Passers-by scurry to the other side of the street, shaking their heads in disgust. Little ones run from him.
He slowly strolls the dirt road. Just out for a bit of fresh air, to relieve his nostrils from the stench of his barless prison outside of town.
“Unclean! Unclean!” shouts the disheveled man. He struggles in pain to reach for his mantle to cover his beard, as rabbinical regulations require. In torn mourning clothes, he looks like a mourner ready for a burial service.
He is forced to live on the fringe of humanity, corralled in a leper colony. A community of the miserable. The shunned, the forsaken, the hopeless. Those suffering the same disease with the mummy-like pallor, the crusting scales, and oozing sores. An isolated and lonely place for those sentenced to live out their days.
Rabbis say he’s been sinful and this is God’s punishment. The outward, visible sign of the innermost, spiritual corruption. Their rules say his hair must be unkempt. His clothes torn. His beard covered.
These regulations have terminated loving hugs from his family. He is even forbidden to return a greeting from someone, which requires an embrace, for those who come into contact with him become defiled. So say the rabbis.
Friends deserted him. Only his mother visits on occasion and stands at a distance to talk to him, though she appears to be talking to the ground. She cannot stand to look at his misery.
While the disease eats away at his nerves and bones and numbness inhabits his limbs, loneliness and separation eat away at his emotions.
No laughter. No love. No joy. No celebrating Passover or other festivals.
He is the shunned, forsaken, hopeless.
But as he walks, he hears those on the other side of the street excitedly talking. He stops to listen. “Jesus, the one claiming to be the Son of God. He’s here. And He is healing the lame, the blind, and the deaf.”
A spark of hope ignites deep in his soul. Should I go? Can I even get near Him? He decides to make his way toward town. Jesus. Must get to this Jesus.
Once in town, he watches from the fringe of the crowd that has gathered. He watches as one after another is healed of his or her infirmity. He waits for his chance to get before this One who heals.
Finally, an opening in the crowd. He scoots in and falls to his knees before the Healer.
A universal gasp is heard throughout the crowd, as they all back away.
“Lord…if You are willing, You can heal me and make me clean,” he cries. (Luke 5:12 NLT)
Others withdraw as they see his outward disease. But Jesus draws near as He sees his inward disease of pain, shame, the loss of everything. So moved with compassion, He reaches out to touch the leper.
“I am willing; be cleansed,” says Jesus. (Matt. 8:3 NKJV)
In a flash of divine restoration, new life rushes through every fiber of his being. Feeling surges through his limbs. The color is back in his skin. The sores are nowhere to be seen. Tears of joy fill his eyes and bursts of mirth fill his feet with dancing.
He’s anxious to show everyone, yet Jesus cautions him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” (Luke 5:14 NIV)
This kind of good news cannot be contained. And the word spread. Great multitudes thronged Jesus, so He withdrew to the wilderness. But the people still came to Him, from every direction.
If you feel shunned, forsaken, hopeless, the Lord sees the inward you. Come to Him, no matter what direction. His touch will heal your every need.