What was the most distinguishing quality of a leper? Was it the unsightly skin or the smell of decaying flesh? As bad as those bodily ailments were, the worst part of leprosy was emotional rather than physical. The most distinctive and disturbing feature of leprosy was the loneliness. To avoid spreading the disease or defiling others, those stricken were forced to live away from loved ones. Should a leper happen upon someone unaffected, he was to cry out, “Unclean” as a warning to keep away.
Jesus was the last hope for people who were stricken by this and other incurable diseases. When they heard the incredible stories of His power and compassion, they dared to hope again. In one city, a man with a full-blown case of leprosy audaciously approached Jesus, fell to the ground, and begged Him to heal him saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” If you will, you can. Those words resonate in the heart of every person who is suffering today. How precious when Jesus responded, “I will; be clean.”
This encounter was preserved in Scripture to give hope to the hopeless, and even more intractable than leprosy is the uncleanness of sin that defiles both body and soul. Jesus is still in the hope restoration business. At the resurrection, every disease, handicap, and injury will be reversed, but for those who suffer spiritually, the wait is even shorter. When you obey the gospel, your soul is instantly returned to its pristine condition. Moreover, your loneliness is immediately remedied in the forgiveness and fellowship of the church. Like the leper, you must ask for Jesus’ help. In baptism, you are casting yourself before Jesus as your only hope and calling on the name of the Lord. You are saying in effect, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” When you are immersed as He commanded, His blood touches you and makes your soul new again. The promise of Jesus contained in The Great Commission is crystal clear: “I will; be clean.”
Aubrey Johnson, Minister
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