For a few days I studied Luke 5:12-16. It’s the passage where Jesus heals the leper. And when I say a few days, what I usually do is go digging into the commentaries to read their insights. What I love most about this is how they pull specific words out that I may have glanced over as they are familiar stories.
For example, when the man full of leprosy came his words were, “Lord if you will, you can make me clean.” If you will, you can. This man had no previous example of Jesus healing a leper, a hopeless disease, yet he came in great faith while others despised him. He knew Jesus had the ability, but was Jesus willing?
You might ask, why wouldn’t Jesus be willing? In the ancient world, leprosy was a terrible, destructive disease. There were 2 types of leprosy.
a very bad skin disease
or the disease where it started as a small spot and then it ate away the flesh until the sufferer was left with a stump. It was literally a living death.
It was just a terrible, awful, contagious disease that debilitated its victims. Society and religious people scorned lepers, thinking this disease was caused by sin and a judgement from God. So they received no pity or mercy. They were left spiritually and emotionally dead. In fact according to Jewish law/customs, a leper had to keep 6 feet away, 150 feet if there was wind. The only thing more defiling was a dead body.
Nevertheless, the leper came.
The leper knew all this, knew his hopelessness, knew how rabbis stayed clear, knew he was an outcast, he knew there was a big ol’ chance he would get turned away. In fact, I read that the healing of the leper was compared to raising the dead! Yet he knew the power of Jesus! So he came. He knew Jesus could heal.
And that he did!
How did he? With a touch. The man most likely hadn’t been touched in years yet Jesus saw the need. He didn’t have to touch him, he could have healed him with just words as he had done so many times before but the touch showed compassion. This man who was thought to be untouchable was now touched by the Messiah himself.
But then Jesus tells the leper to tell no one of his miraculous healing. Why? Basically, to calm the excitement of the crowds. It was not yet his time to reveal who he was. What gets me most though in this whole passage was this - a comment I read - super challenging one:
It’s a strange fact that the one Jesus commanded to tell no one told everyone
and we who are commanded to tell every one often tell no one.
Read that again.
we who are commanded, often tell no one.
It’s true isn’t it. It is for me. Yeah, Yeah, I have a blog and clothing line. But that’s in the safety behind the computer screen. The fact is we all fall short of this. Let’s be real…
Then let’s make a change.
Let’s be like the leper and share Jesus. It doesn’t have to be in extreme ways, it fact, 1 John 3:18 tells us to not just love in words and speech but in action and in truth. People will know Jesus not by what we say, it’s through the way we live. Our actions. The words will come. But the action comes first. It did for the leper. He came in a bold act of faith, was healed, and in the act of love and honor for the man who just miraculously healed him, he showed himself before the people. Pretty sure he didn’t even have to say a word to be a witness. Maybe he uttered the word “jesus” when people asked him how. Who knows, the text doesn’t say. But it does say that great crowds gathered to hear and be healed after they saw the man who was now clean and “whole.”
May we be like the leper who came humbly yet with a fierce faith, praying to a God who he knew had the power, to just be willing. Then may we live a life on mission - following the Great Commission - sharing with everyone what he has done for us.