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"Does He Want To?" (posted September 14, 2017)

   Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.
   - Mark 1:40-42

To really get the emotion of this scene, we should start with the depth of despair that a diagnosis of leprosy brought. The leprosy of Bible times could not be treated medically. It disfigured and rotted the skin and extremities of those who suffered from it. And because it was so contagious, those with leprosy were shunned from the community.

So here comes a man with leprosy. He doesn't even have an identity anymore except for the disease-- he's simply "a leper." The proliferating sores covering his body make him look and smell repulsive. He lives alone, abandoned by friends and family. He is essentially waiting to die, and as he waits he suffers physically, mentally, and emotionally every day until the end.

When he approaches Jesus, he is spent. In Luke's account of the story, he falls on his face as he implores and begs the Lord for help. Hear the anguish in his voice! "Lord!" he cries. "If you are willing, I know you can make me clean..."

When he said, "You can," it meant he was absolutely convinced that Jesus was able. This is striking, for it reveals his faith that Jesus had a power which no one else had. Yet he is uncertain about something else, and the entire scene hinges on this: He's not sure if Jesus is willing. The emotion here would make an onlooker weep. From the dust, the leper says to Jesus, "I know You can... but I just don't know if You want to."

Do you trust in God's power but question His heart? Do you believe He is mighty but wonder if He has forgotten you? Let this Scripture wash over you in its tender beauty as Jesus, filled with compassion, says, "Oh, yes, I want to! Be clean!" He touches the man-- the first touch he has felt in years-- and immediately the disease is gone.

Then Jesus turns to you, too, and He says, "Yes, I want to! I am full of compassion for you! Come near, and I will touch you and change your life with a power that no one else has."

Stephen Campbell

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