Day 9

Matthew 8:1-4

He covers his face. He is supposed to be in quarantine. He is supposed to be separate, away from sight. Away with others like him, marked with a disease no one understands and everyone fears. 

How long has he been living this measured death, this steady rotting of flesh once held in a mother’s arms, once firm and whole? The agony of his body accompanies the anguish of excommunication. Even as he suffers, he watches his people turn away from him in fear and loathing. Unclean

This is what he is supposed to cry, the words that must precede him everywhere he goes: “Unclean! Unclean!” A continual proclamation of his shame. Stay away from me, lest you become like me.

His people tell him there is no hope for him. They shake their heads sadly and put him away, leave him to the slow devouring. But he hears stories, tales hardly to be believed of a Man with crazy, upside-down ideas. A Man who heals. 

And so he covers his face, quietly defiant, and sneaks into the crowd. His shame nags at him, tries to tether him down. If these people could see who he is, if they knew . . . But they don’t know, and he is so weary of bearing this, and he has nothing to lose, anyway. Probably this Healer will recoil as they all do when they see, when they know who he is. But maybe . . . 

So he comes, and somehow he finds himself impossibly through the throng and in front of Jesus. He kneels and knows his covering to be useless. This Man sees. This Man knows. 

A silence falls. People all around him gasp, mutter, draw back. There he kneels, as usual, in his circle of isolation. Except, as he looks down, he sees dusty feet in front of him. So close. He peers up and sees the face of the Healer. Full of compassion. Full of knowing. 

“Lord,” he whispers, for he knows it is true, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

He doesn’t understand why he is so sure, but in that moment, he is. This Man can make him clean. But will he? For so long no one has willed him anything but to be far away, out of sight, out of reach. 

He looks down, waiting. And so he doesn’t see the hand reaching toward him. He only hears the gasps of the crowd before he feels a strong, gentle touch, and electric joy floods through him. When was he last touched? When did anyone last reach for him? 

He feels the healing of his body and his heart simultaneously, understanding now the deeper need Jesus saw. To know he is worth reaching for. To know there is Someone who won’t shy away from his shame, who isn’t afraid, who sees him and wants him close.

“Say nothing to anyone,” Jesus says quietly. “Go fulfill the law and prove you are clean.”

Why would Jesus tell him not to say anything to anyone when a crowd of people is standing around? Why would he command this man to silence? Maybe Jesus knows that those who hate what Jesus stands for might hear of the healing and refuse to pronounce him clean, out of spite and anger. Jesus foresees what is coming and protects this man. Prove you are clean first, he says, then everyone will know it. 

This is the kingdom come among us. This humility, this reaching out, this touch of hope and love and compassion. This is how healing comes. When we see one another and don’t shy away. When we see the person and not the disease, refusing to live in fear of one another. 

Jesus leads the way. He is willing. We can come to Him and see His hand reaching for us, feel His touch. 

Make us clean, Jesus. Let us be Your hands, too.

7 thoughts on “Reach

  1. Jesus, let me set the scene,
    and please come and play Your part,
    for it’s only You can clean
    the leprosy that rules my heart.
    Far too long I’ve nurtured hate
    and in fetid anger squatted.
    Please tell me it’s not too late,
    that my moral fabric’s rotted
    beyond all hope of its repair;
    You can help me, this I know.
    I am confident You care,
    and in faith now I will go
    with open soul to sit with You;
    please, dear Jesus, make me new!


  2. Your retelling of this is powerful and gave me goose-bumps! Thank you so much for bringing this alive to me again. I always wondered why He told the man to tell no-one, only to show himself to the priest. What a compassionate and perfect Saviour. Thank you for sharing this. #26

    Liked by 1 person

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