A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees,
“If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man.
“I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”
Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
Mark 1:40-42 (NIV)
The young woman across from me confessed to a very antisocial lifestyle that she had engaged in for some years. Weeping so hard it was sometimes difficult to understand her she poured out her story. When she was finished she sobbed, “How could God love me?”
Among the things I pointed out to her in Scripture was this story of Jesus’ love for this unlovable man. The man was not unlovable so much because of moral issues in his life, but he was a leper and society in Jesus’ time avoided such people and paid little attention to them. It was believed that leprosy was contagious in Jesus’ time and, therefore, such people were forced to live in colonies separate from society in general.
Also, leprosy is a dreadfully disfiguring disease. I have seen lepers in Africa and it makes your heart ache to see how they lose fingers, feet, become blind and suffer other mutilating results of the disease. Physically they are unattractive to most people.
People also regarded leprosy as virtually incurable, so it follows that the man in our story evidenced great faith in Jesus’ miraculous powers by coming for “cleansing”. It follows that no one who was not infected with the disease would ever consider touching such a person.
Jesus is shown in the story to have enormous compassion for the man because He not only was willing to make him clean, but He actually touched him in order to transfer His miraculous power. Our Lord might have merely spoken the word and the miracle would have happened. But Jesus demonstrated love to one who was regarded as unlovable—even untouchable in His day—by His touch.
So it is that I dare to offer Jesus to those who see themselves as the most “unclean” of people. My Savior is in the business of rescuing the people whose lives are in shambles, whose situation is utterly hopeless as they see it. “How could God love a person like the young woman described above?” Well, I do not understand how He could love me. God has shown me something of the evil that still lurks in my own heart after 50 years of seeking to follow Him.
What I am supremely confident of is that Jesus still touches the untouchable. He willingly reaches out to those who cry to Him for mercy and “cleansing”.
Never be hesitant to come to Jesus because your life bears many scars of sin. Doubt not that He can—and is willing—to reach out to you and touch you right where you are. However, rest assured that He is totally unwilling to leave you where He finds you. He will create within you a heart for Him and grant you a whole new life just as He did that leper so long ago, just as He wonderfully did for the young lady described above, and just as He did for me. Jesus is willing, Jesus can, Jesus will. come as the leper, come as the young lady, come as I did. He will make you clean.