Summary: God has a dream, that there are no barriers between us and others.
Have you ever felt excluded?
Have you ever felt unnecessarily confined or restricted?
Have you ever found it difficult to fit into a group or to be accepted, or felt isolated?
Maybe it was because you haven’t lived in an area long enough, have enough money, from the right family, you have or haven’t completed a university degree etc.
If so then you would have a glimpse of what life would have been for the ten lepers before they were healed by Jesus….
A life restricted by barriers
Being a leper meant they were ostracized
In the Old Testament book Leviticus there is an entire section of how to deal with those who have leprosy
Listen to a few of these verses
From Leviticus 13 42 to 46
if someone has a reddish-white sore on their bald head or forehead, it is an infectious disease breaking out on their head or forehead. 43 The priest is to examine them, and if the swollen sore on their head or forehead is reddish-white like an infectious skin disease, 44 the person is diseased and is unclean. The priest shall pronounce them unclean because of the sore on their head.
(but wait there is more)
45 “The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ (How would you feel walking down the street saying that?) 46 As long as they have the infection they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.
Imagine living like that cut off from your family and friends
Now these measures were put in place for a good reason
It was a away for the community to be protected from diseases
Much like people are told to stay home from work or school if they have the flu, so others don’t get sick
So the barrier that was in place was necessary
However it was also devastating for those who had been inflicted with the disease
Anyone with leprosy would be cut off from associating with their family or friends
And this is not healthy
Because as humans God has created us to live in relationship with each other.
Remember in Genesis, God says it is not good for man to be alone
and as we heard in the Jesus all about life course this week
As people we need to be in relationship with others
In Australia the early prison authorities knew this
To control and break the really bad prisoners
They developed a solitary confinement gaol at Port Arthur,
Where prisoners could have no contact with anyone else
they were kept in a dark cell
and even the prison guards wore cloth on their feet when they were on duty so they could not be heard
Even in chapel, they were lead into chapel with bags over their heads and led into their cubical where they could see no one else but the pastor/priest.
This lack of interaction with other people, broke most people and even sent a few people crazy
So being cut off from your family and friends, like a leper is not healthy
However one of the saddest things about humanity is that we want to construct and reinforce barriers and obstacles between us and others
Look in the media, how many of the stories are about constructing or reinforcing barriers
Can you think of any barriers you have created or reinforced between yourself and:
A family member
Another person in the community
A particular group of people
Now we probably think we can justify every barrier that exists
However there are two things I would like you to think about in regards to the barriers that you have between yourself and others?
First of all:
Is this the way of God?
Is this what God wants?
this is something we will explore a little further today
Secondly, I would like you to consider that your dealings with a person or an issue where a barrier exists
Ask yourself is there another way, apart from constructing or reinforcing barriers?
Whilst the Old Testament reveals a way for humans to deal with leprosy,
That is to isolate them and leave them to their own devices until they are healed
Such an approach offers little hope.
However in the New Testament a new approach is unveiled
Jesus does not ignore the problem and say everything will be ok
Jesus, doesn’t say to lepers, hey just go back into the community everything will be ok.
No he recognises their is a problem
In healing the lepers, Jesus shows his respect that leprosy is a problem
But he deals with it
And in dealing with it,
he removes the barriers for the entire ten lepers that exist for them in being part of the community