“Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”Luke 5:12, NIV
Jesus spent a lot of time traveling from town to town, teaching in the synagogues and to the crowds. And healing. He spent a lot of time healing those in need. And Luke tells us of a man who was in dire need of healing. In one of the towns Jesus traveled to, he met a with leprosy. (It’s not known if this was leprosy as we know it today or some other form of skin disease.) This man not only had leprosy; he was covered with it. He couldn’t have been a pretty sight.
Leprosy affects the nerves. White patches or sores can appear on the skin: the face, the arms, the legs, the torso, the bottom of one’s feet, even the earlobes. The hair can turn white. One can become blind. The fingers, toes, and nose can become deformed. As I said, not pretty. And not easy to live with.
Added to the man’s physical distress would be the social ostracization, the pain of not having any human contact. No one wanted to catch such a dread disease, so people would avoid him. Totally. He would no longer have been allowed to live with family; instead, he would have joined others forced to live on the edge of the town. Unable to work with others, he would have been reduced to begging.
And by Jewish law, he would have been labeled “unclean.” He couldn’t attend the synagogue. He couldn’t offer sacrifices. He couldn’t have participated in any of the ceremonies that marked the life of one of God’s chosen people.
People didn’t die from leprosy, but there was no cure for it at that time either. This would be his life for what would seem like forever.
No wonder he turned to Jesus.
Yet in his desperation, his plea was fairly simple: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” But appearances can be deceiving. There is a lot to learn from his “simple” request.
He first acknowledges Jesus’s position. Jesus was Lord. Kyrios. Master. HELPS-Word Studies describes “lord” as “a person exercising absolute ownership rights.” And Thayer’s Greek Lexicon explains the term as someone who owns someone or something and “about which he has the power of deciding.” We Americans are known for putting a high value on our independence, on our individual rights. But Paul reminds us that that is not really the case: “You are not your own; you were bought with a price” (I Corinthians 6:20, NIV). This man knew that Jesus was the one who had the right to decide his fate. Do I acknowledge Jesus’s right to do as He wants with my life?
This man so in need of healing also knew that Jesus had the power to heal him. He didn’t say, “Jesus, I hope you’ll be able to do this.” He didn’t say “if you can.” He said, “you can.” When I pray, do I do so truly believing that God has the power to answer my prayers? Or am I like the doubter that James spoke of, “like a wave of the sea, blowen and tossed by the wind”? (James 1:8, NIV)He also acknowledged that his future would depend on Jesus’s preference, not his own. He obviously wanted healing. Who wouldn’t? Most of us have asked for healing for sicknesses much less severe than leprosy. Yet, in spite of his intense desire to be healed, he was willing to leave the decision to Jesus: “if you are willing,” he said. Am I willing to leave the answers to my prayers in Jesus’s hands? Can I be content to let Him have His way with me?
What about you? What is it you are asking the Lord to do for you today? What is your dire need?
As you come to Him, do you do so acknowledging Him as Lord? Do you come believing He has the power to heal? The power to heal physically, spiritually, emotionally? The power to accomplish whatever it is you need? Do you come to Him willing to accept whatever His answer may be?
Soul Refreshers for your week:
- Lay your heart open to the Lord this week. Be honest with Him—and with yourself. What are your dire needs? Your deepest desires? You can bet He already knows, so just be willing to talk to Him openly about them.
- As you think about and pray about these things, focus on the fact that He is Lord. He is your Lord. Praise God that He is a loving Lord and Master, that He knows and wants what is best for you.
- In your prayers, praise God and thank Him for His “incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:19, NIV). Remember that He can use that power to answer your prayers.
- But don’t forget what may be the hardest part. Turn over to Him the decision as to how He should answer your prayers. “Lord, if you are willing…”
- Doing so requires trust. Do you trust that He knows what is best for you?
- Do you trust that He wants what is best for you?
- Do you trust that He is able to bring about what is best for you?
- Then yield the decision making to Him and rest in the knowledge that He is in control.
Is there something we can pray about for you? Or are there ways God has answered your prayers differently than you expected? Please share with us so we can praise God with you and pray to God for you.