The stories and news reports were reaching my little village and a spark of hope began to spring up, perhaps for the first time since the day I pulled my shirt over my head to get into bed that night nearly four years ago. My wife asked me about the white splotch under my left arm.
I had to pack my things, leave my home, my wife of nine years, and my three beautiful children, and go live with the lepers.
Some say there is no way out of this village, but I have seen many leave. Their destination? The grave. Welcome to No Hope Flats, my home.
Jesus meets a leper in Matthew 8.
This leper put into words the thought a great number of good God honoring Christ followers have every day:
Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean. ~ Matthew 8:2
A number of things intrigue me about this statement.
He acknowledges Jesus as Lord.
He doesn’t question the ability of Jesus to heal.
He doesn’t actually ask Jesus a question.
He begins on a very good footing. He calls Jesus “Lord.” This is as much a fact today as when He walked the shores of Galilee. Jesus is Lord. As He sat on the hillside teaching, the people could tell – they knew this was not some gifted teacher. The authority, which He carried, declared it.
He had demonstrated right from the start of His ministry that sickness and disease were under His authority, and the leper had, no doubt, heard these stories. He, our leprous friend, does not wonder about Jesus’ ability. He is confident that he has come to the one man who could set him free from this living death of leprosy.
He does however have this HUGE question that is stuck right in the center of his being.
Will He or won’t He?
He does not frame it as a question though. It is almost as though if he asked the Lord the question, it would force an answer, and the thing he dreads even more than living with his disease is going back to a land of no hope.
When Jesus comes on the scene suddenly hope springs up. It stands boldly on our friends splotchy right shoulder saying – ask Him, ask Him, ask Him. But in his left ear he hears some familiar words. I bet you have heard some of these in your left ear.
- You deserve this disease
- You certainly don't deserve healing
- He won’t help the likes of you
- Maybe if you were a better father (mother, son, daughter)
- Maybe if you were a better Christian (prayed more, served harder, slept less, ate less)
You no doubt have heard others. That left shoulder liar has a HUGE repertoire to shut down hope.
Today there are a few words I want you to hear. I want you to hear Jesus speak them to you. If you can identify with our leprous friend, I want you to read these next few lines out loud – YES out loud – do it – really – it’s important that you hear Jesus' answer to this unspoken question.
I am willing; be cleansed. ~ Matthew 8:3
I am willing; be cleansed. ~ Luke 5:13
I am willing; be cleansed. ~ Mark 1:41
Just in case you are not sure you understand what Jesus said, here is Matthews account in a few different translations (keep reading out loud – it will help)
I am willing; be cleansed by being cured. AMP
I do want to. Become clean. CEB
I want to! Now you are well. CEV
I want to heal you. Be healed! ERV
I will; be clean. ESV
Of course I want to. Be clean! JBP (I love this one!)
I will; be thou clean. KJV
I do choose. Be made clean! NRSV
Of course I wish to. Be clean. VOICE
Are you getting the point. There is no equivocation here. Jesus takes this non-question, these waves of doubt and hope that are tossing our new friend to and fro, and calms them with this one phrase.
I want you to hear Him speak these words today, and not just in your right ear, but in your inner most being. “I Will, be clean.”
See you again soon.
Oh yeah, don't forget to leave your questions about the Bible or Christian life here:
Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation; Common English Bible (CEB) Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible; Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society; Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) Copyright © 2006 by World Bible Translation Center; English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.; J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS) J. B. Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition by HarperCollins; King James Version (KJV) by Public Domain; New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.; The Voice (VOICE) The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.