He had heard that Jesus was teaching out in the country side. He had carefully traveled day and night to get there in time to hear Jesus. He had been disappointed to learn that Jesus had gone up to the mountain, and they didn't know when he would come and descend from his hilly retreat.
People were rushing past him on the path towards Jesus. Every one had their reasons for wanting to see Jesus, but he had a need. Without Jesus, he was as good as dead.
Take a step. Keep on going. Get to Jesus. He fought through the pain. The leprosy ate away at his body, and no matter how much he tried to pretend otherwise, the constant, agonizing pain was a brutal reminder that he was unclean, and thus, unloved.
He dragged his foot along awkwardly behind him, in too much pain to lift it. A sharp rock in the path snagged his bloody, rotting limb. With a scream of agony, he stumbled. He didn't need to look to see that the sores on his foot were cut open and bleeding profusely.
Looking around carefully, he put the bell used to announce his presence in his robe pocket. Using his teeth, he tore off the edge of his sleeve. He tied it around the majority of the wound. He stood up slowly, and continued on his mission.
He pressed through the crowd, trying not to draw attention. In his desperation to get to Jesus, he was breaking the law. His bell was tucked into his pocket, and he didn't dare yell out his uncleanness. If the people realized a leper walked among them, they would riot in terror, and then, stone him in anger.
At last, he could see Jesus. He was sitting on the ground like he wasn't a marvelous prophet and healer, but just like any other man. People sat around him in a large semi-circle. They listened intently, hanging on every word he said.
Maneuvering around the clusters of people, he stopped at the edge of people, and started at Jesus. He felt his heart leap as Jesus turned, and looked at him! In that moment, everything was perfect.
A shrill scream pierced the perfect quiet. "He's a leper!" The accusing woman grabbed her son, and took off running down the path. He gasped, inspecting his clothes in a desperate attempt to cover the offending area. Oh, no! His temporary bandage had come loose, exposing the grayish sores around his left ankle. All at once everything exploded. Everyone scrambled to get away from him. A big man about ten feet away picked up a rock, and hurled the stone at him. "Why didn't you announce yourself, leper?" A young boy peeked out from behind the big man as he shouted, "Stone him!"
Stones started pelting him, and he dropped to the ground in a crumpled-up ball, trying to protect himself. As the rocks rained down on him, he sobbed. He had been so close! Now he would die a leper. An outcast. A man unloved in society.
Suddenly, the rain of rocks stopped. He opened his eyes, trying to see what was happening. The sobs still racked his body, seizing his breath. Jesus stood not three feet away! His hands were held up, palms facing away from him. Some of the people looked ashamed. Most of them looked angry that Jesus had stopped them.
He just continued to cry. A broken man. Years ago, he had been forced to leave his family. He never even got to tell them why he had to go! He just disappeared. The laws dictated that he avoid people, and if he came across any human being, he must yell "Unclean!" while ringing his little bell. Day after day, he had spoken that curse into his life. Everyone looked at him with scorn and contempt. They hated him, and they didn't even know why. He left them alone. He followed the rules. He lived in a garbage pile for crying out loud! At night, he would sit in the spoiled food, and look into the city...wishing for a life he could never have. He was all alone. A real and true outcast.
"Lord," he stretched his hand towards Jesus, "If you will, you can make me clean." But why would Jesus want to do that? He was worthless scum. Unclean. Unnecessary to life. Hot tears burned down his face. Why would he want to heal me?
"I will; be clean."
He looked up at Jesus. He had knelt down beside him, and was reaching out his hand..."I will. Be clean." With that statement, Jesus touched him. Put his hand right on his shoulder! Then Jesus wrapped his arms around him in a huge hug of love, redemption, and healing. He clung to Jesus' embrace with every fiber of his being.
Lovely, healthy flesh caught his eye. Gasping, he realized it was him! Jesus had healed him!
Based on Matthew 8:1-4
Leprosy was the biggest, terrible, painful, and devastating disease in Jesus' day. He had to keep away from everyone. He couldn't give hugs or get hugs. He was empty and broken. Every day he had to speak a curse into his life, "Unclean." How would you like to go around yelling your biggest, most painful secret to everyone?
Do you ever feel like you are on the outside looking into the happy family? Do you feel unclean or unworthy? Do you feel unloved? Do you look around and see everyone else thriving, strengthening in God, and developing in their gifts, yet you feel stuck, broken, and backsliding? Where are your gifts and talents? What's wrong with you?
I think we all feel like that, probably more then we want to admit. Jesus wants to heal your heart of that pain.
The leprous man made a very heart-wrenching statement. He said, "If you will, you can make me clean." He was saying, "Only if you want to heal me. You may not want to heal me. I know that you can. You have that power, but I'm trash. You may not be willing to heal me."
Jesus said, "Of course I am willing!"
Jesus wants to heal you. He wants to love you. He wants you. You may think I'm crazy, but it is very true!
"For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers." Hebrews 2:11
When Jesus is Lord of your life, you are sanctified through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. We are all cleansed and redeemed from our pasts. From that point on, we are part of Jesus' family. Jesus isn't ashamed of that. He isn't ashamed of us! He wants us! He's going around saying, "This guy is my awesome brother!", or "This is my sister!". He is not ashamed to call you family. He loves you!
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?" Romans 8:25
Can anything separate us from that love of God? No! I think we forget just how much God loves us sometimes! He is more then willing to heal us! More then willing to help us! More then willing to love us with all His heart! In fact, He is desperate to love us.
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39
"The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." Jeremiah 313
Jesus has an impassioned love for you! His love is everlasting and faithful. Nothing can destroy His love for you. He is filled with that love, and He shows that love for us in so many ways. He is willing to love you! You don't ever need to let other people's scorn and lies wound you. You don't ever need to feel like the outcast of society. You are a conqueror of those! They have no place in your life! You are the healed of the Lord! Allow God to heal your heart and soul. Allow His impassioned love to flow through you.
His love will heal you through and through!
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