A Touch of Compassion

Footsteps of Jesus

Matthew 8:1-3 (New American Standard Bible)
When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Jesus and his followers have just come down off the mountain after Jesus delivered the “Sermon on the Mount,” an extended teaching session where he discussed some of the revolutionary foundations of the faith. Almost immediately, Jesus puts that teaching into action, when his steps take him near a man stricken with leprosy.

Leprosy is a disfiguring disease that terrified the ancient world. According to the Old Testament book of Leviticus, this man who called out to Jesus should have been far away from the gathered crowds, and, if anyone happened to come near him, would have been required to yell, “Unclean! Unclean!” to warn everyone to keep their distance.

But this man doesn’t do this. Instead, he approaches Jesus, kneeling directly before him. And the man doesn’t say, “If you can– if you are able– please heal me.” He says, “if you are willing.” What an incredible statement of faith. He doesn’t question his right as a child of God to approach the Messiah. He doesn’t question Jesus’ ability to heal him. He acknowledges Jesus’ power and authority. “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

And then look at Jesus’ response. He sees the man’s boldness, desperation, and faith, and he reaches out to touch this man who had probably not been touched with in years. “I am willing.” he says. God’s love isn’t limited or confined. God’s love is for everyone. God is willing.

Where do you need Jesus’ compassionate touch in your life right now?

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