One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the account of the Leper (Mark 1:40-45). Why? Because I’m the Leper, or at least, I’m similar.
Leprosy was a nasty disease that, in the early stages, looked innocent enough. A small spot. A few blisters or a patch of scaley skin. At first you could hide it. Nobody would know. It was your little secret. Just a tiny sore. But what started small soon began to spread. To keep others from noticing, you wore long sleeves or a cap. You kept your hands in your pockets. You avoided nosey neighbors.
Powerless to fight against it, and incapable of hiding the obvious symptoms, the leper was excommunicated, divorced, expelled, quarantined. Because of that dreaded disease, the leper lost everything and was cut-off from everyone. In time, what was once just on the surface, began to eat away at the flesh, the muscle, the bone. Infection. Festering sores. Gangrene. And eventually, a miserable death. Alone.
Luke said the man “had leprosy all over him” (Luke 5:12). His case was advancing. Surely, he was losing hope. Maybe, by this point, he prayed for the possibility of a merciful and quick death.
That’s when he heard about Jesus. The itinerate rabbi had performed amazing miracles in nearby towns and villages, and it was rumored that He would soon be coming near.
The Leper knew the rules. The Law clearly said, “The person who has a case of serious skin disease is to ... cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ ... He must live alone in a place outside the camp” (Leviticus 13:45–46).
He knew he wasn’t supposed to be found in public. It would be illegal to approach Jesus, but there was no other hope. So, as Jesus and his entourage paraded by, the Leper “came to him and, on his knees, begged him, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean’ ” (Mark 1:40).
There were probably those in Jesus’ party who jumped back and shrieked, “That dude has leprosy! Stay away! Don’t let him touch you.” Jesus didn’t pull back but stepped closer. “Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ he told him. ‘Be made clean’ ” (Mark 1:41).
Amazingly, astonishingly, unbelievably, the leprosy was gone. At the very moment that Jesus’ fingertips touched his dirty and diseased skin, there was a complete transformation. Death was defeated and life sprang up. He was made new! His ash-heap of an existence was born anew and made beautiful.
That’s my story. Sin, like leprosy, was killing me. I was hopeless and helpless. Everything was in ruin. Then, by a miracle of God’s redeeming grace, my life was made new. My death-sentence was commuted. By the compassionate touch of Jesus, I was set free.
Is that your story? By grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone, has your leprous life been gloriously remade?
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.