Devotional: March 8, 2021
Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and dropped to his knees before Jesus, praying, “Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.”
Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be clean.”
Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone.
Matthew 8: 1-3 The Message
Do we matter to God? Do we matter even when other people say we don’t? This passage answers that question: yes!
Jesus is returning from ministry to thousands up on the mountain. There, they had clamored to hear His every word. He is probably physically exhausted, yet He shy away from interaction. He has not become prideful, as some others might have done in his shoes. Instead, He hears the cries of the people, and knows what is in their hearts.
Suddenly, a leper appears in front of Jesus and drops to his knees. This poor man’s disease rendered him “untouchable” according Jewish ritualistic cleansing practices. Yet he is desperate. He offers the teacher a statement, which masks his real question. The statement is “Master, I know you can heal me, if you want to do so.”
Yet the question underneath the statement is, “Jesus, do you want to heal a leper like me?” He is not sure of the answer. He had been an outcast for so many years that he was most likely used to rejection. So many people had probably fled from him, because of his dreaded condition, that he was not sure how even Jesus would react. Therefore, he offers his statement/question with hope in his heart.
I am reminded of a story about Princes Diana in the 1980’s when the AIDS epidemic still had so many unknowns. She was visiting a children’s hospital full of children who had innocently contracted the dreaded disease. For some reason, she felt compelled to hug one of the children. With that one action, she lifted an “untouchable” curtain that had been placed around those children. I want to believe it was, at least in part, an act of faith.
Jesus responds to the leper’s question with a strong affirmative answer: “Yes, I want to heal you.” Yet rather than offering just words, Jesus offers the man the gift of touch. How long had it been since this leper had experienced the touch of a caring human hand? Most likely years. In 2020, so many of us have realized how crucial the touch of another human being can be, through the absence of touch due to the pandemic.
Jesus chose to say healing words. Then, He offers His healing touch. The leper now finds himself healed of his disease.
In spite of what the world sometimes tells us, God is not the author of disease. Jesus cares about every single one of us, even those whom the world says are off limits, or unworthy of Him. Jesus can heal. He can heal our hearts, our relationships, and other things that so often burden us in this world. With that healing, Jesus will also forgive us when we kneel before Him. All we need to do is admit the sin in our lives which needs to be healed. Not only is Jesus capable of healing us, but He is eager to do so. Therefore, turn to Him for healing, without delay, and without reservation.
Holy Father, You are the great physician. Forgive me when I injure others with my words or my actions. Help me to lay before You the things which need to be healed in my life. Guide my actions and my words, so that they show others what Your love, and Your care. I pray this prayer in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ. Amen