“Suddenly, a leper walked up to Jesus and threw himself down before him in worship and said, “Lord, you have the power to heal me . . . if you really want to. Jesus reached out his hand and touched the leper and said, “Of course I want to heal you—be healed!” And instantly, all signs of leprosy disappeared!” Matthew 8:2-3 TPT
Imagine you were in the crowd following Jesus that day:
I had been on the mountain top to hear Jesus’ teaching. And although what he said was more demanding than anything I had ever heard before there was a power in His words that stirred my heart and made me want to follow Him, made me want more.
So as Jesus went down the hill side towards Capernaum, I followed Him because that was where my heart wanted me to go.
I wanted to see what He would do and hear more of what He had to say, so with the rest of the crowd I followed Him that day.
As Jesus reached the bottom of the hill I saw a leper approaching him. A man clearly disfigured, clearly ill, who should’ve been keeping clear of everyone, should’ve been ringing a bell and shouting “unclean!” so all would keep away. For the law of God proclaimed him as an outcast, one who should keep away from the temple and God’s people, so his disease would not spread to others. Everyone would’ve seen him as one cursed by God and as he drew near the crowd drew back, some even shouting at him to go away.
But Jesus did not seem to hear them, did not seem afraid or worried. He just kept on walking towards Capernaum, and towards the leper, leaving others to make their own decisions.
Suddenly the man walked up to Jesus and threw himself down on the ground, worshipping Jesus like he was God. The crowd around was horrified, drawing back further to save themselves. There were voices of anger at the man’s boldness and condemnation that he had disobeyed the law. But in the eyes of some who were silent that day, tears formed for his pain, their hearts grieving his loss.
Jesus had stopped as the leper began to worship and turned his love and gaze on the man. And finding more courage, the man spoke up saying, “Lord you have the power to heal me…. if you want to.”
Clearly the man had heard of Jesus reputation. Clearly he had heard of Jesus power. Perhaps, from afar, he had even seen Jesus healing and freeing others from sickness, seen Jesus power and authority. For his boldness in approaching Jesus said he knew Jesus need not be afraid of his illness. He knew that Jesus power could overcome his sickness; Jesus power could take it all away. And a man with that sort of power had to be one sent by God so he bowed in worship to honour Jesus that day.
But the one thing this man could not be sure of was that Jesus would welcome his presence and petition, and choose to heal him with his power that day. For over the years so many people had condemned him, condemned him as a sinner, as one abandoned by God. They told him his sickness was God’s retribution and that he deserved the illness he got. So this man was not certain that he would be welcomed or even acknowledged by this man of God. But there must’ve been something in the stories he’d heard of Jesus, or something in what he had seen from afar, that gave him hope that Jesus might heal him, might save him with God’s loving power. So he spoke up and asked, asked for Jesus healing power.
Jesus would’ve known what this man had been through. He would’ve known he was an outcast, thought of as one cursed by God. He would’ve been aware of the crowd withdrawing and of the words of condemnation they spoke over this man. But Jesus heart saw a man who was broken, broken by sin and shame and condemned by illness to die. A man looking for hope, looking for healing, looking for a God who would be on his side.
And in His first response Jesus showed he was on the leper’s side. Showed that He cared. For Jesus reached out a hand and touched the leper; touched the man that had been labelled by all as untouchable. You could’ve heard a pin drop in the collective gasp of air from the crowd. That one action shocked even Jesus’ disciples. But Jesus did not stop there. He continued looking lovingly at the leper and said, “Of course I want to heal you—be healed!”
And before anyone in the crowd had time to raise objection, the man was healed, right before our eyes! All the disfigurements that the disease had caused him were gone and he stood up straight looking at his body which was not just cleansed but whole again! The man was dumbfounded, speechless, with tears streaming down his face.
Jesus instructed him to speak to no one but to go straight to the priests and get his healing certified and make the offering demanded by the law. The man nodded, choking back tears of joy and saying, “Thank you!” quietly, over and over again. He got up and did as Jesus told him, the crowd parting in front of him as though they could not yet believe his healing.
I will never forget that day, never forget seeing Jesus love and power touch the untouchable man, never forget seeing Jesus heal and make whole the man all thought God had condemned. I will never forget because in that action I knew I had seen God’s saving grace in action in this world. And it was then that I realised that Jesus was the Messiah, the one sent by God to save us. And I decided I would follow Him wherever He went, decided I too would be His disciple.
As the now-healed-leper ran off, Jesus turned and looked straight at me. He saw the tears of joy streaming down my face, and smiled, nodding slightly in my direction. He knew what was in my heart and he was pleased. And like many others I continued to follow Jesus as he entered Capernaum.