“And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons. And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.” Mark 1:39-42
Just before this leper’s healing, Jesus had been by Himself in a secluded place and His disciples told Him that everyone was looking for Him. The news about the miracles Jesus was doing spread so fast that it was hard sometimes for those with Jesus to keep up. Wherever Jesus went, people followed who were sick or had demons in them. No internet or phones back then, just word of mouth and it worked very well. So well in fact, that often crowds would show up out of nowhere.
So it’s in a setting like that, “a leper came to Jesus.” It struck me that by law, a leper was separated people. And here, there are crowds of people around Jesus all the time when he fell on his knees asking Jesus to heal him. This took guts and it was a huge risk. Lepers by law had to live outside the city and would be punished if they went where other people were who weren’t lepers. I’m sure he had (like so many others) heard about Jesus and didn’t care what would happen to him if he got caught, however long he had his disease. What I see in this man is desperation but courage at the same time. He could have stayed home, obeyed the law to the letter, and missed his healing. He is obviously not at all sure that Jesus would even want to heal him. I mean, his disease prevented him from being around people, so why would it be different this time? Don’t we all think that way? We talk ourselves out of so much in life because we dare not suffer unanswered prayer and the pressure of disappointment we might face if our prayer isn’t answered.
When the leper beseeches Jesus and falls on his knees, I think it hit him right in the moment what he was doing. He was exposed to everyone, even himself. His doubts came tumbling out, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” No one else wanted to be around him, so why would Jesus be any different? He heard of many others being healed, but would he somehow be different enough that Jesus wouldn’t want to heal him? Oh, we all feel this way! It’s no wonder the Holy Spirit chose to record this for us.
Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Whenever it states that Jesus was moved with compassion, it really means that He had a physical feeling deep inside Himself of love and mercy for another. And the compassion is so deep that even the deepest part of His bowels would have some sensation of love for another. Our English doesn’t really do justice to the intensity of love that the word compassion holds. And Jesus touched the man! No one touches a leper, but Jesus, master of all flesh, has no concerns. He is Lord over sin and disease and any demonic activity. Can you imagine how the leper felt when he was touched? I bet a long time of sorrow poured out of him with that touch. I bet tears of joy flowed out of his innermost being, just at being touched by another. We have no idea the healing that is accomplished with touch – the touch of true love.
Do you have something that makes you feel like you are separated from others? It might be emotional wounds, or some other thing other than a serious disease like this man had. The enemy can convince us that no one likes us because of our wounds, and then we keep ourselves away from people so as not to experience more rejection than perhaps we’ve already experienced. Our thoughts can be as destructive as leprosy. Something may be eating at your heart and you avoid God because you think He would reject you for how you feel. It’s these types of things we have a hard time asking God to heal. You are not alone if you feel this way.
Jesus didn’t chide the leper for being doubtful. Notice what is missing…no mention of things like, “You came out into the open and infected others, go home and I’ll heal you there. Or, you didn’t have great faith (you doubted my willingness) so I may heal you another time, when your faith is stronger. Or, you have some hidden sin in your heart and that’s what caused your sickness, so get rid of that sin and then and only then will I heal you.” Jesus totally understood this man’s hesitancy. He knew his illness had grave consequences in his mind and heart, let alone on his body. I believe the mind and heart suffer more from disease than the disease itself. Jesus understood that and made it a point to tell him, “I am willing!” I imagine that hearing, “I am willing,” would have been just as much part of the healing as being touched. When Jesus touches you and speaks kindness to your heart, healing has to follow.
All the leper did was to ask, and it was a doubtful asking at that. So if you find yourself doubting if God even cares about your sickness today, rest your mind that He wants to heal you more than you want it yourself. He is more than willing! Don’t wait to ask Him until you think your faith is strong. Just come to Him as you are, tell Him all about your wavering and your doubts. He loves honesty! I think the leper’s honesty was part of his healing. There were obviously others around to record this event. That’s where the risk was for the leper – he asked in front of other people. The enemy will tell us, “What if you don’t get healed? How terrible you will feel then!” Don’t listen to his jabs. Just go to Jesus despite your fears and concerns. Take your healing, receive the supply Jesus has for you, and run with it just like the leper did!