Christ encountered a Leper in this passage of scripture. Think with me about what it must have been to have the blight of leprosy in that day and age.
One day this man is in the field working and he looks down and notices a white spot on his forearm. He thinks that it’s just how the sun light is hitting his arm, so he ignores the spot and keeps working. Later, that night, he remembers the spot and thinks about asking his wife to take a look at it. But not wanting to worry her, he decides to look for himself. He takes a walk and examines himself under the moonlight. He is alarmed as he discovers not only the spot on his forearm but several other small spots as well. His first reaction is denial; he tries to push the thought of leprosy from his mind but it keeps crowding its way in. Thinking of his wife and family, he quickly comes to a conclusion; no matter what, he will not wait, he could risk infecting his family! He runs home, and with tears clouding his eyes, he tells his wife what he fears may be happening. He sleeps away from his family that night– forced to leave his wife crying (unable to console her with a hug). Next morning he rushes to the priest to be examined; the priest gives him the dreaded judgment as he pronounces him, UNCLEAN! Not wanting to give his family the news, he spends the day in a field, alone, crying out in pain to God. That evening he faces his fears and walks slowly home. His wife meets him at the door, a look of hope in her eyes. The Leper explains that she should keep her distance, that he is only home long enough to pack, and then he will have to leave. Tears flood his eyes, as this proud Jewish man tries to keep them from flowing freely. He packs his things, silently peeks in on his children for the last time (he longs to hug and kiss them), walks to the front door and quietly, shamefully, tells his wife that he loves her but he has to leave. He turns and begins to walk away. He turns off of the path in front of their home onto the road and hears his wife’s running footsteps behind him. She closes the distance and clings to his back weeping, she turns him around, and tells him that she would rather die than loose him. He feels guilty over (and yet savors) his wife’s final embrace, tells her that it is because of his love for her and the children that he must go.
Endeavor with me to put yourself in this man’s shoes. Imagine being that man! Imagine knowing that your children will wake up the next morning fatherless. Imagine walking to your new home, a leper colony, a place that could make horror movies pale in comparison. Imagine realizing that your problem is irreversible. Imagine feeling defiled. Imagine the isolation. Imagine the knowledge of pending doom as each day you notice the spread of the disease that now plagues your body. Imagine the fear of transmitting that horrible disease to someone you love–combined with the overwhelming desire to touch and be touched by your family once more.
Is it any wonder that Jesus was moved with compassion? Think with me, though: are all men not plagued with a problem deeper than the skin, a problem that is irreversible through their own merit, a problem that defiles, isolates, spreads, and transmits? I speak of the disease called sin. Jesus looked on this man with compassion more for the second disease than for the first.
Notice the Leper’s approach. “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” His concern was understandable but, oh, so unnecessary! The Leper knew that Jesus could heal him he was just unsure if Jesus would heal him. He was not accustomed to receiving compassion from others. Perhaps even his children had begun to avoid acknowledging him in the streets as they became embittered over their absentee Dad and tired of being mocked by their peers. Yet, from our knowledge of Christ, the Leper’s wonder (will Christ care) seems ridiculous. We shout, as we look down at the page: YES JESUS CARES! However, many today make the same mistake. Many of us have wandered down the same ridiculous path. Many say, yes Jesus saves, yes Jesus cares, but you don’t know how bad I am, surely He won’t save me. Those of us that have been redeemed ought to shout with our lives as well as our lips: YES JESUS CARES, YES HE WILL SAVE YOU!
Think of what it must have meant for this Leper to return healed, cleansed, and complete to his family. What must it have been to run home to his wife’s confused but gleeful embrace? How joyous must it have been to lift his children into his arms, not one at a time but all in one big pile, showered by their kisses? Better yet, think of having the burden of sin lifted–think of becoming the friend of Jesus. Hopefully you don’t have to wonder, hopefully you can understand what it means to be healed of a disease that’s deeper than the skin!