Matthew chapter 8 starts out with one of my favorite stories.
8 “When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy[a] came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”’
I like this story because I identify with the leper. I don’t have leprosy but I do have a deadly highly contagious condition that I cannot cure myself from. No one can. No one, except Jesus. The condition is sin. I have sin in my life.
In second or third grade I stole a green plastic army truck from my friend Miles Hancock. It was premeditated and well planned out. He had it, I wanted it. I took it.
Even if I could find Miles, repent and replace that truck right now, my act of thievery wouldn’t go away. I am forever stained with that sin.
This leper had a condition hat made him an outcast. He had to leave his family and friends. He could no longer be a part of society. He couldn’t worship. He was excluded from life. He had to live a life separated from people. He had to walk down the street yelling “unclean!” So people would know to stay away.
Jesus touched him. He was untouchable yet Jesus touched him and healed him. “If you are willing…” Jesus was willing to touch, cleanse, heal and restore this man. But Why? Why would Jesus be willing to touch this diseased man and risk contamination?
What about me, The truck thief, What is to become of me? Why would God have anything to do with someone who would break rules and violate trust?
Love. Love is the reason.
“16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Between God and me there is gap, a break in our relationship. I broke a rule by stealing. I have become a thief. I am a sinner. But now I have confessed my sin and asked God to forgive me and because I have accepted Jesus death as payment for my sin. God has forgiven me. Because he loves me he forgives me. Because he loves me, he sent his son to die in my place for sins I committed. Because he loved the man with leprosy he touched him. Because he loves me. He reached out to me. With that simple transaction I am made right with God again. Because he loves us, because he loves you, he reaches out to us today.
“9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Then there is the practical side. I took something that didn’t belong to me.
Miles, if you are out there I am sorry. I don’t have the truck anymore. Contact me so I can make amends. I need to make some kind of restitution.
(Originally posted 1/30/17 edited to add the love 1/30/2020)