Determined and Delighted
Determined and Delighted
Words of Faith 4-5-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <><
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."
 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" And immediately the leprosy left him.
 Then Jesus ordered him, "Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them."
 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Leprosy is an interesting disease in the Bible. It is one of the few diseases named specifically. In the ancient world leprosy carried with it a lot of fear and stigma. This was not just because it was horribly disfiguring. The Law was very specific about the treatment of those even suspected to have leprosy.
The suspected leper lived a life of isolation without much sympathy from the community. Leprosy had been a punishment from God against Miriam the sister of Moses for her gossip against Moses. The rabbinical tradition viewed all disease as a punishment from God but particularly this one. A leper was "unclean" because of the disease, but theologically they were also diseased because they were "unclean".
But it gets worse. In practice, diagnosis was not very good. There were no labs for testing and almost any skin spot or ailment could be called "leprosy" causing a person to be declared "unclean" and cast out from the community. Something as simple as a white patch of skin or even serious acne could be declared "leprous".
Those who actually had the dread disease had to deal with a disintegration of the nerves and body. Those that started with perfect health but for a benign skin spot were soon infected with the real thing after they were banished to the colony of lepers. Once labeled "unclean," one did not get better.
The man who came Jesus on that was severely disfigured. He was "covered with leprosy" or as the Greek says "full" of leprosy. This was not suspected leprosy. For him, approaching Jesus was a last act of desperation. But this man seemed to have an unusual faith. He showed absolutely no doubt that Jesus could cleanse him. He seemed to know that Jesus was Messiah or he had heard enough about the healing power of Jesus. He was not sure if he deserved healing but he had no doubt about the power of Jesus.
He fell with his face to the ground and begged Him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Why such faith? Maybe he was just at the end of his rope. If this Jesus did not help nothing would matter anyway.
It is interesting that the man did not actually ask to be healed. He asked to be clean. Perhaps the real agony in his life was not so much in the physical malady as in the spiritual isolation, the complete loneliness and sense that no one else really understood or cared. You can make me clean. You can make me right and reconciled. No longer will my approach be marked by a clanging bell. You can make it so that I can approach God once again.
In response, Jesus did a powerful thing. He touched him. That is important. The man must have been shocked. There was no other Rabbi in all of Israel that would have touched this man. No good Jew for that matter. What's more no one had touched him since he had been declared unclean. Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Imagine if you had not been touched in years and the first hand you feel is that of Jesus the Son of God!
The Greek here is NOT passive in Jesus' response to the question. Jesus was not "willing to go along" with healing him. Jesus was not saying "Sure... It's alright with me..." The word can be translated "I am determined" or even "delighted" to make you clean. We often fail to realize that Jesus is more willing to give than we are to receive.
It is not that Jesus is just willing. He is more willing cleanse us than we are to be cleansed. In fact, Jesus is DETERMINED to make us clean and DELIGHTED to do so. That is never at issue.
The command that followed in this case was simple. BE CLEAN! Katharizo is the word from which we get the word catharsis. Be purged, purified, and completely cleaned! It is this Word of the Lord that cleanses. And immediately the leprosy left him.
Many people probably wondered about what Jesus said next. Then Jesus ordered him, "Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them."
Some have said that Jesus was really using reverse psychology and wanted word to spread, that the best way to get people to talk is to tell them something is a secret! This is doubtful. More likely, Jesus was simply not ready for the masses that He knew would come later.
But Jesus did want a testimony to go to the priests, the religious leaders of Israel. Why? The healing of a leper was one clear sign of the coming of Messiah. Jesus was sending a message far in advance. Messiah is here.
Is there a cleansing needed in your life? Jesus is more than willing. In fact, He is determined and delighted to cleanse you and make you right with God. We need only ask.
Jesus, I know that You can cleanse my life of anything that is in the way of Your Spirit. I know that You can heal the deepest hurts and pains. I know that You can restore me to a right relationship with You and with others. I know that You delight to do so and you are determined to do so. Cleanse me, O Lord. In Jesus' name.