Summary: What responsibility do we bear to our world as followers of Christ?

“There were four men who were lepers at the entrance to the gate. And they said to one another, ‘Why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, “Let us enter the city,” the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die.’ So they arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians. But when they came to the edge of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no one there. For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, ‘Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us.’ So they fled away in the twilight and abandoned their tents, their horses, and their donkeys, leaving the camp as it was, and fled for their lives. And when these lepers came to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent and ate and drank, and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and went and hid them. Then they came back and entered another tent and carried off things from it and went and hid them.

“Then they said to one another, ‘We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.’ So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city and told them, ‘We came to the camp of the Syrians, and behold, there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied and the donkeys tied and the tents as they were.’ Then the gatekeepers called out, and it was told within the king’s household.” [1]

The story we see recorded in the text before us is a parable for redeemed people. The story in brief tells of men under sentence of death who are relieved from the immediate danger that looms before them. And the relief given to these men was not some minor happenstance; what they experienced was not inconsequential, not transient, not meaningless! These men are blessed in the extreme through an event over which they had no control. The blessing they received delivered them from the immediate death they were facing! They were unexpectedly and suddenly awash with an embarrassment of good fortune! In the midst of their stunned celebration, the men were suddenly stopped by the realisation of their personal accountability.

Sensing the responsibility that their good fortune imposes, they begin to speak among themselves. “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us.” In effect, these four men, though they have been despised and cast out by their fellow members of the city, know that they are responsible to bless others when they themselves are blessed. They don’t need a lesson in ethics to realise that if they are spared and blessed, they must tell others so that they can share in the blessing. There are lessons that we know to be true revealed in the story, and we must apply these lessons to our own lives.

GOOD FORTUNE FOR DESPERATE MEN — We are introduced to some desperate men. Few of us could ever imagine the miserable existence that would describe the life of a leper during the days in which the Bible was written. Leprosy was seen as a curse from God. If one was found with leprosy, they were driven from all society. Lepers bore the mark of God’s divine curse on their bodies, and they could never again come near people. Never again would the leper be permitted to come near enough to enjoy an intimate conversation with family or friends. Never again could a leper enjoy a meal with anyone. The leper would be shunned, not even permitted to drink water from the same well as others. And especially disheartening was the fact that the leper would be driven from worship, never permitted to enter into the sacred precincts of the Temple.

Of course, things changed with the coming of the Son of God. Throughout the Gospel accounts, we read not only that lepers drew near to Jesus, but He touched them! For example, Levi relates an instance when Jesus healed a leper. He informs readers, “When [Jesus] came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’ And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed” [MATTHEW 8:1-3].

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