If You Want To

If You Want To

22 February 2012

Reading: Numbers 10-11; Psalm 27; Mark 1


38 Jesus said, “Let’s go to the rest of the villages so I can preach there also. This is why I’ve come.” 39 He went to their meeting places all through Galilee, preaching and throwing out the demons. 40 A leper came to him, begging on his knees, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.” 41 Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” 42 Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy. (Mark 1:38-42 MSG)

Jesus started right off messing with people’s ideas about God. He healed on the Sabbath, he preached controversial sermons at the church, he took the work of God to the street. Jesus came to people who believed in God – who believed God was powerful, holy, and distant. Jesus came to show them that God was also gracious, compassionate, and present with them.

I’ve spent most of my Christian life at or about the place this outcast leper’s faith was at. I’ve lived believing that God can help and heal me “If he wants to!” Jesus is doing in and for my faith what he did for the leper’s faith. Jesus is replacing my “If you want to..” with “I want to. That’s why I’m here. Be clean!”

There’s so much more in this little vignette from a day in Jesus’ life. Like the fact that Moses’ law declared lepers unclean and infectious and if you touched a leper, you became unclean as well. And Jesus compassionately touched the leper and instead of becoming unclean, he imparted cleanness. How does that work? Could we do that?

Anyway, I’m getting my “If you want to” replaced with his “I want to. Be clean!” And I’m growing in confident faith that Jesus still compassionately touches me in my uncleanness and imparts cleanness. And I’m longing to grow in that grace that will allow me to impart cleanness to others instead of keeping my distance or catching something nasty from them.


Father, It seems as if my faith grows in proportion to my slowly-growing understanding of how good and gracious and compassionate you are. Help me to receive all you so graciously give, and help me learn to share it graciously with others. Amen.

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