“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, “Unclean, unclean.” He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.”
These are extremely humbling verses, particularly when you put yourself in the shoes of someone who has leprosy. To have this disease means that you wear torn clothes, you don’t cut your hair, and anytime anyone comes near you, you cry out, “Unclean, unclean.” As long as you have this disease you are considered unclean and you are told to live alone outside the camp. To add in a sense insult to injury, not only do you have this disease now that’s affecting your physical body, but socially you are totally isolated. Now there were reasons for this, even health reasons for this.
Christ did not avoid the leper but went to Him. Christ redeems us and makes vile sinners clean.
The book of Leviticus, and we see the same thing in Numbers, but that doesn’t take away from the humbling and saddening effects of leprosy in one’s life or in somebody you love. Now they are separated from the rest of the people, living alone outside the camp. You can just imagine the challenges that go with having leprosy in the book of Leviticus. Into that kind of picture, I cannot think about the book of Luke. Luke chapter five, verse 12 talks about Jesus walking into a city and there was a man full of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord if you will you can make me clean.”
What I love is Luke chapter five, verse 13 says Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will. Be clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him. I love that picture. He doesn’t just say, “Be clean.” He reached out and touched out the leprous man. He did what no one else would ever do. He touched him. He didn’t run away from him because this man was unclean. Jesus went to him and touched him and healed him.
When I think about that picture, I think about my life, I think about your life, and obviously it’s not exactly the same. But we are unclean in so many ways. I think about sin in my life. I think about some of the worst things I have thought and done that I would be ashamed if anyone else knew, and I’m guessing there are things in your life that you just look back and you feel unclean when you think about those things. To know that Jesus knows all of those things and yet he reaches out his hand into our lives. He touches us with a healing redemptive, restoring, cleansing hand and says, “You are clean. You are forgiven of sin.” No matter how horrible that sin is, you are forgiven when you trust in Jesus. No matter how much shame you might have, you are honored when you come face to face with Jesus. He touches our lives and makes us clean. This is glorious, life-transforming, awe-inducing truth. Jesus goes to the unclean and he makes them clean.
So we pray: O God, thank you. Thank you for sending Jesus into a world of sin and evil and wickedness and uncleanness. Thank you for looking at our lives and not leaving us alone, isolated from you in our uncleanness. Thank you for pursuing us. Thank you for coming to us. Jesus, thank you for paying the price for our sins. For taking our uncleanness upon yourself. God you made him who had no sin to be sin for us, in order that we might become the righteousness of God. In order that we might be clean before you. In order that we might be restored from shame to honor. That we might be taken from isolation to reconciliation with you. All glory be to your name for the gospel.
Jesus we love you. We praise you for saving us from our sin. We praise you for making us clean. We pray that you would use us today to be your hands and feet in the world around us, going to those who are unclean, those who are stained with sin, and saying there is new life available in Jesus. God please use us today to make this good news, this gospel known to people who are isolated from you all around us. People who are separated from you by their sin. God may your restoring, redeeming, saving touch be applied in their lives through our proclamation of the good news today. All glory be to your name, Lord Jesus. You make the unclean clean. In your name we pray. Amen.
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