17. A leper cleansed
WHEN Jesus was come down from the mountain, multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper, who, seeing Jesus, besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, saying,
I will; be thou clean.
And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Jesus straitly charged him,
See thou tell no man; but go thy way: say nothing to any man. Shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift for thy cleansing, those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
But he began to blaze abroad the matter; and so much the more went there a fame abroad of Jesus.
¶It came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships. He entered into one, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon,
Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
Simon answering said, Master we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.
When they had this done, they inclosed a multitude of fishes: and their net brake. They beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. They came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
For he was astonished at the draught of the fishes: and so was also James, and John, which were partners with Simon.
Jesus said unto Simon,
Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
They brought their ships to land, forsook all, and followed Jesus.
¶Again Jesus entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. Straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.
¶And, behold, men brought one sick of the palsy, lying on a bed borne by four. They could not come nigh unto Jesus for the press: and when they could not find by what way they might bring him in, they went upon the housetop, and uncovered the roof, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.
Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy,
Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
Certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, said within themselves, This man blasphemeth: who can forgive sins, but God alone? Jesus knowing their thoughts said,
What reason ye in your hearts? Why reason ye these things? Wherefore think ye evil? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins,
He saith to the sick of the palsy,
I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go thy way into thine house.
And he arose, took up his bed, and departed to his house.
Scripture: Matthew 8:1-4
Meditation 1 of 1:
Jesus did the unthinkable. He touched the untouchable. Lepers were outcasts of society. Their physical condition was terrible as they slowly lost their limbs and withered away. They were not only shunned but regarded as “already dead” even by their relatives. The Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper, lest ritual defilement occur. The leper did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man’s misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. He touched the man and made him clean — not only physically but spiritually as well. Some eleven centuries later, another man, named Francis, met a leper on the road as he journeyed towards Assisi. “Though the leper caused him no small disgust and horror, he nonetheless, got off the horse and prepared to kiss the leper. But when the leper put out his hand as though to receive something, he received money along with a kiss” (from the Life of St. Francis by Thomas of Celano). Francis did what seemed humanly impossible because he was filled with the love and compassion of Christ. The Holy Spirit inflames our hearts with the love of Christ that we may reach out to others with compassionate care, especially to those who have been rejected and mistreated. Do you allow the Holy Spirit to fill your heart with the love and compassion of Christ for others?
“May the power of your love, Lord Christ, fiery and sweet as honey, so absorb our hearts as to withdraw them from all that is under heaven. Grant that we may be ready to die for love of your love, as you died for love of our love. (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 13th century)
Scripture: Matthew 9:1-8
Meditation: What cripples the mind and heart and stiffles the healing power of love? Sin and unforgiveness for certain! Sin cripples us more than any physical ailment can. Sin is the work of the kingdom of darkness and it holds us in eternal bondage. There is only one solution and that is the healing, cleansing power of Jesus’ forgiveness. Jesus’ treatment of sinners upset the religious teachers of the day. When a cripple was brought to Jesus because of the faith of his friends, Jesus did the unthinkable. He first forgave the man his sins. The scribes regarded this as blasphemy because they understood that only God had authority to forgive sins and to unbind a man or woman from their burden of guilt. Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, he showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well. Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well. The Lord is every ready to bring us healing of mind, body, and soul. His grace brings us freedom from the power of sin and from bondage to harmful desires and addictions. Do you allow anything to keep you from Jesus’ healing power?
“Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, soul, and mind. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life — my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offences and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your truth and righteousness.”