“Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.””
“Do you want to go?”
He should have asked, “Are you willing to go?”
Because the two are very different. The first asks if I ‘feel like’ doing a big job. And I almost never ‘feel like’ doing anything physically challenging.
But asking if I’m willing, when the end result is so heavily in my benefit?
The answer is yes.
As in, yes, I will come out and harvest some poplars with you so that we can chip them into mulch.
So off we went, me in my orange monster toque to fend off a chilly breeze, machete in tow, Mister in his chore clothes and wielding a chain saw.
I’m sure we made quite the pair rattling down the road, he driving the garden tractor, me riding on the trailer in my garden gear. I was too mortified to sit on the green plastic chair he had so thoughtfully provided. Instead, I bounced along on my duff and fought imaginary dragons with my machete. Hey, if you’ve never had a machete in your hand, you have no right to judge. You would have done it, too.
(I sincerely hope y’all were snacking, or watching tv, and not driving by at that exact moment.)
Anyway, being willing is a huge deal. We can have huge plans, but need both a will and the means to follow through in order for those big projects to get tackled properly.
Which brings us to today’s story.
Here is a man stricken with a deadly disease, approaching Jesus. Folks back then knew that leprosy was contagious, so lepers weren’t allowed to live in community, touch or be touched, or have any normal human contact. They became outcasts who slowly but surely watched their bodies deteriorate to the point of death.
A gruesome and lonely end, to be sure.
And look at his faith. He approaches Jesus, knowing that here is the means to his deliverance.
He just doesn’t know if there is a willingness to act on his behalf.
He doesn’t have long to wait to find out.
“Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.” Matthew 8:3
Did you catch that?
Jesus touched him.
He reached out, and made contact. And the disease didn’t spread to Him, because His power was so big, His health became contagious.
See, when we approach Jesus with faith and expectation, we can trust that where there is a will, there is a way.
Jesus is willing.
His desire is that we will all receive His healing touch, all get our needs met through Him, all receive forgiveness and compassion and the salvation so freely offered.
It just may not look the way you expected it to look. You may have a hard road to walk first – like this leper. Jesus isn’t our genie to order around and then tuck away safely into that magic lamp. Sometimes we have to get stuck in order to find the way. Lose something in order to find a new unexpected blessing. Walk a mile in really pinchy shoes to realize what freedom there is in sneakers.
In the end, Jesus is always willing to do one important job for us.
Like this leper, we need to be cleansed.
We need His touch.
Rather than a touch spreading our contagion, He transfers His holiness, His purity, His strength to us.
Ask for what you need from One who is willing to help with me?
Father, how amazing it is that You are willing to help us in our time of need. Help us to approach you with the faith of this man so long ago. Work in and through us to draw us to spiritual health and strength. Amen.