Faith Asks, But Doesn't Demand

"When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, '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!' Immediately he was cured of his leprosy" –Matthew 8:1-3.

I wish I had been present when this incident took place. The leper shouldn't have been anywhere near the crowd. People suffering from this contagious and devastating disease were ostracized from society, forced to leave home and family and live in misery as far away from populated areas as possible. When approaching healthy people they were obligated to call out "Unclean! Unclean!" so that people could avoid them. How this man managed to get to Jesus was a miracle in itself.

Jesus' fame had preceded him and the leper came in hope of healing. What most impresses me is his submission to the Lord. He knelt, but then anyone seeking a favour from a superior might have done that. It was what he said that demonstrated his faith and his humility. "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." The leper made a request, rather than a demand. We often presume that we know what the Lord's will is. This man did not. He hoped, otherwise he wouldn't have approached the crowd or the Saviour and run the risk of their ire. But he didn't presume. He believed, but I think his expression was more a belief in the Man as opposed to simply a belief in the miracle.

True faith doesn't need the miracle to believe.

I wish I could have seen the look on the Lord's face when he reached out his hand and said: "I am willing." To touch a leper was unheard of and perhaps people were more focused on the terror associated with the touch than they were on the look on Jesus' face. I imagine it to have been one of compassion. I also imagine it to have been one of pure joy as he acknowledged that before him knelt a man of faith, one who had come not just for the miracle, but to express his belief.

Miracles still happen. But when we ask for them I suspect the Lord listens for those words of submission: "If you are willing." That's faith at its purest.

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