While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him (Luke 5:12-13).
Have you ever thought about why the leper’s first words to Jesus were: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Another translation uses the words “If you wish?” It seems to me that by using these words, the leper wasn’t sure if Jesus really wanted to heal him. It seems to me also that he was giving him the option not to heal him.
Why was this so? First of all leprosy is highly contagious, secondly he was considered to be ritually unclean. He was forced to live in a leper colony populated only by people with the same frightful disease. isolated from other people. In fact, when a leper approached anyone they had to shout “Unclean, unclean.” So although he seemed to have the faith to believe that Jesus could heal him, it is not surprising, because of his own sense of unworthiness, that he was not sure Jesus would want to heal him. How wonderful was Jesus’ response. “I am willing” and he healed him.
Well, fortunately none of us have leprosy, but much like leprosy our sins can make us feel unclean and unworthy, especially when we are asking for healing for ourselves or others. They can tell us that change is impossible. They can shape the way we look at ourselves and even the way we look at and approach God. In other words, our thinking can be like that of the leper. Perhaps, there are times when we do think that way, but when we do it is because we are forgetting what our Heavenly Father and Jesus are really like and how they view us.
They love us unconditionally. We know that God the Father gave up his only Son to free us from sin and make us whole. Every time we look at the cross, we can see how much our Lord values us. We can be filled with hope that when we cry out to the Lord he hears us. We have great dignity! And that means that we have a future! It means that we can rise above any sense of shame or guilt or unworthiness that holds us down when we come to the Lord for forgiveness and wholeness.
No matter what your state is right now, no matter what your circumstances are, we have these great promises from God:
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
Are you ready to confidently approach the throne of grace with your needs? Are you ready to believe that Jesus not only can heal you, but that he also wants to heal you? Here’s an experiment to try this week. During a time of prayer, picture yourself coming to Jesus as the leper did. Offer him whatever is burdening you, and ask him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can heal me.” Then stay there, looking at Jesus and letting him look at you. Quiet your heart and mind until you hear Jesus say back to you, “I do will it. Be healed.”
Don’t let this experiment stop with this week. We are beloved sons of our Heavenly Father. Let’s continue to confidently approach the Lord’s throne of grace, and with expectant faith, present our needs to him.
Maurice Blumberg is a Trustee of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.catholicmensresources.org//) and Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to Servicemen and Prisoners for The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/).
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us for allowing us to adapt material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- 1. The title of this article is “Do You Believe Jesus Wants to Heal You?” How would you answer this question?
- 2. Why do you think the leper qualified his crying out to Jesus with “If you are willing?” In what way are you like the leper? How are you different?
- 3. Why is sin often compared to the disease of leprosy, when it comes to its impact on our spiritual health?
- 4. The article goes on to say that when we allow our sins to keep us from approaching the Lord with expectant faith, it is because “we are forgetting what our Heavenly Father and Jesus are really like and how they view us.” Do you agree with this? Why or why not?
- 5. Do you view God the Father and Jesus as “cops in the sky” ready to pour out their wrath on us every time we sin or screw up, or as a loving Father and a merciful Savior ready to forgive and heal us every time we come to them? Why is having the right understanding of the character of God so important? Why is belief in the promises of Ephesians 3:12 and Hebrews 4:16 also important as well?
- 6. If you are willing, try the experiment described in the article and share the results of it with another brother in Christ. If you are in a men’s group, share the results at your next meeting.