“While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.' Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' And immediately the leprosy left him” (Luke 5:12-13, NIV).
Having just left Capernaum, Jesus proceeds on a teaching expedition through Galilee. A leper hides in shadow. Disfigured, dressed in tattered rags, his face covered, Luke writes that the man is covered with leprosy. Leviticus 13 gives explicit directions which ostracizes someone with this infectious disease. Risking stoning or even death, the leper breaks the rule to remain at least four cubits (six feet) from normal people, rushes to Jesus, and falls down with his face in the dirt at his feet. Without raising his head he entreats, “Lord, if you are willing you can make me clean.” This determination to come to Jesus and his statement, are testimonials of remarkable faith.
No leper has been healed since Elisha told Naman to wash seven times, and yet Jesus has healed so many incurable diseases. There isn’t a question in the leper’s mind if Jesus can heal, but is he willing? In the leper’s sudden approach, Jesus recognizes the man’s willingness to risk everything. Jesus touches this man whom the law has decreed to be unclean. Proclaiming his willingness to heal him, Jesus pronounces him clean. Skin ravaged by lesions, now suddenly appears clear and unblemished.
This man has risked death in order to seek healing, and his determination has found reward. But not only his determination has made him rush to Jesus. His faith has spoken “if you are willing you can make me clean”. He believes in Jesus Christ enough to risk everything. He has even rushed to Jesus Christ with the question in his head that Jesus might not be willing to heal him. He believes Jesus can heal him, but is he willing?
What a powerful example for us! He had faith enough to believe, and faith enough to risk everything in order to receive. The leper believed that Jesus could heal him, but he asked if he was willing to heal him. He was willing to risk stoning or death even if healing was not in Jesus' will. Do you have this kind of faith? If you step out in faith and risk all, it only makes your faith stronger. Think about this. It is harder for you to step forward with your little mustard seed of questioning faith than it is to rush forward to Jesus believing completely you will be healed. The phrase “if you are willing” reveals a depth of risk that is not found in a faith that believes healing is a sure thing. But it is a risk that guarantees a greater faith. It is a risk that humbly approaches the Savior knowing He has the power to heal, and realizing that the decision to heal or to grant your petition is not yours to make. Just as the leper you are willing to risk all for something you might not receive. And in the risk, the promise is received. The leper persevered and He received (Hebrews 10:35-36).
So what is your greatest need? Are you willing to risk everything? You will discover, just as the leper, that Jesus honors your risk. Because He has already paid the price, He knows the cost of that risk. You rush forward to Him, and He lifts you up in greater faith.