17 October 2007Luke 5:12-16
"'Lord if you choose, you can make me clean.' Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, 'I do choose. Be made clean'". (v.12b-13a)
The phrase "Once, when he was in one of the cities" (v.12) is a
way of saying 'this is a typical example of Jesus' ministry'.
In the previous chapter Jesus had been shown in contact with the sick and demon-possessed. Now we see Jesus ministering to a person with a skin disease. Leprosy was a name given to range of ailments from mildew in houses and on clothes to skin diseases in humans.
Having no explanation or treatment for leprosy, society demanded that lepers were removed from sight and contact with other people - they were considered to be 'unclean' (see Leviticus 13:45-46). We would describe these people as being social outcasts.
By touching the man, Jesus steps across the boundaries separating clean from unclean. He touches the unclean, and allows that person to become part of the community again. Jesus shows his support of the law of Moses and insists that the man show himself to the priest.
Jesus tells the man not to tell anyone about being healed, but Jesus' popularity was spreading and crowds began to follow him.
Luke tells us that Jesus regularly withdrew to deserted places to pray - not surprisingly, this was essential to his ministry.
That Jesus could help is not the question in the leper's mind; but will he help? How does this question relate to someone who prays for healing and doesn't seem to be made well?
Why do you think Jesus ordered the man to tell no one about being cured?
In 'One World Week' what boundaries could we cross to bring God's love to those who feel themselves to be outsiders?