40 A leper walked right up to Jesus, dropped to his knees, and begged Him for help.
Leper: If You want to, You can make me clean.
41 Jesus was powerfully moved. He reached out and actually touched the leper.
Jesus: I do want to. Be clean.
42 And at that very moment, the disease left him; the leper was cleansed and made whole once again.
Mark 1:40-42 The Voice Bible
I have always loved this passage and came across it recently in my daily reading. As we all know lepers were outcast, considered unclean. They were required to cross to the other side of the road and to shout out “Unclean!” as they passed others. Lepers were yet another group of people who have been misunderstood, mistreated, and considered “less than.”
But the leper in this reading crosses those social boundaries. He is desperate for help and he will do whatever it takes to get to Jesus. Others might have been looking on aghast at the leper’s inappropriate behavior. He drops to his knees, humbling himself before this itinerant preacher and makes one of the ultimate statements of faith in the Bible, “If You want to, You can make me clean.” There was no question of Jesus’ ability, only a question of Jesus’ desire, of God’s will.
Jesus reaches out and touches the leper. Consider what that must have felt like to the leper. How long had it been since he had been touched, especially touched with compassion and love? The leper made the first move of faith, walking up to Jesus and begging for help. Jesus took it from there. Jesus went the rest of the way reaching out and touching.
And Jesus’ states clearly and unequivocally God’s will for this unnamed leper—and at the same time for each person throughout time, for you and for me. “I do want to (heal you). Be clean.” Jesus’ desire is for us to be healed, to be cleansed, to be restored to community and relationship, to no longer be outcast. God’s desire is always for us to be made whole.
Today, this week, where do you need healing? Where do you need Jesus’ compassionate, and loving touch? Take that first step, perhaps drop to your knees, literally or in your heart. Simply ask Jesus for his healing. And feel his hand light upon your brow.
Be healed. Be cleansed. Be made whole. Be loved.
By the Jesus who reaches out to you.