In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, we see a leper approach Jesus for healing. First of all, whoa! Since we know Jesus, and this is His usual thing, we might forget just how big of a deal this was in His time. Remember the First Reading for today? “If the man is leprous and unclean,
the priest shall declare him unclean…he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’…He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13:44-46). Lepers were total outcasts, as per the Jewish law, they had to declare themselves wherever they went! For this leper to approach a Rabbi is a big deal. Normally he’d be warded off, but Jesus allowed it. “If you wish, you can make me clean”, he said. Jesus responds, “I do will it, be made clean”.
The leper approaches Jesus with confidence despite his affliction, and with expectancy that Jesus can heal him. And Jesus takes this opportunity to flip the Jewish world-view on its head: He touches the man and heals him. Jesus, what are you doing?! He could have contracted the disease, and he seemingly ignored the law set by Moses! But what a powerful statement to make: this man who is hurt and afflicted should not be ostracized, but embraced. Even physically! Jesus doesn’t disregard the law, as he tells the man to present himself to the priests and pursue the ritual cleansing, so that he might rejoin society.
A few things to mention: I really like the way the leper approaches Jesus. If YOU will it, you can make me clean. I feel like I can connect with this: Sometimes, in my own struggles and failings, I’m not sure that I can be made clean, or I don’t even fully want that for myself. But like this leper, there is power in leaning into what the Lord wants for us; he DOES want us to be healed.
Also, the physical healing of the leprosy is only one component: it’s likely that Jesus also heals this man internally and spiritually (as he did for the lame man who was lowered through the roof by his friends in Luke 5). Jesus’ mission was not just to get souls to heaven, but initiate the full restoration of humanity: body and soul, and to bring us fully into communion with the Holy Trinity.
While there is no direct connection between physical ailments and internal ones (remember the book of Job! He was righteous and yet suffered greatly), it’s helpful for us to imagine “leprosy” on a wider scope. Do we ostracize people in our lives? Whether they suffer from physical disabilities, or from internal and mental struggles, or from addictions or patterns of sin? How can we better embrace them and act as the healing hands of Jesus in their lives? And what about our own life? Sometimes we act as a “leper” before God when we sin or are faced with battles in our life. Will we walk away from Him, and sit outside of His grace? Do we think ourselves unworthy? Or will we boldly and expectantly come before him and say, “Lord if you will it, you can make me clean”?
Songs for Reflection:
O Come to the Altar – Elevation Worship
Healer – Hillsong Worship
Way Maker – Leeland / Bethel Music
Miracles – Chris Quilala / Jesus Culture
To Be Like You – Hillsong Worship
There’s Nothing that our God Can’t Do – Kristian Stanfill / Passion
Brendan is just your average Millennial hipster: He likes playing guitar, throwing frisbees, sipping whiskey, and grooming his beard. But he also has a passion for walking with teens and young Christ-followers, hearing every person’s story, and waking up the Church. Brendan works at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Lenexa, Kansas (near Kansas City) as a Youth Music Minister, fusing together his two loves of sharing Christ and sharing the power and need for good and beautiful contemporary praise. https://www.instagram.com/brendanbeardo/
Feature Image Credit: Tim Mossholder, https://unsplash.com/photos/epBIrtdg2Hk