What leper have you tried to avoid, fearing their disease might get on you?
When we find ourselves appalled at the sins of others, I’m afraid we have stepped into the very familiar suit of The Pharisee. Strange thing is, it kind of fits all too well.
We would never admit it but often we slide right back into that religious suit. Forgetting how far we all have fallen from grace at times.
This leads me to Jesus on the cross.
Two men are on each side of him. All three are about to be crucified. One of the criminals begins to spew arrogance with his words.
Forgetting where He was it seems, He began to say to Jesus, If you are God then deliver us. Get us down from here. Call upon your superpowers and rid us of what we are about to face and go through.
I wondered about this man. What was it that caused his heart to be so jaded? So arrogant. Arrogance is often the disguise for insecurity and uncertainty.
You would think in his position He would be so humble and yet he wasn’t. Sometimes we think because someone is in a position of pain or vulnerability that they are humble. Not necessarily. At times, it just heightens and magnifies what has been there all along.
Ironically, the guy on the other side. The thief. Yep, He was a thief too. He rebukes the other criminal and says, Do you not even fear God? Recognizing how this guy has zero amount of acknowledgment of God.
He may fear death, He may have feared being punished in his life but reverential fear of God was not what he possessed? None. He wanted relief only. No insight. No encounter that would change his heart.
It was only his position he was concerned about getting changed. Saving his own skin.
The thief? Totally opposite. He was thinking eternally. Humbly about his position and what got him there. He is longing for more in life. It wasn’t just about being delivered. I believe if we could get in his head it was about longing to be found.
He was aware of how lost He was. He was humbled by whose presence He was in. He acknowledged his sin and acknowledged the innocence of Jesus. This thief begins to think about the kingdom.
Jesus addresses him when He asks for him to remember him. Today, he says, you will be with me in paradise. Jesus touched him with his words of comfort and assurance reassuring him where He would be.
I believe as Jesus said this to this man he consequently caused the spiritual leprosy he had experienced to dissipate.
Scripture doesn’t say that, just my own thoughts. I believe the shame and condemnation this man carried because of his sin was swallowing him up.
He had already paid so much. There is nothing sweeter than grace upon the lips of someone who sees their need for it. He knew He needed a savior.
The other man hurled insults. The difference? One embraced his poverty of spirit the other despised it. One saw his need to be saved, the other insulted the only one who could save him.
But because of his great love for us. God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved.Ephesians 2:4-5
It Applies to Us All
We have all been a leper at some point in our life. Knowing we needed healing but bankrupt in finding it, like Adam and Eve we hide.
Lepers hide. They hurt. Fearing more rejection they reject first. It’s true that hurting people hurt people and the magnitude of those festering wounds left unhealed breed infection affecting the body. Bodies that are leprous can affect entire communities.
This is why they choose to be quarantined. They seem safer, appear to be out of harm’s way but all along they are suffering alone. Privately.
With no one to administer healing they try as best they can to heal themselves or each other. Saddened by the fact of the leprosy just spreading amongst them.
Highly contagious, they fear affecting people way more than infecting people.
Isn’t that what happens when someone has blown it?
They blow it and rather than come into the house for healing they hide. They are so fearful of how their sin has affected everyone they are now infected from festering wounds.
When God Enters
Festering wounds reek of disease and no one wants to touch someone diseased. But one does. Jesus. Come to me all ye who are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Rest for your souls. Rest for your body. Healing from every disease.
Fear not. I am your mighty shield and great physician. There is nothing too difficult for me. There is nothing that can drive you from my presence. People may reject you.
They may look the other way because they don’t know what to say, let alone what to do because of your condition but I don’t. I come right to that place, the place you tried to cover up.
That place that you tried to shut up, it cried out from within you. In a moment, I ran to you, not from you. Nothing you did or will ever do can separate you from me. You are my beloved and I am your healer.
I am unchanging. I rise to your voice when you call my name. Only ask. And keep asking. I am not perplexed by your condition and I don’t wince at it.
People might but I don’t. I will heal your wounds and bind them up. Your diseased places will be healed.
Nothing in me is ever repulsed by the brokenness of my people. My heart aches to heal them. My works were finished from the cross. When I said, It is finished. My work on the cross was complete. Nothing was incomplete.
So, the next time you encounter a sinner who seems despicable, remember me.
Remember the thief on the cross. Let grace flow through you just like it did when it came to you. Un-earned, undeserved. Just mercy.