by Larry Browning
Luke 5:12-15 – One day while Jesus was in one of the cities, a man covered with leprosy saw Jesus and fell on his face, begging him, “Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.” So Jesus reached out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do want to. Be made clean!” Instantly the leprosy left him. 14Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone. Instead, go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing as Moses commanded as proof to the authorities.” 15But the news about Jesus spread even more, and many crowds began gathering to hear him and to be healed of their diseases.
James 2:12-13 – 12You must make it your habit to speak and act like people who are going to be judged by the law of liberty. (the moral instruction given by Christ, especially about love) 13For merciless judgment will come to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
In Luke 5, this leper said, “Lord, if you are willing, make me clean.” These words are probably full of anguish; yet underneath the pain, there is probably also a faint hope; hope that Jesus would indeed have mercy on him as he was lying at His feet. The man doesn’t directly ask for healing; he asks to be made clean from the leprosy if Jesus was willing.
Like so many other words outside of our experience and our time, the word “leprosy” doesn’t elicit much of a reaction in us today. More than likely, none of us have ever seen it. We know it’s a disease, but we don’t think too much about how disfiguring it is. In 1995, the World Health Organization estimated that between 2 and 3 million people were permanently disabled because of leprosy at that time. In the past 20 years, 15 million people worldwide have been cured of leprosy. There was no cure for leprosy in Jesus’ day. People with leprosy often lost fingers and toes, and even limbs. Their faces became twisted and knotted. But perhaps even worse than this was the humiliation and loneliness. They were forced to leave everyone they loved, and to keep them away by continually shouting out society’s judgement on them and their condition: UNCLEAN! What if that were still done today? What would you be crying out? Prideful! Lier! Judgmental! Bitter! You fill in the blank.