Daily Archives: January 7, 2021
Psalm 147:1-5 (ESV)
He Heals the Brokenhearted
147 Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
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.
Can you imagine how surprised the priest must have been to see this man standing before him, completely cured of his leprosy? Being a priest, he would have known the Jewish laws concerning skin diseases – that people suffering from them were considered ritually unclean and needed to be separated from the community. He would probably have remembered the story of Miriam, Moses’ sister, who was stricken with leprosy as a punishment for her sin (Numbers 12). If you had leprosy, the only way to rejoin your family and friends was to be declared clean again by a priest (Leviticus 14). But for that to happen, you had to be healed first – and that was unlikely!
So you can imagine the priest’s surprise. He must have been even more surprised when he learned that it was Jesus who did the healing! Clearly, Jesus was no ordinary rabbi. God was working through him in a new and powerful way, both to forgive sins and to bring back into community those who were banished because of sin or disease. Could he possibly be the Messiah?
Pointing to this passage, numerous Fathers of the Church have likened sin to a leprosy that separates us from God and from each other. And that makes sense, doesn’t it? We all know how a guilty conscience can leave us feeling isolated from family and friends. We know how sin can hurt, and even break, relationships. Isn’t it comforting to know that by his Cross, Jesus has restored us, both to God and to each other? We don’t have to remain isolated.
But there’s even more good news. God doesn’t just want to free us from isolation. He wants to make us into agents of healing! Simply by the witness of our lives, we can demonstrate to other people God’s ability to bring life, health, and wholeness. You may not be a fearless evangelist converting thousands. You may not be a charismatic preacher explaining Scriptures to a packed church. But a joyful spirit and a servant’s heart can be just as convincing as impassioned words. Like the healed leper int today’s Gospel lesson, you can make a difference!