The Leper

Matthew 8:1 … When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. ~ Jesus had just finished His sermon on the mount. A new covenant was here. Moses went up the mountain and God gave him 10 commandments. Jesus, God made flesh and dwelling among us, went up the mountain and gave us the Beatitudes, of which there are 10. No accident here. Paul talks about the shadows and types in the Old Testament. Theologians call it “typology”. And there were crowds both times. This thing, the giving of the word by the Word, wasn’t done in a corner. And there are more “types” to follow if we keep our eyes open.

Matthew 8:2 … Suddenly a leper came forward and did him homage, saying to him, “Sir, if you will to do so, you can cure me.” ~ Here is one desperate and gutsy individual. Lepers were not supposed to approach others. It was the law that they keep their distance. This wasn’t meant to be cruel, it was meant to contain contagion. No one wanted this dreaded disease to spread. But desperate situations call for desperate measures. The man was slowly rotting away. Here was a man who could work miracles. If he would. He can. But will he? For the leper to come forward took both faith and courage. He has faith when he says, “You can cure me.” But notice what he says first. “If you will to do so.” Even when our faith is courageous we tend to have a gnawing doubt in the pit of our stomach. “I know Jesus can, but will He?” The doubt is as much self-doubt as anything else. I doubt because I know I’m not worthy. Like the leper, somewhere deep inside, we all cry out, “Unclean!” Sometimes it keeps us away.

Matthew 8:3 … Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him and said, “I do will it. Be cured.” Immediately the man’s leprosy disappeared. ~ Just as the leper wasn’t supposed to step forward, just so others were never to touch the leper. But Jesus did. The leper had said he knew that Jesus could cure him … IF he would. When has God not wanted to cure the leper? When has God ever said no to one who honestly asked to be made clean? When has anyone ever been chased out of the confessional because they were unclean? But still there is that gnawing doubt. That’s because we know we aren’t worthy. Our sins make us unclean, they make us unworthy. Even those people who have so lied to themselves for years and years know, someplace deep down inside, that their lies don’t cover up or make right the uncleanliness we all carry like a leper’s sores. We ARE unclean. But Jesus ALWAYS reached out and touched the grieving, the dishonest, the violent, the prostitute, the demon possessed, the … Leper. The unclean. So we should consider that a settled matter. We should know that the gnawing doubt is now just an echo of the burden of sin, our own personal leprosy, that Jesus was and is more than willing to touch and heal. Now, after having been healed, our next step is a simple one. We follower the Healer.

How do I follow Jesus? I imitate Him. Do what He did, live as He lived, love as He loved. But how do I know if I’m REALLY doing that and not just kidding myself? Simple. I just answer, honestly and to myself, one question. The last time I saw a leper, did I reach out?

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Published in: on May 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm  Comments Off on The Leper  
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