One day in one of the villages there was a man covered with leprosy.
— Luke 5:12 MSG
It truly was a death sentence. Once diagnosed with leprosy so much was lost…home, status, welcome, the right to choose, comfort, relationship, place…all this a result of a sickness that wasn’t chosen but caught. It could not be refused. There was no cure.
This leper most likely lived away from town in a special place reserved for those people. He would have been covered up with cloths. Food would have been brought to him. The only beauty in his surroundings was whatever nature provided. He would have looked with loathing or despair at the changes in his skin…in his body. He would have been without hope.
Can you imagine the emotions squeezing his heart as he heard about Jesus? What power hope has to ignite movement in the heart. What must it have been like to risk stepping into a world that avoided and shamed him? How fragile was the hope that lit courage to step forward?
What would your leprosy be? That thing that keeps you hidden and not free? That hard thing you can’t change…that you didn’t ask for? For the leper it was a sickness of body. More often for us, it is a sickness of soul. That place we just don’t feel good enough…where we continue to waste away…how would you describe it?
When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him in prayer and said, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”
“Are you willing?” It’s what we’re afraid to ask sometimes. How much easier to isolate in our pain than risk opening old wounds of rejection.
Can you picture the scene? People are going about their business when someone notices the leper and jumps back. Trying to get away from the danger, they bump into others who get upset until they see the leper and move back too. Soon everyone is clearing the path for the leper. Is it silent? Are they yelling at him to go back and not chance infecting them? What’s the leper thinking? “I must be out of my mind to do this…” “Please let it work, please let him be willing. Please, please…please.”
I wonder what “woke up” in the hearts of those watching our story unfold. What did the courage and deep desire for change in the leper incite in all who witnessed Jesus heal him?
How do your movements of courage affect those around you?
“If you want to, you can cleanse me.” What courage in this statement! What faith.
Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” His skin instantly became smooth, the leprosy gone.
I wonder if we have the leper’s courage today? I wonder if hope birthed from what we’ve known of Jesus might propel us out of our despairing, aching places? I wonder what kind of healing might come to us if we would ask?
Finishing our time
“We praise you with joy, loving God,
For your grace is better than life itself.
You have sustained us thought darkness,
And you have blessed us with life
In this new day.”
With a heart of thanksgiving for God’s great love, offer what is most genuine in you right now.
Go with God!