Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16
Our Compassionate Savior
The life of the leper in ancient times was truly pitiful. It was thought in that day that someone with leprosy was cursed by God. Naturally, people were horrified of having the disease themselves. Thus, lepers were run off, and were the objects of stones hurled at them if they got too close. In short, theirs was a wretched life.
It was under these cultural conditions that this poor man approached Jesus. He had obviously heard about Jesus as his fame had spread throughout Galilee. He no doubt heard that Jesus could heal people. But he also must have heard something else – that Jesus was compassionate, that Jesus would not run away from him, as everyone else did, or worse, throw rocks. And so the man took courage and did what no leper would ever do – he approached another human being – he approached Jesus.
As Mark offers the fuller account, we will use his gospel. He writes that the leper came “imploring him” and knelt before him, saying, “If you will, you can make me clean.” The man did not doubt that Jesus could. I really don’t think he doubted that Jesus would, but spoke in a humble way knowing that he certainly could make no demand. And then, “moved with pity, [Jesus] stretched out his hand and touched him and said, ‘I will; be clean.’” Did you hear that? Jesus touched him! How long had it been since this man was touched by another human being? “And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.”
There is a whole gospel in this account. Indeed, it was considered so important that Matthew, Mark, and Luke recorded the event. You have a person in desperate need of healing. We are like the leper, people who are unclean because of our sins, who know that our spiritual sores are foul and festering. Like the leper, we know we must be cleansed in order to live. We learn of Jesus and approach him in desperation, “If you will, you can make me clean.” We know that he can, but will he? We make no demand; we presume nothing. We know that he owes us nothing. Our faith is weak, but yet we cry out.
And he hears us – and heals us. Through the blood of the cross shed for the forgiveness of sins, and through the resurrection which is the promise of a new life now and through eternity, he makes us clean, indeed, newborn. You need not hide in fear. Approach the Savior and be made clean.