lesson from a leper
There’s something about Jesus healing a leper I can’t quit thinking about. A man who should’ve kept his distance, brought his awful disease into the presence of Christ.
Over the past year, a group of guys I meet with and I have been reading and re-reading all the stories about Jesus in The Gospels. You’d think we’d remember and wouldn’t need to re-read them, but every time we read these stories, and discuss them together, we learn something new about Jesus. This story, from the first chapter of Mark, is one of the most compelling.
As an outcast man, a leper was assigned grave clothes to wear, because society considered them the walking dead. In this story, a leper came right up to Jesus to be healed. Lepers were looked down upon as though something they had done was the cause for their being afflicted with leprosy. Customs said you were to keep at least 6 feet between you and the “unclean.”
Yet, this leper has the faith to come close to Jesus and say, “if You’re willing, You can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus does exactly that.
This man didn’t just want relief from an awful skin condition that had no cure in Jesus’ day; he wanted to be made clean…made acceptable. No more being cast out and forgotten. He desired to be made whole.
Jesus is moved by his request, and his faith. He didn’t consider the man unclean or tell him to move out of His way. Instead, Jesus touched him.
No one, at that time, would have touched a leper. No one. But, all that was wrong with the leper ended in Christ.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
His name changed. Like Prince became “the artist formerly known as Prince”, this man must have become known as “the guy who used to be a leper.”
Here’s what I keep thinking about in this story:
· Everything ends in Jesus. Jesus didn’t touch the man and then contract leprosy, as most would’ve thought. Instead, He touched him, immediately taking this man’s disease and making him well…whole. In and thru Christ, the leprosy was gone.
· The man, who was literally falling apart and dying, is healed. And he is clean. Acceptable, able to walk within 6 feet of others, to shake a hand, to look another man in the eye without the other man looking away, to hug his loved ones and for them to hug him.
· This dying man didn’t do anything to deserve or earn a new life, but the impossible was done for him. He just came to Jesus.
This wars with our approach to God. We self-consciously clean ourselves up, fix what’s broken, make amends and strive to get right before we come to God. As if…
Many won’t come or open up to Him because of something in their life, or what they’ve done.
Let’s take a page from the leper. What’s holding us back? Is it anger, worry, fear, addiction, shame, broken marriage, or disappointment?
The same way the man’s leprosy ended in Jesus, so our struggle, whatever it is, can end in Christ. If we go to Him, we can walk away new. Just as He did for the man who used to be a leper, we can become the man or woman who used to worry, or be afraid, ashamed, addicted, hurt or broken.