He is willing!
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. NIV
The Encyclopedia Britannica notes that “in almost all cultures throughout history, leprosy aroused dread and loathing.” Lepers were ostracized as unclean and confined to “leper colonies.” Some believed that leprosy was a sign of rejection or punishment by God. According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary, lepers in ancient Israel were required to wear mourning clothes, leave their hair in disorder and cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” so everyone could avoid them. Often lepers were stoned when they ventured too close to towns and villages.
I can almost picture the man in Luke 5 – dishevelled hair, ragged clothes upon a ravished body, extremities missing or deformed, the foul stench of rotting flesh about him, rejected and crushed in spirit, a non-person, an outcast.
He had heard about Jesus and about all the amazing miracles that Jesus had performed. And now, here he was, right where Jesus was passing by. Here was his opportunity to break free from the downward spiral of rejection and death. Many thoughts probably went through his mind – there was no doubt that Jesus could heal him but would the Master have time for a leper, the lowest of the low, who was breaking the law by just being there.
Desperate men do desperate things and so he throws himself at Jesus’ feet. “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Without the slightest hesitation, Jesus reaches out and touches him and says, “I am willing, be clean!” And immediately, all trace of leprosy left him! The long nightmare was over.
People who are going through difficult situations often wonder if God cares enough about them to listen to their heart cries, to go the extra mile for them. They sometimes feel like lepers before God, unclean and unworthy. Perhaps they reason that they are not that spiritual, that they sinned, that they have not really served God and therefore are undeserving of His love, His mercy. They know that nothing is impossible with God but the question they have is whether He would be willing to help them, whether He would care enough to respond.
The amazing truth is that love and mercy compel Jesus to always answer, “I am willing….” to any cry or plea for help from anybody, anywhere, anytime! Religion puts conditions and restrictions upon the love and mercy of God but God’s response to every penitent heart, to the hurting, to the sick, is always, “I am willing…”; be set free
Are you going through a difficult time? Are you feeling rejected and put down? Are you sick in body? Run to the open arms of Jesus! Don’t let anyone convince you that you are just a leper before God, someone who has no business in the presence of Jesus. You are precious to Him; He is always open to your cry, always willing to go the distance for you and He’ll never turn you away. Nothing you can do, no circumstance, no situation could ever put you outside the love and grace of God.