I Want To.

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you want to, you can make me well again,” he said. Moved with pity, Jesus touched him. “I want to,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared — the man was healed. — Mark 1: 40-42

The man suffered from a condition that impaired his nervous system, causing him to lose all sensation of pain. But, this was only on the physical level. 

Today, leprosy can be treated. But during Jesus’ time, there was no cure. Those who became ill were quarantined and colonized. They were taken beyond the walls of the city and removed from their place in society. They were called unclean. They were left for dead.

Deformities would set in as a result of injury left unattended. Fingers and toes would fall off. Infection would ravage through the body with no antibiotic to fight it. The only solution was to bandage the affected areas for covering. The bloodstream, poisoned, transported sickness throughout the members. One could only hope for death. 

It’s hard to imagine the man’s frame of mind when he approached Jesus since I’ve been mostly well physically throughout my life. We sort of boast about rarely getting sick when others get sick, and never having to undergo a surgery. Because of our wellness of all things, we are emotionally detached from this man and others who suffered with him. 

We fall and it hurts, but our hearts are so closed. We struggle with lack of feeling there. This man could fall and not feel hurt, but his heart was wide open, screaming in pain. He’d lost himself, his essence, to leprosy. But he had not lost his soul. We lose our souls. 

He broke social custom coming to Jesus — it was forbidden for him to blend with the people of the city. If it was obvious as he walked the streets to find Jesus that he was a leper, it must have caused a stir. People  gasping out of disgust, darting from his path, staring at him in fear. 

He fell to his knees before Jesus, desperate. We don’t like to beg. We tell our pets not to beg. If I have to beg, we say, then it’s not worth it. Why debase ourselves that way, we think. To be pitied or been seen as pitiful is to curse ourselves. Who wants to be seen that way? I’m not a charity case. 

Odd how desperation awakens some things and puts others to rest. The desire for help – awake. The desire to be seen as strong, capable, put together — put to rest. 

I know you can do this, Jesus. I don’t know you as well as I’d like, but I trust your power to heal this mess bandaged in bloody rags. We’ve never talked before, but my heart tells me you care. If you would touch me, though no one else would, I believe that all of this would go away. 

“If you want to, you can make me well again.”

Then, to match the audacity of the leper, Jesus raised his hand to connect with the man. He touched the unclean thing that must not be touched. Who would think that a loving touch would send chills down the vertebrae of many? He reached out to the dismay of the crowd that must have formed by this time. His wellness flooding into sickness. Perfection holding on to brokenness. At that moment, mysteriously their lives were intertwined. Then Jesus spoke.

“I want to.” 

Jesus could have said so much more. But, what he was feeling at the sight of this man moved him so deeply that maybe this was all he could say at the moment. He might have said it through tears. We’re told he was moved with pity. What we’re really being told is Jesus became angry. 

He wasn’t angry with the leper. This was not an imposition for Jesus, the man through his amazing faith showed every well person in the city a glorious thing. The anger was directed more at the root cause of the sickness. The swelling in Jesus’ heart came from the suffering sin brought into the world. He looked upon this man, on his knees, having become a faded image of what he once was and righteous anger surfaced. 

It’s this anger that makes Jesus the Hero. The Savior. Anger at wrongs and injustices. Anger at disease and ruin. Anger at broken hearts, broken lives. Sin’s hold on the human race and the Earth itself brought out the best in Jesus and at his best was holy anger, causing change.

Jesus wanted to heal this leper. And, he wants to heal us all of the suffering sin brings into our lives. Let us lower ourselves as the leper did. Realize our sickness. Reach out to him with faith. He’ll reach out in return.


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