“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.
The man walked toward Jesus, his robes torn, his hands, feet, and face bearing the marks of a disfiguring disease. Instead of staying on the other side of the road to avoid contact with people, he walk toward Jesus. Custom and law required that he avoid people, shouting out the warning “unclean, unclean!” so that others might stay away. Maybe he had heard of the miracles, maybe he had heard of the mercy… whatever he had heard, was enough to get him to Jesus.
Leprosy in the Bible is associated with a curse from God, a terrible punishment. There were laws around how to handle someone afflicted with the disease, and how the afflicted person was to live in community. This disease, unlike others, had deep social and relational implications. Those infected with leprosy were isolated and disconnected from the larger community and even their own families. This man’s interaction with Jesus broke all these rules.
It was scandalous that Jesus allowed this man into His presence. That He might allow a leper close enough to touch, was unimaginable. But, Jesus was not concerned for His own reputation, He cared more about the man before Him. Jesus responded to the faith of an outcast who fell at the feet of Love. This man believed that Jesus could meet his greatest need… IF he was willing. Don’t I know the taste of that question in my own life?! If you are willing, Lord… you can make me whole, free, strong… and the giant BUT that is left out… I’m not sure you are willing. I’m not sure you care. I’m not sure you know. I’m not sure… of You.
There on the dusty street, with His followers and onlookers watching, Jesus’ compassion propelled His action as he reached out to touch the man. He didn’t first heal and then touch, but He touched the man in his brokenness. How many years had it been since this man had felt the touch of another? Jesus still touches the unclean. He still reaches into the lives of humans and touches us in the place of our great brokenness… with compassion. This Jesus sees our greatest need… and meets it.
I pray that we too might find the shaking courage to bring our brokenness to Jesus. That we might have the faith to open up the hidden wounds and ask for healing, restoration, intimacy. Rather than covering our wounds and hiding from community, I pray that we might bring them directly to the One who can heal our souls. Might we be willing to look up to Jesus with hope in our hearts?
Jesus is still willing to enter into our broken lives, to touch hearts, bodies, minds with compassion. He is willing to meet our need for community, for intimacy, for love. He is willing… and able. Jesus brought healing and restoration to this man through His ministry of compassion. And as His followers, He calls us to join with Him in this ministry. We are called to join Him in offering compassion and a healing touch to a broken world. Jesus looked into this broken life and lived compassion in both word and deed. He touched this man, spoke words of hope over him, and healed him. How will you join Him in this ministry today?