The Faith of a Leper

Summer 2011 201

And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  Matthew 8:2-3

Do you have the faith of the leper? Are you willing to approach God with full confidence that he can do absolutely anything in his great power? This leper, lacking any power of his own in regard to his physical strength or his standing in society, knew that Jesus could do anything, even cleanse a leper like himself.  Approaching Jesus with humility and faith, he states, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” He doesn’t ask Jesus if he can make him clean, he tells him that he knows he can. Of course, the leper recognizes that the decision is ultimately up to Jesus, but he is certain that healing is possible with Jesus.

And Jesus, approached by the leper in such faith, needed no time to contemplate his decision; he simply answered, “I will.” The verse goes on to say that “immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” In just one short moment and the touch of Jesus’ hand, the leper’s life was changed forever; his body literally became a new creation. It was such a radical healing, yet it was so simple. The man approached Jesus with complete faith, and Jesus simply said yes. It makes me wonder, what if we approached God with this kind of great faith and humility? Would he do something radical in our lives? Would our lives be forever changed? I believe the answer would be, “Yes!”

Just think of how the leper’s transformation must have glorified God! His life was evidence that God could completely change anyone. What if we as Christians could be walking, breathing, living proof of God’s transforming power, just like the leper? We could stop striving to find ways to glorify God through our own strength because our very own lives would be a testament to His great power and glory! Our faces would light up with joy, and we could shine God’s light to the world as we become proof (like the leper did) that God hears the cries of the broken, and he heals them and makes them new.  Psalm 34:4-5 reflects this truth: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”

That is definitely something that I want for myself and my fellow believers. But the question is, will we let him do this kind of work in us? Are we willing to take that step of submission and place our lives in his hands? Will we come to him in humility, brokenness, and true faith, asking him to work a miracle in our life? If we do, Jesus will not disappoint. He will not hesitate to reach out to us, touch us, and say, “I will.” Jesus wants us to come to him, and he wants to say yes when we ask things in his will. However, it takes action, just as it did with the leper. We must come to him ready to be forever changed for his glory, not holding back anything from him.

And we do not need to fear approaching the Lord, just as the leper did not hesitate to approach him. The leper walked right up to Jesus, knowing that his physical condition was considered highly contagious (and repulsive) by most. Nonetheless, Jesus reached right out to him and touched him! Jesus will do the same for us, even in our spiritually leprous condition. In fact, the desperate, lonely, sinful, and broken are who he came to save. God is not like us human beings, who like to hang out with the cool people and overlook everyone else. Jesus is quite the opposite. He will be the best friend to a sinner who no one else can stand to be around. He will gladly put his arm around the outcasts and show them how worthy they are.

In my life I have sometimes been one of those people who felt like an outcast. I have felt like I wasn’t good enough for God, that I disappointed him a lot, and that I didn’t have a whole lot to offer him. And as the years have passed by, I have thought that maybe it was just a little too late for God to transform me.  But I now see that those are just lies that don’t have any place in the life of a person filled with faith. I have been praying, as the disciples did, Lord, “Increase [my] faith!” (Luke 17:5). And true to his heart, he said, “I will.” And he absolutely did.

God can take people who seem hopeless and turn their lives around. He can perform miracles in our lives and urge us on to do good works for his kingdom and his glory. However, we must come to him in faith, and we must let his power work through us instead of trying to do things in our own strength. This is how God will be glorified. 2 Corinthians 2:4 states, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” May God bless you and me as we walk in faith today, fragile as clay jars, but filled with such power and hope.

 

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