MADE TOTALLY CLEAN
Lord, Your compassion continues to amaze us.
Read LUKE 5:12–16
Jesus Heals a Man With Leprosy
12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy.[a] 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.”
13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
14 Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
a Luke 5:12 The Greek word traditionally translated leprosy was used for various diseases affecting the skin.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“I am coming, Lord, / coming now to thee. / Wash me, cleanse me in the blood, / that flowed on Calvary” (Lewis Hartsough, 1828–1919).
Healing a person with leprosy? Unimaginable! Unheard of since the cleansing of Naaman, 1,000 years before (2 Kings 5:1–14)—which Jesus had pointedly mentioned not long before (Luke 4:27). Leprosy is a fearful condition, both deﬁling and destructive—and millions still suffer from it today. In Jesus’ day, people with leprosy were banished from home, temple, and community, forced to wear rags, cover their faces and cry “unclean” (Lev. 13:45). They rendered anyone approaching them unclean. Here, the status of Jesus and the man with leprosy are reversed. This cleansed man could re-enter society. Jesus now excludes himself from society, accepting the sufferer’s fate (16). This is the Gospel in miniature. Jesus’ rejection by society gradually dominates Luke’s narrative. He ﬁnally dies, forgiving sinners while they are given life.
Some modern Bibles avoid the terms “leper” and “leprosy” in favor of “dreaded skin condition,” partly because the Mosaic law encompassed other skin conditions (Lev. 13), but mostly because of the social stigma attached to the words. Does this euphemism obscure the signiﬁcance of what Jesus did (12)? When translating Luke in a country where leprosy still occurs, my local colleagues thought these different words unnecessary, when they have a perfectly good word for “leper.” They all know how dehumanizing the disease is. Understanding the signiﬁcance of what Jesus has done, we have agreed to use their single word.
This healing cleanses both body and mind. It removes social stigma. It destroys the barrier which has denied the former leper access to God through the covenant ceremonies, the only means at that time for forgiveness of sin. Jesus has done no less for us. He has, as Isaiah foretold, taken our pain and borne our suffering (Isa. 53:4). We are no longer unclean, excluded from access to God.
“Grant us therefore… that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body… and that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us” (Prayer of Humble Access, Book of Common Prayer, 1662).
Lord, thank You for doing for us on a broader scale what You did for this leper. Like him, we have been cleansed by Your healing touch.
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