When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
This is a wonderful story that I love to share, especially at healing retreats, because it tells of Jesus’ willingness to heal all of us who are sick. In this story, a leper goes to sees Jesus. Leprosy in Jesus’ time was an incurable disease and lepers were ostracized by the community. Luke’s description of this leper suggests he was in an advanced stage of the disease. Consequently, he was facing imminent death. He hears about Jesus and the miracles he is performing and wonders if he might be healed too. The only lepers he had ever heard of being healed was a guy called Naaman (see 2 Kings 5) and Moses’ sister, Miriam (see Numbers 2:1-16). But who knows? He just might be the third.
So, he goes to Jesus. Now, remember, he is not allowed, by law, to come closer than six feet to anyone. We didn’t invent social distancing. There was a chance the crowd would beat him up savagely if he broke that law, but his desire to be healed overcame his fear and he rushed at Jesus. Before anybody could stop him, he threw himself at Jesus’ feet, and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, heal me!” The crowd would have instantly recoiled, but then they recoiled even more at what Jesus did. You know what he did? He reached out and TOUCHED the leper, while the leper still had leprosy!
This is a point that we often miss, but there is a tremendous lesson here for all of us. There is a longing in every human being for physical intimacy. Newborn babies struggle to gain weight and grow without the human touch. But infants who experience a lot of contact are happier. Their body temperatures regulates almost constantly and their immune system becomes strong. In recent times, we have become a people fearful of physical contact. This is largely due to violations to our body. Now, because of Covid-19, we have stopped physical contact altogether. Without this, we often become depressed and suicidal. There are scientific studies that prove this.
So, what can we do? Well, I can’t tell you to hug each other, but I CAN tell you to hug Jesus. “How?”, you ask. “I can’t see him.” Well, God has given us an imagination for a reason and we can use it to go to him and embrace him. Before you say you can’t do this, can I remind you of those times you fantasized about embracing the person you loved. If we can do it with them, we can do it with Jesus, no? And in this embrace we will find healing, not just for our bodies, but also for our broken hearts, our troubled minds, and our wounded spirits as well.
Let me tell you what I do. When I start to feel the blues, I go and sit on our Father’s lap and rest my head on his chest. I don’t feel the need to say anything — he already knows what’s in my heart — and I know, as he wraps his arms around me, that he will fix whatever is wrong, if not immediately, then in his time. But fix it he will. And after a few minutes I feel much better. Who don’t you try doing that today? Go sit on our Father’s lap and let him hold you for a while. You’ll find that a lot of things that are troubling you today start to fade away.
And, while you’re there tell him I said hello.