Summary: “A man with leprosy came to Him and begged Him on his knees, ‘if you are willing, you can make me clean’. Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ He said. Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he w
Theme: Jesus a friend of outcasts
Leprosy was and is a horrible and dreaded disease although today it can be cured. Many of us live near the Weija Leprosarium and are not even prepared to go anywhere near the place although many of the people there have been cured of leprosy. A few years ago water to the place was disconnected and many of them with what could no longer be referred to as hands had to walk long distances to fetch water. Very few people showed compassion and concern about their plight. In our contemporary society, we not only have lepers, but other people who are also treated as lepers. We have those suffering from AIDS and cancer, the mentally and physically handicapped, and many others who are alone and forgotten. It’s not just the physical suffering; it’s the isolation, the loneliness, the feeling that nobody wants to be around them. As the body of Christ, we need to be a people of compassion as leprosy is a picture of sin and its consequences. The clothes of the leper are torn just as sin tears our garments of righteousness. Sin has so defiled us that we can no longer know God as He really is. In his book, ‘the knowledge of the Holy’ A. W. Tozer wrote that what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. Do we think about His love and compassion? Do we see Christ as He really is? Do we believe that in Christ God has revealed Himself to man, that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form? Do we believe that the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His Being, sustaining all things by His powerful word? Jesus a friend of outcasts demonstrates His love and compassion towards sinful men and women by paying the penalty for sin.
Leprosy was the most dreaded disease in ancient Palestine. This terrible condition slowly consumed the flesh of its victims. Eventually the fingers, toes and other extremities would die, rot and fall off. Compounding the agony of the disfiguring disease were the social stigmas attached to it. The leper lost his identity, lost his dignity and was condemned to live isolated outside the community. He was banished from society and exiled from home. A leper had the responsible to prevent others from coming too close, and was required to cry ‘unclean, unclean’ wherever he went. Leprosy does not only cause a great deal of physical distress, but more importantly it makes a person unclean, separating him or her from God and from God’s people.
Leprosy has long been an illustration of sin’s wasting effects in a person’s life. It begins with little specks on the eyelids and on the palms of the hand. Then it spreads over the body. Penetrating the skin it destroys the nerve cells and the victim gradually loses all sense of touch and pain, initially in the fingers and toes, then spreading up the arms and legs. Without the sense of touch, a person with leprosy eventually damages his toes, fingers, and feet. He will hit objects, cut himself, get infections and not even notice. In one leper colony it was observed that many of the lepers were loosing their fingers and toes during the night. When someone finally stayed up all night to watch and see what happened, they found that rats were chewing off their fingers and toes at night. The victims, however, did not wake up, because they didn’t feel anything. As leprosy advances, a leper even looses the human look. He is completely helpless and becomes literally a walking dead person. Naaman was such a person. He was rich in many ways. He had power as commander of the army of the king of Aram. He had a reputation and a great name because of his many victories in battle. He had the courage and confidence of a valiant and expert soldier. Naaman had all this, yet he was the most pathetic man alive, for he also had leprosy that had no cure. Naaman, however, found true wealth through the gospel, through sound spiritual encouragement, and through humility. The gospel or Good News for him was that the man of God could heal his disease. His servant gave him some much-needed spiritual encouragement when out of pride he was about to leave without being cleansed. In humility, Naaman dipped in the muddy river Jordan seven times, and came out healed. Today there are many people like Naaman. They may have a decent job, a decent family, friends, and money in the bank. But they are infected with sin. They may seem to have it all together but spiritually they are rotting away. Leprosy is a picture or type of sin, which portrays the consuming, horrible effect of sin on a person’s life. Like leprosy sins of the flesh often start as small unnoticeable specks. They slowly spread consuming more and more of our minds. Eventually it has a numbing effect on our conscience and we no longer feel any pain when we do wrong. Leprosy like sin, will steal our life, destroy us and eventually kill us. Like the leper we can also come to Jesus for cleansing. We can go to the throne of Christ, every day, any hour of the day, and ask him to cleanse us of our sin, and he will. “I am willing,” Jesus says.