Summary: Jesus is willing to make clean those who come to him in faith, and who lay their burdens down.
Will and Faith
A missionary in Africa experienced great difficulty in trying to translate the Gospel of John into a local dialect. He faced the problem of finding a word for ‘believe’. He continued to try, but he always had to leave a blank space when he came to that particular word.
Then one day a runner came panting into the camp, having traveled a great distance with a very important message. He quickly blurted out his message, and then fell completed exhausted into a nearby hammock. Once in the hammock, the runner muttered a brief phrase that seemed to express both his great weariness and his contentment at finding a place to finally rest his weary body.
The missionary had never heard these words before, and so he asked one of his helpers to explain what the runner had said. He was told that the runner had said: “I am at the end of myself. Therefore, I am resting all of my weight here!”
The missionary shouted out; “Praise God! That is the perfect expression I need to explain the word ‘believe!” And so when translated the scriptures whenever he would come upon the word ‘believe’, he would put this phrase in: “I am at the end of myself. Therefore, I am resting all of my weight here!”
Have you come to the end of yourself? Are you resting all of your weight upon the precious Lamb of God? Or are you still trying to do in the flesh what can only be accomplished by the Spirit of God?
George Muller, that great man of prayer who started many orphanages in England during the 19th century wrote this:
“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that whish is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.”
It is when we come to the end of ourselves that we really find God. Let’s look at a couple examples from the ministry of Jesus: a leper, a centurion, and a worn-out woman!
Show video segment from Matthew 8:1-17
Remember the definition of faith given by the writer of Hebrews.
What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.
So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Jesus is always willing to reward faith.
Let’s take a closer look at the encounters Jesus had with these men and women of faith.
1. Jesus is willing to make us clean!
Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached Jesus. He knelt before him, worshiping. "Lord," the man said, "if you want to, you can make me well again."
Jesus touched him. "I want to," he said. "Be healed!" And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, "Go right over to the priest and let him examine you. Don’t talk to anyone along the way. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy, so everyone will have proof of your healing."
I think is it important that we remember who wrote this Gospel. It was written by Matthew, a Jew and also a tax-collector. As a Jew, Matthew would have had very strong feeling about both lepers, and as we shall see in the next story, Roman soldiers. To a Jewish person, a leper was a great sinner. God only punished people because of their sin, and there was no punishment greater than the punishment of leprosy.
But as a tax collector, Matthew would have understood the feelings of being left as an outcast of society. He would have felt the sting of rejection and the looks of disgust given by people who didn’t understand.
Leprosy was an awful disease, and a physical picture of the spiritual disease of sin in our lives. One missionary in Africa described leprosy in this way:
“The word ‘leper’ means ‘to peal’. It appears in the beginning as reddish white sores or spots that begin to pop up all over the body. These sores fester and spread. Especially in the hands and feet the skin begins to wither and crack in many places. The ends of the fingers swell and ulcerate; the discharge is acrid and fetid; the nails drop off, and the bones of the fingers start to separate at the joints. As the disease continues to spread the leper may lose all of their fingers and toes and sometimes even their hands and feet. Much like sin itself, leprosy may be secretly destroying the body for years, hidden away, but eventually the disease becomes visible and its destructive powers known.”