Preparing for Worship: I Will. Be Clean.

Preparing for Worship: I Will. Be Clean.

John Haralson   •   May 12, 2017

Photo from Nepal Leprosy Trust

Once in the world, the only way for [sin] to survive is to become a parasite on goodness....Good is original, independent, and constructive; evil is derivative, dependent, and destructive. 
Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin


Dear Friends,

The man in the picture above has an advanced case of leprosy.

If he approached you on the street, ran towards you, and asked for your help, what would you do? Would you run to his aid? Would you stall for time and hope someone else came along? Or, would you put your head down and keep moving? To make the situation more challenging, what if you also knew that leprosy was contagious, that you could actually catch the disease yourself if you touched him? How would that impact your actions?

In Luke 5, a leper ran towards Jesus and asked him to cleanse him. Instead of keeping a safe distance, Jesus, full of compassion, touched the man. 

Jesus touched a man like this. And, through his touch, Jesus healed him.

But then, Jesus does something interesting. Jesus instructs the man to offer the sacrifices required in Leviticus 13. In other words, there is something bigger than the man’s physical disease going on here. By commanding the man to do this, Jesus was drawing an analogy between the man’s leprosy and the man’s sin.

Instead of making a simple correlation between the man’s leprosy and his sin (e.g., his sin caused his leprosy), I think Jesus is inviting us into a much deeper and searching metaphor. Jesus is teaching us that this man’s leprosy functions a lot like the way sin does in our lives.

Like leprosy, sin is a parasitic condition. Far from being merely “breaking the rules”, sin is something that eats away at us. It feeds on us, corrupts our goodness, and winds up leaving us distorted, twisted, and―like lepers―alone. Sin corrupts us from the inside out. 

Yet, here we see the beautiful and compassionate invitation of our Savior. We can run to him in all of our disfigurement and, with the leper, cry out:

           Lord, if you will, you can make me clean!

In response to our desperate plea, Jesus touches us and heals us.

This week: I Will. Be Clean. Luke 5:12-16.

Liturgy is here

I hope to worship with you.

Warmly in Christ,

John