“While he was in one of the towns, a man was there who had leprosy all over him. He saw Jesus, fell facedown, and begged him: “Lord, if you are willing you can make me clean.”
Reaching out his hand, Jesus touched him, saying “I am willing; be made clean,” and immediately the leprosy left him. – Luke 5: 12-13
In Luke chapter five, Jesus comes into contact with a man suffering from leprosy. This disease had already taken everything from the man: his health, family, social status even his dignity. In those days, someone suffering from leprosy was excluded from society, declared unclean by the priest, and forced to live alone outside the camp (see Leviticus 13:45-46). The disease brought shame to the one who carried it as he was obligated to cry out “unclean, unclean” to let others know not to approach. Oh what a sad way to live!
Nothing could heal the man of his disease and no one would dare approach him. Can you imagine living for years without ever experiencing another human being’s touch? Not a handshake, not a hug… This was this man’s daily reality. But then came Jesus!
Having heard most likely of the miracles Jesus had done throughout the region, the man with leprosy dared to ask Jesus for a miracle of his own. He begged Jesus to make him clean again. What he was really asking was for Jesus to take away a “curse” and the shame that had fallen on him in addition to his physical ailment. Therefore, he humbled himself and put all the faith he had in the only one who could possibly restore him.
If you have read other accounts of Jesus healing people, you know that all he would need to do is simply speak the word and it would be accomplished as he did for the centurion’s servant. Yet, this is not what Jesus chooses to do in today’s passage. Instead, Jesus dares to touch the man with leprosy. He reaches out his hand and touches the very thing that has caused the man pain, shame, and public humiliation. In that moment, Jesus’s touch expressed far more than words ever could. We can only imagine the man’s surprise and shock over this gesture.
There are four important keys that we take away from this story:
– Jesus’s action reflects that he cares deeply about our personal pain.
– He is not afraid to see and touch our deepest places of shame.
– There is nothing too dirty that Jesus cannot clean, not even our sins.
– Jesus specializes in restoring the broken.
No matter how desperate this man was to be healed, it certainly must have been a shock for him to see that the man of God was risking touching an unclean man and a sinner like him.
No disease, no hurt, no sin and no amount of pain could keep the Savior from extending his love, grace and mercy to one of God’s children and Jesus was confirming it through his gentle gesture.
Like the leper, many of us have places, very deep places of hurt and pain that we are ashamed of or at least not very proud of. We would rather hide those areas of our lives that sometimes cause us to feel disqualified from receiving God’s love and grace. Even more, those areas may be things from our past that we wish we could hide from God if given the choice. We certainly wish to hide them from public eye!
For some of us, those areas could be struggling with lust, regrets about an abortion, an ungodly relationship we were involved in, or anything that we know could have dishonored God. In some cases, it may not even be a sin but rather something terrible that was done to us with no fault of our own. Whatever it may be for you, Jesus is saying today:
I am willing. I am willing to make you clean, to make you whole again, to restore you fully and completely but you have to let me in the deepest, most wounded and vulnerable parts of your soul. Please let me in my child.
If you would only let the Savior in, He has the power to heal you. Healing is his specialty! Whatever your “leprosy” may be, Jesus already has the cure and He is willing to extend it to you. He is the cure. Will you be made clean today? Will you be made whole like the leper? The choice is entirely up to you. What will you choose today?
I am feeble and weary, tired of walking with the shame of my leprosy, my sins, my pain and my hurt. For far too long, I’ve secretly tried to hide this[insert your situation here] from you even though you are the God who knows and see everything. Today Father I release this into your hands. If you are willing Lord, you can make me whole again. I ask you to touch me, forgive me, and make me whole. I believe that you have the power to do it and I trust you to accomplish it. I know that your Word will not return to you void so speak Lord, touch me Lord, and let your perfect will be accomplished in me.
In Jesus’s name,