Lord If Thou Art Willing
And when he came down from the mount, great multitudes did follow him, and lo, a leper having come, was bowing to him, saying, ‘Sir, if thou art willing, thou art able to cleanse me;’ and having stretched forth the hand, Jesus touched him, saying, ‘I will, be thou cleansed,’ and immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him, ‘See, thou mayest tell no one, but go, thyself shew to the priest, and bring the gift that Moses commanded for a testimony to them.’ [Matthew 8:1-4]
And having sternly charged him, immediately he put him forth, and saith to him, ‘See thou mayest say nothing to any one, but go away, thyself shew to the priest, and bring near for thy cleansing the things Moses directed, for a testimony to them.’ And he, having gone forth, began to proclaim much, and to spread abroad the thing, so that no more he was able openly to enter into the city, but he was without in desert places, and they were coming unto him from every quarter. [Mark 1:43-45]
I have been pondering on this passage for a while. I prayed this very same prayer that the leper made, while waiting on the Lord to heal my nerve pain. And He did answer my prayer, although in an extended healing over time rather than the quick relief [like the leper] I had asked for. I am still on that journey to recovery – but amazed at how far I have already come. Or rather, how far He has carried me.
I am struck by three things in this passage.
First, the leper asked unabashedly for Jesus to heal him. He recognized Jesus as a source of healing, fought the crowds to get near Him, and knelt before the Lord to make his request. I imagine Jesus loves this kind of dogged determination to get close to Him. The leper was a social outcast. I can picture others making efforts to avoid this man as he made his effort to get to the Lord. The leper is a picture of all of us with the stain of sin in our lives. We are not clean, but we recognize Jesus as the One who can take away our sin.
Second, the leper anticipated the healing. To be sure, he asked the Lord “if thou art willing,” but at the same time he stretched out his hand to be healed. Because perhaps of what he had seen or heard about Jesus, he had full confidence that Jesus would in fact heal him! What great faith! In the same way, we can have full confidence that God will heal us. First, to heal our heart of the sin that comes between us and God. Second, often through physical or mental healing according to His will. And third, in our final and ultimate healing when He calls us home. We will not suffer the infirmities of this physical life when we reach our final reward in glory!
Finally, despite Jesus’ stern warning not to tell anyone about what had happened, the former leper could not contain the joy inside of being touched by God. We can, I think forgive this man for disobeying Jesus’ command to keep it quiet. Jesus probably wanted less focus and attention on the miracle itself, and more focus on lives changed forever by Him. We see from the parallel passages in Mark and Luke that instead of telling no one, the former leper made such a fuss, so to speak, that Jesus had to move His ministry out of the city and into the desert. If you think about it, leprosy is a very visible disease. People who knew this man could not help but see the change. And he could not help but proclaim the work of Jesus in his life!
We as believers in Jesus should also exhibit a manifested change because of His healing in our life and soul. We should also have joy so pent up inside that we cannot fail to tell others about what Jesus did for us.
Lord, if thou art willing…I am willing; be thou cleansed