Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” (V.40)
Leprosy was the most feared disease of ancient times. It was a horrible disease in which people's hands and face and even their entire bodies were eaten away. In Christ’s time, leprosy was deemed as a punishment from God. Thus, lepers were considered to be outcasts and were ostracized from the mainstream of society. They could not directly approach their families and friends for help because people were afraid of contracting the disease. So, lepers were forced to live outside of city walls, towns, and villages and were dependent upon charitable donations of food, which their relatives left at certain predetermined places. Physical contact with others was strictly prohibited, and thus lepers were completely isolated from their loved ones.
In today’s selected passage, we have to understand that the leper who comes before Jesus is doing a bold thing and is making an outrageous request. He is bold because he leaves his designated place of isolation and breaks the community quarantine. His request is outrageous because everyone knew that only God can heal a sinful leper. At this point in time, people thought that Jesus was just a local preacher and exorcist. To ask Jesus to heal leprosy was a major leap of faith, for it meant that the leper was equating Christ with God Himself.
The leper also does not presume to be healed. He places himself in Christ’s hands saying, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” This statement indicates that the leper has faith in Christ’s power to heal, but he puts the burden on Jesus to do something about it. Christ can do this, but only if He wants to heal the man. The good news is that the leper’s bold and outrageous request is fulfilled. Jesus is willing to heal the man and make him clean. Jesus’ action of healing a leper is unprecedented in the history of Israel and is a truly extraordinary demonstration of power and compassion.
Many times we desire and really want to change things about our lives, but we need to realize that we must depend on Jesus to help us. We often suffer from the emotional leprosy of bitterness and anger, fear and anxiety, doubt and faithlessness. These things separate us from God, our loved ones, and our friends. We need Christ to heal us from within and to restore our relationships. The challenge that faces us today is this: are we willing to boldly and outrageously ask Christ to clean our hearts and minds as well as our bodies and souls? Christ is willing to provide the healing we long for, but we must be willing to come and bow before Him, fully trusting in his power to change and transform us without relying on the things of this world. Only then can Christ’s healing power be truly and meaningfully realized in our own lives.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, sometimes we isolate ourselves from our loved ones, our churches, and our communities because we allow resentment and hurt, insecurity and anxiety to overwhelm our emotions and ruin our relationships. Come among us today, and heal our hearts, mend our minds, and restore our souls. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.
Thought for the Day: Christ is eager and willing to heal us, but we must first humble ourselves before Him and faithfully and willingly be receptive to His transforming power.
Rev. Christopher Phil Daniel, St. Stephen’s MTC, New Jersey