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.
Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
- What did it cost the leper to beg Jesus from healing? He had to break law and approach Jesus. He got on his knees, a sign of reverence and humility. Did it hurt to kneel on his flesh-eaten knees? Are you willing to pay the price of your pride and comfort to beg Jesus for his presence and provision in your life?
- The leper’s humble attitude, “If you are willing . . .” might suggest he doubted Jesus’ desire to heal. Are you doubting Jesus’ desire to work in your life?
- Do you see the radical nature of Jesus’ touch? His touch conquers disease. The touch came first, and then the command to go to the priests and offer sacrifices. Thus, the sacrifices were for thanksgiving, not the means of healing. The Law cannot heal. Jesus heals. This is how the story would sound if the leper approached another rabbi:
A man with leprosy came to a rabbi, begging, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Filled with fear and revulsion, the rabbi jumped back, “Don’t you know the Law? You must yell unclean and stay away from others. If you want to be clean, follow the rules Moses laid out for sacrifice, and perhaps God will have mercy on you.”
Ashamed, the leper left.
- Do you have eyes to see the compassion of Jesus? Jesus reaches beyond the letter of the Law to the deeper principal. He opens our view of the Levitical practices so we see the compassion behind the Law, which was always for our good, not our oppression. Jesus doesn’t disregard the Law—he sends the cleansed man to the priest—but he exhibits the true nature of the Law, the love and saving nature of Yahweh.