He might easily not have approached Jesus, thinking, “I don’t deserve to be healed,” or, “He won’t want to talk to me.”
I know from reading the gospels that Jesus NEVER just went up to people and healed them (My only beef with Monty Python’s Life of Brian, but that’s another story). He healed in response to either someone coming to him, or someone coming to him on someone else’s behalf (the only exception I can think of is the soldier in the garden but that is a totally different context). So that guy could have sat around wishing Jesus would heal him until the cows came home and nothing would have happened. He was risking public humiliation and maybe worse by approaching Jesus when lepers were generally shunned from society. But what he got from Jesus was love, and kindness.
I pray for other people all the time but have a hard time praying for myself. Not because I’m so angelic and selfless but because I don’t think I have any right to expect God to listen to me. Even after all these years—all the things he’s done in my life, all the times he’s proven his love for me, individually, I still don’t approach him with confidence. I’m in a lather about taxes this year because of the health insurance tax credits. I’m expecting a big tax bill and have no clue how to pay it. I’m seeing my tax person tomorrow and I’ve been in knots over this for weeks. It only occurred to me this morning to lift it to the Lord in prayer. Why? Because I’m a sinner who deserves to get a mammoth bill when I don’t have the money to pay it. I deserve whatever I get. . . . Oh, wait, I forgot: His blood washed away my sins, the temple curtain has been torn, and I’m allowed into the holy of holies. I get to talk to my Heavenly Father one-on-one. I was missing my earthly dad this morning, then remembered I have a heavenly one who is far more capable than even my own excellent father was.
Maybe I’m not the only one. Maybe if you’re reading this you feel the same way — unworthy. Just talk to him, anyway. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – James 5:7.
I’ll get to Part 2 next time.