12 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.” 13 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him.
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, compassion, and community.
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. Then Jesus did the unthinkable. He reached out his hand and touched him. This immediately put Jesus’s physical health at risk and made him ceremonially unclean. Why would Jesus do that? He could have just as easily spoken the word and the man would have been healed; however Jesus knew 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 as 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, is it your aim to maintain as much distance as you can from those who are sick and broken, 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.