Jesus actually touched the leper. In a world where lepers were better off dead and treated on the same level as the demon possessed; Jesus did the unthinkable. As a Rabbi (Religious teacher), Jewish law said He had more of a responsibility to present Himself as clean. Leprosy was the complete opposite of clean.
I can only imagine the scene. The leper walking on the outskirts of the city shouting, “Unclean! Unclean! Unclean!” every so often. Mid-mantra the ostrocized and forgotten man spots the Rabbi of all Rabbis. It had been said this Rabbi did miracles; restoring lives and healing the sick… What if? What if this Man could restore the years the disease had stolen?
Mark 1:40-41 says the leper “…came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him…” What had to be going through the mind of this poor man as he humbled himself even further to ask a question he didn’t know the answer to? Would Jesus be afraid of him? Would Jesus be repulsed by him? Did Jesus even care?
Was Jesus just another teacher that had the authority to reject him?
I’m fairly certain the leper didn’t have even the slightest inkling this well-known, powerful, God-filled Man would touch him. That’d be too risky, right? But that’s exactly what Jesus did. He touched the man first and dealt with the disease second.
Too often as Christians, in this world of instant gratification, we forget that we are called to touch those who aren’t as clean as we would like them to be. Whether the person needs healing, rehabilitation, a home or just simply a bath… we’ve gotten really good at expecting God to work through us but not require us to do anything.
Healing? Well, um God, it’s AIDS. The woman needs a hug, she needs hope; but… it’s AIDS. I’ll just pray instead.
Rehabilitation? Well, Lord… it’s too dangerous, how could you use me, anyway? I can’t reach him. I’ll just hope he hits rock bottom before its too late.
The homeless? … They probably did it to themselves, Lord. Giving them anything would be enabling them, right?
…. It takes wisdom. Love takes Action.
*Inspired by Jim Cymbala’s book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire