|Pic: From the internet|
“Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. ‘Lord,’ the man said, ‘if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.’ Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be healed!’ And instantly the leprosy disappeared” (Matthew 8:1-3, NLT).
Maybe you have had read this story before. Maybe too familiar that you might lost it’s significant. I do, from time to time. It sounds like a very ordinary story – until you understand what Jesus has done. First, what does leprosy look like? We know that it’s a dreaded skin decease but only few of us have really met a “leper.” Greek-geek students probably have studied the word intensively and preachers might preached it many times before but still don’t know how to relate to it today. I’ve never seen lepers around Kuching area frequently. The word “leprosy” has become hijacked by religious haze that we hardly have a proper reaction to it other than, “Kesian nyer orang ini” (“Pity him”). That’s all.
Secondly, what are the Jewish attitude toward those infected with leprosy during Jesus’ time? Well, based on the Old Testament, particularly in Leviticus 13:45-46, those who suffer leprosy “must tear their clothing and leave their hair uncombed. They must cover their mouth and call out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as the serious decease lasts, they will be ceremonially unclean. They must live in isolation in their place outside the camp.” Anyone who come in contact with the leper physically will be considered as unclean. To make the case worst, anyone who get within a stone’s throw from the leper was to jeopardize their own righteousness, holiness and reputation.
But like I said earlier on, most of us never really have met a leper before. So, how can we “experience” this story? Try this: substitute “leprosy” with AIDS. At least, we have seen them on TV or read about AIDS in newspaper and radio programmes. Think of public attitude – your attitude – toward AIDS patients. Those bursting cloud of stigmas, ocean of intolerance and desert of unending prejudices toward people with AIDS. I even heard some people are afraid to go to their dentist or donating blood or shaking hand with patients for fear of catching AIDS somehow. Afraid that they will become “unclean”, don’t want to risk their own self-righteousness, and fear of what people will think and say. Ignorance and even religious-conformity have shut our eyes, ears and hearts from knowing the truth about AIDS. Last stages of AIDS – emaciated body, nearly bald, wheezing, face ravaged by ulcers – maybe similar with leprosy. But unlike leprosy, AIDS decease cannot be transmit through touching, breathing and sharing of food.
“Lord,” said the man. He comes near Jesus but not too near, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” What does Jesus do? Running away? Stoned the man? Avoided the man because his righteousness and reputation were at stake here? No. Jesus reached and touches him. Jesus reached the man with leprosy (we now imagine “the man with AIDS”) and – touches him! Mind you, Jesus don’t need to touches him in order to heal him, Jesus can just say the word and he will be healed. Yet, Jesus touches him. Why? Because this is the one thing the man needs – a human touch. No one has touched him for a very looooooong time but Jesus did! This is true for all people that we ought to helps – the needy, the poor, the orphanage, the widow, the sick, the old folks, the AIDS patients – they are starving more for human touch than their need for our money, food, program and prayers. Jesus now was considered as “unclean” but he doesn’t care. He care more about touching people’s lives. Jesus is God entering human’s life and get involves. Jesus Emmanuel, God with us. We gives a human touch and through us Jesus gives divine touch in their lives.
There is no other man like him, follow his examples and get involve in people’s lives.
There is no God so kind and loving like him, worship him alone.
Jesus, I love you. Amen.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.