After six months of living in an inner city area i have begun to see prejudice arise within me, prejudice especially towards modern day lepers.
In Matthew 8 we are given an account of Jesus’ run in with a diseased man, a leper. If we take the time to live into the story and not just read over it we find that this man comes to Jesus not only with a physical aliment but he comes bearing a disease that has caused him to be isolated spiritually and on a societal/ communal level.
As we experience the hurt, and healing of this passage and as we look upon the face of the leper at the feet of Jesus I believe we will all find that his face is a familiar one…for it is the face of both you and I.
We all have Leprosy.
I don’t mean this in the literal or physical sense, but in the spiritual and communal. Just as the leper’s disease caused him to suffer and ultimately be isolated, sin has the same effects on us. The nature of sin is that is longs to separate the soul from true health. It breaks the bond we have with our Creator leaving us spiritually dry, and even worse spiritually dead. Sin also prevents us from engaging in true, deep community as it hides itself and prevents its host from being fully known. In a very real sense the leprosy that we all have (brokenness, impurity, pride, envy, etc…) is much more deadly because it doesn’t only kill us physically but destroys any hope we have for relationship with our Creator, which brings true life and joy.
There is a Cure!!!!!
Ah, but there is hope…let me say that again, THERE IS HOPE! The beauty of this story in hidden within the courage of the leper, for he came from seclusion knowing that there was one who could heal…and healed he was. For us there is a place where we can run to find a similar healing. Today we are left with the message of the Gospel that calls all of us to come to the cross and lay our sin and disease on the body of Christ that he may take it all to the grave. At the cross men and women are set free from the very things that chained them, and at the tomb they are given a great promise of a day where no more pain will be felt. At the cross Jesus took on our diseases (in all their various forms) and put them to death so that those diseases would no longer chain us, identify us, or control us. At the tomb Jesus raises us to new life, a life that is free and abundant, where our ultimate joy and identity is found in Him. The Gospel offers full healing and full redemption in a way that nothing else ever can!
We are a Community of Lepers.
After Jesus heals the leper he sent him not to go tell every one of the magical things that occurred, but he sent him to the temple to give thanks and do what was needed for this man to be fully restored back into the worshiping community. As we are healed the very same objective is present, a command to go and join a community of people who have found the same healing and the same hope. This community is integral for support, encouragement, and to act as the continual reminder that we are all lepers who have been healed through the Gospel. In essence, we are all recovering lepers who have found the source of healing…the Cross of Jesus!
The Leper is our Brother.
Once we understand that we are all lepers, seeking hope, seeking a community, seeking a Savior then we begin to understand that the Great Physician has commissioned all of us to go tell a world full of lepers that there is a great hope. As we take this message we must understand that we are not the healer but we are the healed, those who bear scars of the past, those who are to be heralds of the great story of redemption and how they have been added to the number that was once sick with sin, but are now healed to live life and have it abundantly.
May we be the type of community that first understands our own plight and the power of the Gospel to heal us, and then enters the world calling the leper to come and know the power of the Gospel. I pray that, with the message of the Gospel and the scars of our own story, we would invite other lepers to come to Jesus and know true healing!