Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
When I read these verses this morning, I was moved. Moved by the power and love that Jesus shared to those in need and willing to receive. In this case it is a leper who needed cleansing. However, there is more to this story than Jesus cleansing a leper. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the healing of a fatal disease is incredible enough. But there’s a lot more to it than that…something deeper than a physical healing…something that goes beyond what the eyes can see or mind can comprehend.
At the beginning of the verse we see that Jesus was being followed by large crowds of people. He wasn’t alone. Vast numbers, including His disciples, followed Him. Then “suddenly a man with leprosy approached Him.” Out of the blue, a man rushes up to Jesus. He wasn’t part of the crowd. He couldn’t be. He wasn’t allowed to be around other people. He was an outcast – deemed unclean. Not wanted. Socially unacceptable. That’s why he suddenly appeared. He was probably lying low, waiting for just the right moment to make his move. Otherwise, someone would have caught him and sent him away.
And so he appears out of nowhere. Can you imagine what happened? The scriptures don’t come right out and say it, but can’t you visualize the crowd. Shocked. Disgusted. Horrified that this man, this leper would dare to show himself and dare to come into their territory. I’m sure they were scared too. Scared that they would catch what he had. Leprosy was incurable. An outright death sentence. It was an ugly, painful, contagious disease that literally caused your flesh to rot away leaving you maimed, disfigured, and separated from those you loved. That is until Jesus came along. And this leper knew that and that is why he showed up “suddenly”.
When the leper gets to Jesus, he kneels. He bows down in humble respect before the man he knows can help him and then he speaks. “Lord” he says, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” He acknowledged the Lordship – the power of Jesus. He had faith – faith that he put into action and into words.
Now what happened next is the most amazing part of this whole story. Verse 3 : “Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.” Did you catch that? No – not the healing part – the touching part? Jesus touched him. Think about the significance here. Jesus touched the leper. He could have just spoken the word. He could have just said, “Be healed,” without the touch and the leper would have been just as healed. But he first touched him. Jesus touched a man that society had deemed untouchable. He reached out to someone the world had shunned. He touched him.
This wasn’t about Jesus showing power – this was about Jesus showing compassion. He knew that this man had not felt the warmth, the love, the tenderness of a human touch for years. And Jesus knew that this leper needed to know and feel loved. He understood his needs. Jesus went beyond the physical need here. He went deeper. Straight to the heart. He touched the man, healing his wounds, his hurts, his insecurities, his inner pain. Jesus’ touch cleansed the leper from the inside out.
Do you need a touch from Jesus? Do you need to feel warmth, tenderness, love, and compassion from someone who truly understands what you are going through? Who truly cares about your feelings, and your needs? Then it’s time you meet the healer. Go to Him. Call out to Him. Tell Him what you need.
Jesus can touch you. He is willing to reach out and make you whole; no matter how much the leprosy of sin has scarred you, mangled you, and messed up your life. He can cleanse you and heal you and give you a life brand new. He did it for the leper and he’ll do it for you. Just do what the leper did – Acknowledge Him. Trust Him. Ask Him. Trust me; you’ll never be the same!