After reading these verses I decided to do a google search on leprosy. I knew it was a skin disease that caused deformities. In Biblical times a person with leprosy was considered unclean and became an outcast to society. A leper was completely isolated because the disease was passed by human to human contact. Because of this isolation, a leper was unable to provide for himself. When I did my google search I looked for images because I was curious what a leper looked like. One picture in particular was incredibly disturbing. Too gruesome for me to post here. When I saw the picture I thought, That's scary! If I were to meet a leper I would avoid contact. Regardless of whether or not I could contract the disease I don't think, in my selfish state, that I would hug a leper. Shame on me.
Now that I know what a leper looks like, the pity and compassion that Jesus extended to the man in this passage impresses me even more. In those days you would become ceremonially unclean if you touched a leper. Jesus, of course, was not worried about that. Instead of Jesus becoming unclean, He had the power to instead make the leper clean!
Imagine being that man. Diseased and sick. No family or friends nearby. Pain. Shame. Deformities that embarrassed him. Nobody to love him or hug him. Imagine living with a disease that causes everyone to run from you. And then you meet Jesus. This man had faith. He knew Jesus could heal him and when he asks Jesus to do so he hears, "I will." I try to put myself in the shoes of this sick man and imagine what it must have been like to hear those words. What an answer to his prayers! What a gift - a new life! The compassion Jesus showed this man moves me.
And then I remember that this is the same Jesus I worship today. He still has the power to change lives. And though I am sick and diseased (because of my sin) I can call upon Jesus Christ to change me. I don't have to live trapped in my sin. And when I ask Jesus to forgive me for my sin and to draw me to Himself he responds with the same answer. "I will."
I am not "clean" or forgiven because of me. I can not earn God's forgiveness or favor. I don't deserve it. But he gives it freely. And he will give it to you too. Jesus alone has the power to change us.