Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy
12In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
13Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. 14Then Jesus instructed him not to tell anyone what had happened. He said, “Go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy.c This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
15But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. 16But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
Do you know what leprosy, real leprosy is? Everyone describes leprosy as a disease that causes sores, and in severe cases your appendages to actually fall off. Like so many things in life, that is what it looks like, but that misses the point. It does cause sores but it also causes people to lose their ability to feel pain. As time goes on they lose become careless regarding pain and lose their appendages or otherwise injure themselves through accidents. In Jesus’ time it was horrifying and you were sentenced to a life outside of rest of the population in complete poverty and despair. Now it is curable, but not quickly and where the disease is more common you are still banished to caves and camps till a doctor finds you.
I once read a short interview with a doctor who travels the world seeking and treating lepers. He said if he could do anything instantly for his patients while they are treated, he would give them back the ability to feel pain. This is a big statement as the sores leprosy caused can be very painful. But he would do that so they would regain their desire to care for themselves, and their empathy to others with injuries.
I am fairly confident that there are very few physical lepers reading this blog. I am also confident that most of us shy away from the emotional pains of this life. Perhaps some of us even have become calloused to our pains and the pain of others. I also bet most of us know people who refuse to feel their own heartaches and the heartaches of others. Often times our society still puts these emotional lepers in camps outside our community. Today these camps my look like places of great fun and good times and full of friends, but are they? Or are they places of poor souls hopelessly seeking the next moment of happiness and totally devoid of purpose and fulfillment?
We are called to feel our pain and to feel their pain. We are called to seek the leper, but not become one. We are called to give them hope, and touch them, and let others touch us when we start to lose our own ability to feel pain. Pain is very good thing. Pain is necessary.
Lord, heal me of my leprosy. Give me the courage to feel my own pain, and the pain of others. Give me the courage to go to the leper camps and be a fearless vessel for your healy touch.