Summary: With every pound of the nail, the leprosy of our sins disappeared. With every drop of his blood our spirits became whiter and cleaner and brighter. When He walked away from the empty tomb we were spiritually new creations with hearts and souls as pure and clean as the day that we were born, amen?
Hello … my name is Joram. I was born and raised in the sleepy little Samaritan town of Shiloh. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised. It’s about a 100 miles south of nowhere. The only people who know about Shiloh are the people like me who live there or the occasional stranger who is lost or just passing through.
I’ll never forget that night as long as I live. My wife and I had finally gotten the children to fall asleep and we were getting ready to go to bed ourselves when my wife asked me a question that would change my life forever: “Honey … what’s this on your back?”
It was a mole … surrounded by a patch of dry skin. I asked my wife to describe it to me … and then there was that deafening silence as she hesitated … and my stomach sank all the way to the floor.
“Honey? What does it look like?” Weakly … with a tremor of fear in her voice … she said: “You better go see the priest in the morning.”
Of course, I didn’t go but my wife kept asking and insisting that I go see the priest. One night she started crying and begged me to go see the priest. I didn’t want to admit it but I kept putting it off because I was terrified of what the priest would say. Typical guy, right?
And then I found another mole … just like the one on my back …. only this time it was on the back of my hand where I could see it … and I didn’t like what I saw … and then a few days later a dry patch showed up on my neck.
And so … with dread in my heart … I kissed my wife and my two boys good-bye in the morning and went to see the priest … and he confirmed my worse fear … LEPROSY! … a word that melted my heart like wax and turned my mouth to ash. “I’m sorry,” the priest said, “but you’ll have to move … you can come back if and when God decides to take this curse away from you.”
He just threw that out there like it was nothing. Move?! Move where? Just like that! I’m told that I’ve got leprosy and now I’ve got to move … leave everyone I love … leave the town I grew up in. What’s going to happen to my wife? My two boys? My elderly parents who live with us? What was going to happen to all of them after I “move”?
The thought of it tore my heart out. I had lived in that same house all my life … as did my father and his father before him. I worked the same fields that had been in my family for generations. I drank from the same well every day. I knew every street and every house in Shiloh and who lived in them. I celebrated wedding, funerals, births, and bar mitzvahs with them and they with me.
And now … now I was going to have to leave town and never see any of them again. I just couldn’t fathom it. Why was God so mad at me? Why was He smashing my whole world into tiny little pieces … taking away everyone and everything that was so dear to me? What could I have possible done to make God so angry with me? I’m not perfect … Lord knows … but the Lord also knows my heart. I tried to keep the law … prayed every day … especially the “Shema.” I kept all the holy days. I obeyed my parents growing up and was taking care of them in their old age … was never unfaithful to my wife … was bringing my boys up in the ways of the Lord … never harmed or cheated anyone … was always ready to help a friend or a neighbor in need. I was a good, descent, obedient, God-fearing Samaritan. It just didn’t make any sense.
And then the temple guards showed up. They let me pack a few things … kiss and hug my wife and children and parents good-bye … and then escorted me out of town. We walked for three days until we arrived at a clump of dilapidated houses and tents that could be called a “village” … if you stretched the definition of a village as far as it would go.
It was a God-forsaken place for God-forsaken people right on the border between Samaria and Judah. And now this God-forsaken leper colony was my new home and these God-forsaken lepers were now my friends and neighbors.
I was given a hut to live in … literally four walls and a roof. It reminded me of the stable attached to my house back in Shiloh … only the stable back in Shiloh was a little bigger and smelled of animals. This place smelled of death. I got it because the former resident, Micah, had passed away a few days earlier.