If you are willing
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. NIV
Picture the scene: a man with leprosy, a man with a most dreadful disease. Leprosy meant separation and rejection. Lepers were outcasts condemned to die a slow and lingering death. Often they were stoned and driven away because people were afraid of being infected. This man risked rebuke to even come near Jesus and the people who were with him. But desperation often overcomes fear, doesn’t it?
When he gets to Jesus, he says simply: “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
If you are willing?
It wasn’t a question about whether Jesus was able to heal but whether Jesus would be willing to heal him. I have often wondered why he said that. Perhaps he had been told that people like him were too unworthy to come before the Son of God. Perhaps he was terrified of the crowd around Jesus – how many times had crowds like that tried to silence the desperate cries of someone seeking help. It may have simply been that he was just overcome by his own sense of worthlessness.
And so he came…on his knees…begging for a touch from Jesus…hoping that Jesus would not turn him away like all the other people he had encountered.
“If you are willing.… ”
I want you to note that Mark records that immediately Jesus was filled with compassion. “If you are willing?” I can just picture Jesus looking at this hapless man and thinking:
“Oh my brother, if only you knew… I came for you and all the others like you who are lost, despised, rejected, hurting, desperate.
When my Father asked me if I was willing to lay my life down for you and all mankind, I was willing. When my Father asked me if I was willing to give up my deity to come to earth to endure the scorn of men, to know rejection and humiliation, to feel the whiplash of angry men upon my back and then to suffer death on a cross, I was willing. I was willing because I love you so much. Oh my brother, I am willing…with all my heart, I am willing.”
And so Jesus immediately reached out to him and healed him.
“If you are willing.…”
How many times have desperate men and women come to God with those words on their hearts? Perhaps it is a doctor’s report that says you shall die and not live. Or some grave family crisis that has brought them very low. Or a disastrous financial situation or one of the hundreds of other things that can lay a crushing burden on weary hearts. And they come to Him desperate and wondering whether Jesus cares, whether He is willing to supernaturally intervene in their lives that they may be healed, delivered or set free because only something supernatural will save them.
“I am willing,” says the Lord to you. “My brother, my sister…I am willing. Be made whole, be set free, be released of that burden. I have overwhelming compassion and love for you and I am not willing that you should be so burdened down anymore. Come to me. Bring all you cares and burdens to me and I will give you peace. I will satisfy the deepest longings of your soul. Come to me for I am willing….”
Jesus is able. Jesus is willing. And Jesus is always there for you! Be encouraged. Be blessed. Keep going.