In the ancient middle east, the term “leprosy” was used to refer to a whole host of incurable skin ailments. Lepers were pitiful and outcast. They were ceremonially unclean and were not allowed to worship in the Temple.
Because they were thought to be contagious, they were required to be isolated from others. If they encountered another person on the road they were required to stand at a far distance and cry out “Unclean, unclean!” They were untouched and frequently unloved.
Lepers back then were also judged by many who thought them to be harboring some secret sin, bringing God’s judgment upon them. But our scripture passage below we read about a leper who had a hope. Why? Because he saw Jesus passing by.
Ignoring the social distancing rules of his day he fell to the ground before Jesus and begged Him, “If you are willing, you can make me clean!” Notice the leper did not doubt Jesus’ power to heal him, but doubted Jesus’ willingness to heal him. But, not only did Jesus heal the man, he reached out and touched him as He said “Be clean.” The leper was healed, and the fame of Jesus could not be contained.
As you read about this event in the Bible in the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, realize that we are all infected with the fatal disease of sin. We are hopeless and lost and we do not have the strength or wisdom to heal or cleanse ourselves.
So, like the leper so long ago, we must present ourselves and our needs to Jesus and say “If you will you can make me clean.” And if you do so, Jesus will stoop down, touch you and say, “I am willing…be clean.”
(Luke 5:12-15) 12 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.” 13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
14 Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.