Saturday, June 13, 2009


While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. (Luke 5:12, 13)

I have often thought about this passage and I have preached on it a number of times. Obviously, it impresses me deeply. I am impressed with the faith of the leper. Instead of moving away from Jesus while crying out, “Unclean! Unclean!” as the law required, he approached Jesus. He could have been stoned to death for this breach of the law. What faith it must have taken for him to come and fall on his face at Jesus’ feet! Of course, desperation can produce very courageous acts of faith. Perhaps that is what is so missing in our society today…desperation. So few people whom I meet are even aware that they have a need! Desperate? No! The people who respond to the gospel are those who know they are in need and the more they are in touch with the greatness of their need, the more faith they demonstrate!

There are many instances of such faith in the gospels. What really strikes me here is Jesus’ actions. Of course, touching a leper rendered a person unclean. It was against the traditions of the elders to touch a leper. Jesus reaches out and touches this man with love and compassion. But there is more to it. The leper is lying prostrate at the feet of Jesus. Jesus wouldn’t be able to just reach out his hand and touch him. Jesus would have had to stoop down to the ground to touch this poor man! What a picture! The Son of God stooping to touch the unclean! Doesn’t this ring a bell in your mind? Isn’t this the very thing Jesus did for all of us? Didn’t he leave behind the glories of heaven and humble himself to become a man and the servant of men? Didn’t he stoop to reach down and touch us with his love, grace, and mercy? And wasn’t his power great enough to drive the sin and death from our souls?

I am supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus. So are all who are his followers! Will we learn from this the importance of being willing to stoop to touch those who are suffering all around us? This is what is lacking in our proclamation of the gospel; the willingness to stoop and identify with the downtrodden and suffering! And we don’t have nearly as far to stoop as Jesus did!


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