It was just a small patch of flaky, dry skin… nothing to worry about. Located on the inside of his left wrist, it was easy to conceal. He hid it, even from his young wife.
He wasn’t a prophet, but he had a premonition… a suspicion… a nagging knot in the pit of his stomach. “What if it doesn’t go away? What if it’s a skin disease? What if it’s leprosy?”
It didn’t go away. It didn’t get better. It got worse.
When his wife noticed, they agreed to deny it, to hide it, to hope it would vanish. They worried and wept. When someone in the marketplace noticed, they began to hear whispers. When they saw their neighbors talk in hushed tones, they assumed that they were the topic of discussion.
Finally, the realization set in… “Leprosy! I’ve got leprosy! My life, as I’ve known it, is over. I’m unclean! I’d rather be dead.” He knew the ramifications of this admission. He’d be denied access to the synagogue and temple. He’d be dismissed by his employer… fired! He’d be excommunicated from society. He’d never caress his wife’s face again. He’d never hold his children. He’d die alone in a leper colony, a societal castoff, shunned by all.
Through sobbing tears, he said goodbye to his wife, his children, his parents. They’d see each other only from a distance. They’d be forever separated.
But God! But grace!
Rumors were flying, spreading like wildfire. Jesus, the intenerate Rabbi, the Master of Creation, the Healer and Restorer, was in the neighborhood. He’d healed others… He could do it again!
The disease had progressed. Open sores covered his body. He was “full of leprosy” (Luke 5:12, NKJV). Gangrene had cost him fingers and toes. He’s lost vision in his left eye. To hide the disgusting sight, his face was covered with a ratty, old scarf. He hobbled painfully as he walked, moving into the public road… forbidden territory for a leper. The “man with leprosycame to (Jesus) and, on his knees, begged him, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean’ ” (Mark 1:40).
Hungry and weak, his shoulders quivered, his knees knocked, and his hands shook. The Leper begged, acknowledging the Messiah’s power to restore him to perfect health. “Oh, please. I beg of You! You could! You have the power! Please! Will You? Please!”
Kindness and concern were written on Jesus’ countenance. With no hesitation, Jesus did the unthinkable. He approached the kneeing man, reached down, and placed His hand upon his filthy shoulder. “I am willing; be made clean”(Matthew 8:3). The healing was complete and “immediate”(Matthew 8:3, Mark 1:42, Luke 5:13). In the blink of an eyehis skin turned soft and pink, sores vanished, sight returned, and fingers and toes reappeared. When Jesus touched him, he was healed, born again (John 3:3), made new (2 Corinthians 5:17), immediately and completely.
The story of the Leper is one of my favorites because I was clothed in “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). My sin separated me from God and from all that is good. I’m the leper!
But God! But grace!