In the Gospel of Matthew a man suffering from leprosy asked Jesus to make him “clean”. You all know that leprosy was a horrible and incurable disease in the ancient world that afflicted the flesh. Your body would literally rot off — with fingers, toes, ears, and the nose being the quickest to succumb. It was disgusting because those carrying the disease also smelled horrible (their flesh was decaying) and it was highly contagious. This man believed that Jesus was able cure him and make him whole and clean. So he said simply, “If you are willing, you can make me clean Jesus”. Jesus responded that He was willing and the man was cured and became clean! It’s a short narrative, but imagine what joy must have filled that man’s soul and the lives of his family and friends!!! He went from being riddled with decay to perfect health!
In life nothing is so foul smelling and obnoxious as the prideful, haughty, egotistical behavior of a those that think they are better than others. And nothing is so sweet, pleasant, refreshing and attractive as a humble-hearted soul. We are all drawn to one and repelled by the other.
When it comes to my own sins and errors I often find myself comparing my life to others to make me feel better about my personal “diseases”. It’s convenient for me to console myself into believing that politicians are far worse liars than I would ever be (and I think that this is true), so my occasional deceit is really nothing to get upset about. Similarly I feel more comfortable shaking my head at the ridiculous arrogance and sense of “self-importance” exhibited by the George Clooney’s and Barbara Streisand’s of the world than confront my own “understandable” pride and ego. It’s the “relative” manner of looking at how bad others are compared to me that keeps me away from admitting my need to be cleaned! I minimilize my dirty thoughts by comparing them to the actions of Adolf Hitler, and I don’t feel so bad. After all, how can anyone hold me accountable for my sins when compared to the atrocities of Hitler or Stalin of Mao?
Looking at people who have leprosy worse than us does not remove our leprosy&mdashwe still stinks and our bodies are rotting. But looking to Jesus Christ as the ONE to compare my life to causes me to beat my breast and admit, “Dear God, have mercy on me a sinner”. The leper got healed for two reasons:
- He recognized that he had a disease.
- He knew that Jesus could heal him and make him clean.
Jesus still heals and makes clean hearts, minds, and bodies. The relative arguments are for teenagers, not adults.