The God who is Willing

The God who Is Willing

Matthew 8:1-4

Jesus stretched His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.”

 

            Of all the circumstances a person might encounter during the time of Christ, one of the gravest was Leprosy.  The disease not only wreaked havoc upon a person’s health and body, it would isolate them from all family and loved ones.   While there is some debate regarding the specific diagnosis of the disease, it seems that leprosy mentioned in the Bible was related to Hansen’s disease.  Leprosy often began with the appearance of white specs on the eyelids and palms and would gradually spread over the whole body.  As the infection grew, it would cause the flesh to become rotten and would destroy the nerves so that the individual could no longer feel pain.  As a result, the lepers often lose the tips of their fingers and toes.  But the most devastating part of the disease was the isolation that it caused.  A person with leprosy was to live outside the city and was to maintain no close contact with the individual.  He was required to cry “unclean, unclean” whenever he encountered others.  As a result, the person would not have any contact with family and friends.  It was literally to be treated as the living dead. 

            What is surprising in the passage before us is that the leper approached Jesus even though there were large crowds around him.  This act would not only have resulted in the crowds angrily shouting at him to go away but also risked the rejection and condemnation of Christ.  Undeterred by the possible consequences, the man's faith is seen in his desire to gain an audience with Christ.  When he approaches Christ, he demonstrates his affirmation of the deity of Christ (calling him “Lord”) and his humility and submission to Christ.  He cries, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.”  This was not a statement of doubt about Christ's ability, for he affirms that Christ can heal him.  The man's confidence in Christ's ability is remarkable,  for during this time, people regarded the healing of lepers as challenging as raising someone from the dead.  The question relates to the willingness of Christ to heal.  The question reveals a trust that Christ will choose to do what is according to the will of God.  In his simple statement, the man told both his confidence and trust in the power of God and his faith and surrender to God's will. 

            In response to his request, Jesus answered with words that elicited all the hope of man.  After living without hope in the darkest circumstances possible, he was assured that Christ would heal his broken and disease-ridden body. For the first time since the disease symptoms first appeared, there was the arrival of Hope home.  Then with a mere spoken word, his body was completely healed of the leprosy. 

            Throughout the story, we see an example of the essence of faith.  Faith is trusting in both God's power and the wisdom of God’s sovereignty.  It is to recognize that God can do everything but trust in him to do what is best, even when it does not correspond to our perspective.   Faith is seeing the power of God but trusting him to do what is right regardless of the outcome.  It is one thing to trust in God’s ability; it is another to surrender to God’s will and purpose completely.  He was willing to remain a leper if that was the will of Christ. When we encounter adversity, we need to learn the same principle that trust in God is trusting in his ability and trusting him to do what he deems best so that regardless of the outcome of the circumstances, we will remain steadfast in our obedience to Christ.  It is this faith that Christ is always willing to reward. 

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