The Fellowship of This Misery

Severe case of Leprosy
“In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Luke 5:12, NLT

Let’s jump right into this passage from Luke 5.  A very sick man desires to become well.  The Bible text reveals that his condition is agonizingly desperate.  His leprosy has advanced; he is covered with it from ‘head-to-toe.’  He is completely infected; he is ‘unclean’ and without hope. There is no treatment for what he has, doctors can do nothing, so he comes to Jesus.

We must emphasize this, the leper has no illusions of wholeness.  He knows it; he doesn’t need to be convinced, or persuaded by anyone else.  It occurs to him, that Jesus the healer (of lepers, and the like) may provide healing, or at the least a morsel of comfort.  This leper approaches the presence of Jesus, with such humility it is almost painful to witness. This man is completely broken; he has no hope, except Jesus.

There is a fellowship of misery–some of us are “card-carrying” members.

Our diseases differ, but they have affected us completely.  Our pain, and our darkness vary.  Some have physical pain, others have a mental illness.  When we meet, there should be a secret handshake or a password. We share a comradeship— we are all part of the same community.  We are a broken club of tired and decidedly unclean misfits.

How do we measure our pain and desperate darkness?  What do we use to measure it? For the most part, our lives have been destroyed. I think we can understand it by looking up at Jesus.  Lying in the dirt, we believe the unbelievable.  Our faith doesn’t activate his healing as much it guides it to our greatest need.  The presence of Jesus drives away the pain.  His love for us echoes into our emptiness. And he wants to do this!  He has come for us. He carries us through this.

I struggle with deep depression and despondency.  I have been on meds for a long time.  But when I come into Jesus’ presence, all this melancholy is driven out. He comes and injects a true hope into my spirit.  Am I a stellar example of perfect discipleship?  I think not.  (My wife could tell you this.)  But isn’t about us becoming “angels”, it’s about us becoming intimate with Jesus.

“The power of the Church is not a parade of flawless people, but of a flawless Christ who embraces our flaws. The Church is not made up of whole people, rather of the broken people who find wholeness in a Christ who was broken for us.”   

–Mike Yaconelli

The leper would be healed by the authority (and touch) of Jesus Christ. What is impossible with men, is possible with God.

“Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.” (v. 13)

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A Puppet, or Your Sovereign Prince?

“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.”

–Luke 5:12, NLT

This man, an infectious leper, approaches Jesus. The Lord looking at him (most people would avert their gaze) asked simply, “What do you want?”  There was no hesitancy as he falls at Jesus’ feet.  “Please!  Make me clean, if you want to.”  His beautiful prayer of absolute surrender and trust sets up the staggering miracle.

There are so many plagued with personal sin-– and its like leprosy, it started out small, hardly noticeable.  But time and opportunity has caused it to spread through the whole body.  The man now lived among the unclean.  He has been utterly infected, and totally consumed by his disease. It has taken over his body, and his life.

His prayer exposes his desperate humility.  It is Jesus’ decision completely.  The man does not demand, or challenge Jesus.  So many try to make it an issue of Jesus proving his power and deity.  The man has lost all willingness to manipulate and control the healing process. He has been stripped of his power in this matter.

Much of the time, when I come before Jesus in prayer, I come with my checklist.  I build my case around things I have done to deserve my request.  (I’m very stupid sometimes.)  I don’t say it, but I’m trying to earn an answer by my effort.  We still try to achieve spiritual blessings by works.

What I need to do, is to throw myself at the feet of Jesus.  I need to plead for mercy.  Scripture has revealed to us that God draws close to the humble and contrite. “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”

There are no hoops to jump through.  There are no vows you can make so that it will happen. There are no deals to make. “(If you do this for me, I  promise never to swear again.)” But it is grace, from start-to-finish.  It raises havoc with our built-in sense of spiritual entitlement.  Personally, the grace of God has been the most profound, and significant concept I have ever encountered.

It’s all about a simple, childlike trust in the Savior.  He is always good and merciful.  I will exercise no agenda of my own.  I will pull no spiritual strings, He is not my puppet.  Instead I put myself at His feet, and wait for Him to do what He wishes. Is Jesus your puppet, or is He your Prince?