Matthew 8:1-4

When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” Matthew 8:1-4

Imagine you are living in a world without any of the advances of modern science or modern medicine. You don’t know anything about germs or genes. You live on a subsistence level diet, one good drought away from starvation. Your life is about survival.

The community in which you live has a long list of social expectations and deeply held traditions that are adjudicated by your village elders and religious shamans. Rain falls when God wills it to rain. People suffer because God is punishing them. A woman can’t conceive a child because she is cursed. A child born with a birth defect is rejected. A person with a visible skin malady is viewed as dangerous to the health and well-being of the community so they are shunned and sent off to live apart from the whole.

Enter Jesus. All you know of Jesus has come via word of mouth. Another healer. Another possibility of hope against hope. So you give it a shot. You track him down. You see him at a distance. You ignore the crowds who avoid you like a plague and you approach him. Desperate, you don’t care about social decorum or right and wrong, you kneel before him. “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.

Without hesitation, without judgment, without shame, he simply says, “I do choose. Be made clean!” With that word, you are set free. Healed and whole, you are freed to be. You are restored to be fully yourself – comfortable within your own skin. Free to return to your community. A living sign of the God who heals.

No wonder great crowds followed Jesus. They wanted, needed, what he had to give.

We know much about germs and genes today. Yet we still have our own forms of social distinctions. People are still judged by the color of their skin. People are still susceptible to group think, divide and conquer, blame and shame. Bigotry and racism and hate remain a cancer in our community.

Jesus heals a leper and tells him to go show himself to the priest as a testimony to the community. What if, in that healing, Jesus was less about healing the man for the sake of the community, and more about healing the community for the sake of such men?

Let us pray: Dear Lord, our brokenness is seldom as visible as unsightly skin. In our age, in every age, we struggle with blame and shame. Draw us to you and your ways. Bring us near to the broken, in touch with our own brokenness, that we might soundly reject ideas which fan flames of hatred. Be our Healer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


3 Responses to “Matthew 8:1-4”

  1. Marlys Says:

    We so needed to read your devotion today after another weekend of violence. As we pray for our country we ask God to help restore us.
    Thank you for your insight and wisdom.

  2. Dave Armstrong Says:

    I agree totally with Marly’s comments above. Challenging comments!

  3. Katherina Says:

    I just read your devotions to my Year 10’s and they were absolutely silent and completely engrossed in your words. Thank you so much for the context, for helping them see the hope Jesus brought to people like the leper and the connection to ways our modern day community can shun and cast out others. Very relevant within a school and at their age too.

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