The Word This Week

Matt 8:1…

The Bible says faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb 11:1)

Imagine yourself mired in leprosy. In the Bible leprosy is a type of sin. The reason is because of the steady progression of the disease, once contracted. There is no hope for a leper. The disease then as now is incurable. (Today, renamed Hansen’s disease, leprosy is treatable, but remains incurable.)

Leprosy separated any person who contracted it from the population because it was so communicable. A leper would have to cry out, “Leper!” when any person approached, to give them fair warning so they may steer completely clear of the leper as they approached. Lepers had to live in separate colonies outside the town or village and were to have no contact with the general population, including their families. Once contracted, the leper had experienced their last hug, their last handshake, their last kiss.

And as the disease progressed all feeling in the extremities would be lost, and the sense of pain which normally protects our fingers and toes would no longer be present because of nerve damage. To make matters worse, leprosy caused running sores all over the body which emitted a foul rotting odor which was insufferable. If crying out, “Leper!” did not separate others from the leper, the odor would. It is a horrific disease, and it is clear why it typifies the effect of sin upon anyone.

Jesus, coming down from the mountain, is encountered by a leper.

You can almost feel the crowd drawing back and separating themselves from both Jesus and the leper. Instead of crying out, “Leper!” the man cries out, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Amazingly, to this crowd that just heard Jesus speak the Sermon on the Mount, instead of drawing back, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. This would have been the first human contact this man had felt since he contracted the disease. It was a tremendous act of faith on this leper’s part to even think of approaching Jesus in this way. An affront to all societal norms.

Jesus simply said, “I am willing. Be cleansed.” The same is true for every man.

Pastor Bill