Tag Archives: Leper

No Simple Lives

One thing I’ve noticed about people is that things are never simple. I think it’s because we are not simple. Our lives are made up of hundreds of nicks and bruises we have each experienced. All those blows, bad relationships, disappointments and life experiences make us who we are and it’s never simple to sort out.

A few weeks ago, as I listened to a couple working through some real problems in their marriage, I thought….”this is really complicated. There are no easy answers.” Honestly, I think that same thing almost every time I talk with someone. It’s difficult to sort out all the pieces of our lives that have brought us to where we are today. How do we get it all tied together so we aren’t tripping over ourselves? How do we work through all that we are to fix what we have become? Honestly, there are no simple lives. There are no simple answers.

But as I watch Jesus in the gospels I see his encounters with people in a different way. The difference is that he knew the heart of man and was able to go to the very heart of each person’s problem. With a word, a touch, a smile Jesus healed broken lives. He knew what each life needed.

Here is a story of one man’s encounter with Jesus. In this brief encounter Jesus meets the needs of this broken man,

Mark 1:40-45- 40A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” (If you are willing. It’s almost a question, Are you willing? Not can you help me? but will you help me? The most important question is this one, Lord, will you help me?)41Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” (The compassion of Jesus brought a response that I’m sure no one expected. In fact this leper was in front of Jesus contrary to the law that would keep him apart from others who didn’t have leprosy.42Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. 43Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44“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.”45Instead 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.

This story is one of my favorites in the gospels. It’s a story of the prayer we have all prayed, “if you are willing.” We wait, hoping God is indeed willing to meet our needs, but he does so much more. This man had been without a human touch, without real love and without acceptance for so long that his first need, in spite of his obvious illness, was a touch. In that amazing moment of time Jesus did the unthinkable….he reached out and touched this dirty, diseased man. The touch did so much more than heal the disease, it healed the whole man.

Like this poor leper in Mark we each come to Jesus with all our sickness and disease visible for all to see…the bible calls it sin. Our plea is simple, if you’re willing you can make me clean, you can forgive my sins. And with a touch…that amazing touch….we each find healing and forgiveness.

As a result of that touch and the love of Jesus to meet this man’s needs a great exchange happened. It happens with us when we trust him. Some call it the exchanged life and indeed it is. But with this man the exchange was dramatic. The man who had lived alone and removed from mankind was now among them. Talking, touching, hugging and telling everyone about Jesus to such an extent that Jesus had to go to the wilderness away from mankind and even there the people, all in need of his touch, sought him out.

Mankind is still asking this man’s simple question, “If you are willing you can make me clean.” And his response is the same, with a touch of his hand he replies, “I’m willing, be clean.” And so, with all our warts and wrinkles, all our problems and struggles Jesus comes to touch the hurting and heal each one. If you’re wondering if he can fix your messy life just ask him. You’ll be amazed at the smile, the touch, the acceptance and the reply, “I’m willing, be clean.”

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Outsiders

I have always felt like an outsider.
“Outside what?” you might ask. Outside everything!
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t have this sense of being on the outside trying to get in. The sense of being an outsider is something we all deal with. I think it’s simply part of being fallen. Sin separates us and creates that sense we are on the outside looking in. Everyone feels this same aloneness!
It’s this sense of being an outsider that makes us gather others around us to be on a new “inside” so that we no longer have that painful sense we are outside, alone, rejected. We create our own group and so now everyone else may be outside, but we are safely “in,” accepted, part of something. That is how gangs draw new members to such a difficult and harsh “family.” Suddenly you are wanted, needed, part of something and you’re no longer on the outside, no longer alone, no longer rejected.
Another way we cope with this is to get into an existing group. If we could only get on the football team, the chess club, the motorcycle gang……whatever the group we simply want to be “in.” To be included, accepted, part of something is core to our desires to belong. We will even become something we aren’t to fit in. We want to be accepted so badly some will give up core beliefs to belong. Being outsiders is just too painful.
God knows that about us. He knows better than we do what sin has done to us. One man understood this “outsideness” better than most, he was a leper, the ultimate outsider. He came to Jesus with a simply request. Here’s his story,
“A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.”The one and only “insider” with God, Jesus, met the ultimate outsider, this leper. He was outcast from every community, every group, everyone he knew. He was sick physically and emotionally, being an outsider messes with your head and this poor guy was desperate. He did the most unthinkable thing- he came up to the one man everyone wanted to be close to and asked for help. With one gesture, a most amazing gesture, Jesus invited him into his “group”, his community. Jesus touched him. An unthinkable thing to the Jews who watched, but the one who could remove all his barriers, all his problems, did the most important thing, he touched him. He made him, in that moment, an insider, accepted, loved, healed outside and inside.It so changed this guy that he couldn’t stop talking about it. He had been touched by Jesus even while he was covered in leprosy! It changed everything for him. It’s just the way a relationship with Jesus goes. An outsider approaches him and suddenly being an outcast is gone, he’s accepted and loved by God.For my fellow outsiders let me invite you to stop trying to be accepted by man. It’s never enough, it never satisfies and it won’t last. Come to the one who loves you just as you are now, with all your fears, worries and problems. In a moment and a touch he will make you the ultimate insider, accepted and loved by the one who made you. Eternally a son, a daughter of God. You can’t get more inside than that!

The Great Exchange

In my reading I’ve come to Mark 1 and one of my favorite stories in the bible. It’s a very short story…not much said about it, but it’s heavy with impact to me. I always slow down as I read this story because I love the message it communicates. Join me in the crowd as we watch what unfolds…. 

Mark 1:40 And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

This very action was completely contrary to the law. A leper was required to move from family and friends and live alone. If anyone came near who was not a leper the law required that the leper announce, “Unclean! Unclean!” so that those coming near would know not to get too close. This man did the forbidden, he came unannounced to the very feet of Jesus! When the crowds saw him I’m sure the outcries and insults were loud and emotional. How dare he come here unannounced. But his plea was an amazing one. Listen to his words over the cries of the crowd, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Mark 1:41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and *said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”

Now stop just for a moment and read those words again….moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. I can just see the faces of the crowd. Surprise, amazement, shock…how could Jesus touch a man covered in leprosy? I can hear the outcry, the shock. Now Jesus is unclean as well! Now Jesus has made himself an outcast. But he frames his touch with these words, I am willing, be cleansed.

Then it happens, in a moment, with a touch that changed everything for this outcast man…

Mar 1:42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Immediately, instantly, right then his life was completely different! Not only was he healed, but Jesus had touched him! I believe that Jesus’ touch was meant to heal two things- his body and his mind. A man who had not been touched in years was touched by Jesus. The compassion of that touch changed everything. He was a different man!

Mark 1:43 And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away,
Mark 1:44 and He *said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Mark 1:45 But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.

And here is the great exchange – the man who was a leper and outcast to the unpopulated areas was now whole because of Jesus’ touch and I can just see him hugging everyone he saw and telling them his story. His life was completely changed, and a great exchange happened. Now the outcast was welcome back into community, and the healer took his place….Jesus is now the one in the wilderness, in the unpopulated areas.

The story of the leper is my story. It’s his touch when we were in our sins that cleansed us, made us whole and gave us new life. And with his touch he took our sickness and sin on himself. He took our sin and sickness and gave us his life. The story of this leper who experienced the touch of compassion of Jesus that changes everything is my story, it’s your story. It’s the story of the great exchange.