Jesus Is Willing
Chan Gin Kai
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 15:12)
Leprosy is an infectious disease that causes severe disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage. Extremities of the body like the fingers, toes, noses and ears would often rot, and drop off. According to the Law of Moses, a priest would examine a person suspected of leprosy, and if the person were confirmed to have leprosy he would be quarantined and cast out of society. According to the Talmud (a collection of writings that covers all of Jewish laws and traditions), a leper could not come within 4 cubits (about 2 metres) of an Israelite, and if there was an east wind blowing, the leper had to stay 100 cubits (46 metres) away. They were to cry out “unclean, unclean”, if anyone got close, and wear special bells, so that people knew they were around and could keep away. The rabbis saw it as a chastisement by God for moral issues, and lepers were thus scorned by society. Anyone with leprosy was regarded as a dead person.
So when the leper came to Jesus, his question was not “if you are able”, but “if you are willing”. He had already heard about Jesus’ ability to heal, and he had no doubt in Jesus’ power. But he doubted Jesus’ willingness. He was ugly with sores and deformities. He had being cast out by his family and society. Everyone despised him. He might even have believed, like what the rabbis taught, that his condition was a punishment from God. He was ashamed and wondered if Jesus would be willing to heal someone like him. And he didn’t just hope to be healed; he said to Jesus, “You can make me clean”. He felt spiritually and emotionally dirty, and wanted to be clean again.
We often approach God with the same doubts. We’re fully aware of His powers. We’ve only got to look up into the sky and ponder a little on the immensity of the universe to remove any doubts of His omnipotence. No, we don’t really doubt God’s ability, but I believe we’ve all doubted His willingness before. Like the leper, we allow the selfishness of the world to influence our understanding of God. We’ve seen conditional love and favouritism. We’ve been assessed on our value and treated according to our perceived worth. We’ve even felt neglected and unprotected by loved ones before. These experiences colour our perception of God and His love for us. We assume that God is like everyone else.
There are also times when we feel spiritually ugly and deformed. We feel bad because of our sins, and our guilt gets the better of us. We don’t feel deserving of love, or worthy of grace. We forget that ‘grace’, by definition, is unmerited favour from God, and it wouldn’t be called ‘grace’ if we deserve it.
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. (Luke 15:13)
Jesus didn’t have to touch a person to heal the person. But he wanted to touch this leper. This outcast had been shunned and unloved, and had not been touched by another human being for years. The touch physically healed the man, but more importantly, it was a touch that showed him love.
The world may think you unworthy, you may find yourself undeserving, and God sees all of your weaknesses too. But God is not like us. He is able to love you despite all of your failures. He is the God of the strong and the weak, the victors and the defeated, the righteous and the sinners. Bring your prayers to God. He is willing, because He loves you.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".