Monday, October 7, 2013

I Am That Leper

This morning I had a new post all lined up to send out about why God puts the brakes on.  As I was doing my devotions this morning, I thought it better for the reader to go a slightly different direction this morning. So my apologies if you were ready to read about me in the stocks, I promise you, I will get to that article.  God really pierced my heart this morning with an amazing lesson.  Yesterday was the one year anniversary of Connections Church in Franklin and my family and I got the privilege to be there for that.  Pastor Gary Walker touched briefly on Matthew 8:1-4, the story about Jesus and the leper.  I rolled this story around in my head all day yesterday and all morning this morning.  I went back to it and studied it with some intensity and was deeply touched by just four verses.  I thought it would be a great way to start the week.
Jesus had just finished his sermon on the mount where he had just taught with absolute authority.  I've come to realize that the sermon on the mount can be one of the most controversial sermons to date.  Yet Jesus makes no apologies for what he preaches there.  As J. Vernon McGee says, Jesus has just enunciated the ethic, does he have the power.
So Jesus descends from the mountain on which he has just delivered this famous sermon and crowds are following him.  I think that it is a beautiful display that Jesus is teaching on a mountainside and then he descends to be with those in need.  An interesting thing happens here, there are crowds that are following him.  That is not all that interesting, but mixed in this crowd is a leper.  This is a very dangerous thing for this leper to do.  If he is discovered in this crowd he will be stoned.  Leprosy was perhaps the most abhorrent disease during this time. It often represented someone suffering because of sin.  Those who had the disease had to yell, "unclean!  unclean!" when they were near people so that everyone would know they had leprosy and flee them.  They were abandoned and rejected by humanity and in reality, leprosy had little to nothing to do with the sin of the person.
Imagine this for a moment.  You wake up tomorrow and you notice some swelling on your skin.  You put some Cortisone cream on it and get back to business.  A week or so later, it continues to get worse so you go off to see the priest.  The priest explains to you that you have leprosy and you are to be isolated.  You ask to go and say goodbye to your wife and kids, but the priest tells you that you can never touch them or be near them again.  You are to be in isolation for the rest of your days.  You are forced to watch from afar as your children grow up and your wife grows old with out you.  You long for the reassuring touch of a human being but it will not come.  You are utterly alone and most likely despised by everyone. (McGee, 46 emphasis mine)
You see this leper understood very well the power of Jesus and he knew that Jesus had the power to heal him.  He also understood that it was God's will that superseded all things.  So when he approaches Jesus, he speaks God's language.  Notice what he doesn't say, "I want you to heal me."  I think I pray like that sometimes.  I want you to do this and I want you to do that.  Less frequent, but more powerful are the prayers, "if it is your will God, would you allow this", "Father, I want your will in this situation, do whatever brings you glory".  This is praying in God's language and it works so powerfully.  The leper does this, asking, "if you are willing, I can be healed."  There is no question in the lepers mind that Jesus has the strength and power and authority to do this, and he submits himself before Jesus and his word evidence his posture before Christ.
Jesus, hearing this man's plea, does something that no one has done in a long, long time, He puts his hand on him.  He touches him.  I can't, for a moment, imagine how amazing it must have felt to have the hand of the Almighty Savior on me.  And then those compassionate words, "I am willing."  In a moment, Jesus reaffirms that he has the authority and the power to heal.  "Be clean!" and immediately the leprosy left him.  Not after a week of antibiotics, or a month of Cipro, immediately!!!  IMMEDIATELY!!!  It was gone and he was restored.
This just reminded me that we serve the same Jesus today that healed that leper on that day.  He has the ultimate power and for those who have trusted in him, we have been adopted into his family.  We are his sons and daughters and we all have pains and problems and sin.  As I prayed this morning, I began to think about the anxiety of preparing for Uganda.  How is the money all going to work out, what about selling our house, am I going to be done with my Masters degree in time, what about shots and drugs for the kids, etc. The list just goes on like that.  Its almost as if I trust more in the power of my worry than I do in Jesus ability to take it away from me.  As I bathed my heart and my mind in the idea that Jesus is willing so long as I am asking for His will, I had a great hope restored to me.  I was reminded that the Savior of the world, bent down and took the time to cleanse a leper like me. My soul was pitted and filled with inflamed sores and rot and no one could fix me.  My spirit was a shattered vase that no one could put back together.  And yet, He was willing to cleanse me?  He was willing to touch me?  He was willing to put me back together?  That's why I was so confused by the next statement to the leper, "see to it that you tell no one".  For Jesus it had implications in that day.  But, I am so overjoyed at His redemption of me that I would have reacted the same way.  LOOK WHAT JESUS DID!!!!!!  Praise God that we have the privilege of watching the things around us decay and fall away while the things that Christ does are renewed and refreshed daily.  Jesus, this is truly all about You.  This is Your show and I am humbled and awestruck that You are allowing me to take part in it.  Thank you for being willing and having the power to do what You will!!!  Yesu Amala!!!!

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