Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC
While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “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 the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
This past week my wife and I were in a local restaurant that we love, and when I sat down I noticed on the napkin container a public service flyer about Covid-19. The flyer had some basic instructions on it about wearing a mask and symptoms to recognize if you were to possibly have the disease. On the bottom of the flyer it had a line that I haven’t seen on any other promotional information of late. At the bottom it added, “Make sure to maintain your distance from those who are sick.” This got me to thinking, what if we all maintained our distance from those who are sick? Then nobody would be cared for, and that would be a great travesty. Somebody has to care for those who are sick and hurting. Thank God for those who are willing to do just that.
If you know anything about leprosy from the Bible you know how devastating the disease was. The disease was a highly contagious skin disease, and anyone who had it was shunned and sent outside the city to live totally quarantined with other lepers. There’s an entire chapter in Leviticus on how to deal with those who have leprosy and what to do if you have it personally. Lepers were considered ceremonially unclean and therefore not allowed to worship or bring sacrifices to the Temple. They were shunned from society and religion; they were outcasts. They were completely and utterly alone, destined for a life devoid of love and compassion.
In stepped Jesus. In Luke 5 our Lord is in a city preparing to minister to the masses when up walks a leper. You can just hear the simultaneous gasps of the people in the crowd. What is he doing here? Doesn’t he know lepers are supposed to be outside the city? What is Jesus going to do with this guy? About that time this broken, despondent, sick man falls to his knees and cries, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” See, no one had been willing to do anything for him up to this point, so he turned to his last resort. Maybe this Jesus that everyone is talking about will show me compassion.
Then Jesus did the unthinkable. He reached out his hand and touched the leper. This put Jesus’s physical health at risk and made him ceremonially unclean. He could have just as easily spoken the word and the man would have been healed…but the man needed more than physical healing. He needed the loving touch of the Savior. He needed to know that no matter what the world told him the Lord felt compassion for him and wanted to shower him in everlasting love.
Sadly, throughout my years of ministry I have seen many church goers who have the same mentality as that promotional flyer. It is their goal to maintain as much distance from those who are spiritually sick as possible. The only problem with that is it’s the antithesis of the gospel. Jesus said in verse 32 of this same chapter, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Child of God, do you have Covid-19 Christianity? Is it your aim to maintain as much distance as you can from those who are sick, or are you going to live like Jesus? The gospel teaches us to leave the comfort of our holy huddles and extend a loving hand to those who are outside the faith. I am forever grateful that the Lord reached down and touched this leper and healed me of that dreaded disease called sin. Today, as the old hymn says, let’s rescue the perishing. Let’s care for the dying. Jesus is merciful. Jesus will save.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Oh Jesus, You came to heal those who are sick with sin. I thank You for loving me and for healing me forever with Your precious blood. Arm me with the same purpose, to touch this world with your love and grace. You did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance, so Lord help me to pursue those that don’t know You as well. In Jesus name I pray, amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”