He was scared to death. He knew he shouldn’t be here. He knew that if he got caught he could get beat up, or arrested, and if things got crazy he could even be killed. But he already knew there were things worse than death. He wasn’t quiet sure if the stories were even true, or if this whole crazy plan was going to work, but he had to try.
He had put on clothes that he normally wouldn’t wear. He pulled his hat down tight hoping no one would recognize him, hoping that no one would see his face. All he wanted was to blend in and go unnoticed. If just for one day he could fit in and be normal, not get laughed at, not get ridiculed, not get ignored like he wasn’t human, not feel ashamed just for being alive, just for one day somebody would care… God, that would be a miracle.
You ever feel like that? Embarrassed, ashamed, afraid, alone? You feel like I don’t belong here, man I don’t fit in, if these people really knew who I was, if these people knew what I’ve done. If these people really knew what was going on, they wouldn’t treat me the same.
That’s a feeling this guy knew all to well. For years he felt like that but today he was going to take a risk, today things were going to change. With each step he took his heart pounded harder, with each step he second guessed himself, with each step he got just a little more nervous. But to with each step he got closer to his moment of truth.
And with one final step he was there… it was too late to turn back now
“When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Matthew 8:1-2
Back in the day if you had leprosy you were considered the walking dead. No one cared for you no one touched you. No one talked to you. No one looked at you like a human. You were considered a piece of filth, trash. No one wanted you around; you were forced to live out side of society, not allowed to talk to the normal people. You were forced to wear black robes, symbolizing death and if any one came close to you, you had to yell UNCLEAN. So everyone knew you were different and needed to be avoided.
This guy knew he could be killed just for walking into town. But like I said, something’s are worse than death. Like being alive but not having anyone who cares, like feeling totally alone, like being sick of being you.
So now he falls down in front of Jesus crying out for help. “God please help, I am nothing, I am done I have no where else to turn. God please.” He pours it all out and waits to see what happens.
Everywhere Jesus went he always had a crowd follow and this time was no different. So now every one is watching, what is Jesus going to do? Is he going to turn his back on this guy? By law he had every right to walk away. He could call the cops, he could have the crowd throw this guy out like trash.
Or is Jesus going to help this guy and risk everything he had. Would Jesus run the risk of becoming UNCLEAN himself? And then Jesus wouldn’t be allowed back in town, he would be considered dead also.
So the crowd watched and the leper waited.
Like I said moment of truth no turning back.
“Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” Matthew 8:3-4
Jesus reached down and touched the leper. When every one else had walked away from him, when everyone else called him names, when everyone else insulted him, Jesus touched him.
With one touch Jesus said, “I don’t care what everyone else thinks, I don’t care if you are dirty, I don’t care if you are ashamed or scared or afraid. I don’t care about all of that. I want to touch you because I care about You.”
As soon as Jesus touched this man, his body started to regenerate, cells reformed, and healing began. But the healing continued as this nameless leper gets to return home to family he hasn’t seen for a long time. He starts to feel physical contact for the first time. And deep down in dark corners of a hopeless heart faith is restored.
That’s who Jesus was and that’s who Jesus still is. He cares more about individuals than the crowd. He cares more about the hurting than the popular norm. And He loves at all costs even if that cost is His reputation or ultimately his life.
You know the worse part of leprosy? I don’t think it’s the disease, actually the nerves start to die so you don’t even feel it – I think the true pain is being looked at, mocked, feeling less than human, just being walked by and going completely unnoticed.
You ever felt like as leper?
Like we are outsiders, like we have nowhere we fit in, nowhere to turn. Or we feel ashamed or embarrassed scared. You feel like just being here is a bad idea. If the people in this room knew what I was into they wouldn’t want me here. If they knew what I think, or know what I’ve done… God I’m unclean.
The worst part isn’t being physically hurt – it’s being alone.
I grew up in a house where I woke up every day – wondering would today be the day some one notices? Someone cares? Weeks & months of just floating through life – like I wasn’t there, there were always people there and yet I always felt alone.
I’ve always loved this story – because I can relate, I want to stop and talk about this story and look at our lives…
The thing that I love about the Bible is the fact that the story is the fact that I have always loved how timeless this story is. Even though there have been many years since this healing took place and we are in a different world now, the truth of this story still remains.
Though it’s been a few thousand years and we live in a different time and culture three things are still the same today.
He’s the guy everyone talked about, this leper knew the stories, the promises, but he didn’t know Jesus until he stepped forward and risked everything.
And I love how Jesus responds, “I am willing” and Jesus risks everything. And it wasn’t just lepers or that time, but all of us all the time.
Promise – Matthew 11:28-30 – Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Unchanging powerful, loving cared more for us that his own feeling, passionate about us, no matter what we feel like, he simply asks us to respond to him – Come and I’ll give, I’ll heal now go and do this, are you willing to go to him? Are you willing to respond?
- The Leper
Hurting looking for help
Moved forward – took the challenge
Take the first step – call on Jesus, ask for help, start reading the word, change your thought pattern.
Easy – no, scary – yes, hard – yep, worth it – oh yes
Days I hated life I just needed to hold on to God, I knew what I earned me, I needed to try something different (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Change our process – change our out come
- The Crowd
You know what makes a person a modern leper? The crowd, not their situation, but the people who do or do not respond to them.
My crowd was my family, maybe yours is at school,
Maybe you are the crowd – so I need to ask, how are you going to respond?
Are you going to keep watching? Mocking? Walking By?
Or are you going to help? Are you willing to live like Christ and reach out to touch
Help others – listen, don’t judge, point to the truth, support not ultimatum, communicate
You might be hurting right now – reach out to a God who loves you more than anything, trust in His promises and his people for help.
You might not be hurting – maybe you need to be the hands of Jesus and reach out to the hurting.