Luke 5:12-16 (ESV)
Jesus Cleanses a Leper
12 While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 13 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean” (Luke 5:12)
To be an outcast, banished from society must be a disastrous experience. Can you even imagine what it would be like to be told, “You don’t belong here anymore?” Yet this was the lost of those afflicted with skin diseases like leprosy in the time of Jesus. Having to live outside of town, these people were deprived of friends, family, and even religious observance. And this was on top of the physical suffering and decay of their diseases.
We can see one result of this devastating experience in today’s Gospel reading. The leprous man had no doubt heard talk of this young rabbi, of his ability and disposition to heal, of his kindness to those cast out by society. So when he had the chance to meet Jesus, he knew just what to do. He prostrated himself and proclaimed that he knew Jesus was able to heal him. He knew what he needed, he knew Jesus could help him, and he wasn’t about to miss his chance.
Praise God, his hope was not disappointed! While the people around Jesus may have cringed or turned away, Jesus didn’t hesitate. No, he reached out and touched the man, even though he was “full of leprosy” (Luke 5:12). He seems to be saying, “Of course I want to heal you. That’s why I’m here!” In that moment, Jesus gave back to the man all that he had lost: his health, his home, his family, and his right to worship at the Temple. It didn’t take convincing, bargaining, pleading or perseverance. With one simple cry to Jesus, he was healed!
How about us? We all have the disease of sin, and it threatens to isolate us just as much as that skin disease isolated the man in today’s Gospel passage. But remember Jesus’ response to him: “I do will it. Be made clean” (Luke 5:13). This is how he sees us when we come to him in a true heart of repentance. He is always willing to touch us, to heal us, and to bring us back to our Father. So no matter how “leprous” your sin may make you feel, throw yourself at Jesus’ feet. You won’t be disappointed.
Lord, teach me my need for you. Help me to put myself fully in your hands. Amen.