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Praying the Leper’s Prayer

• Sandra Unger

Lepers in Jesus’ day were considered to be completely “untouchable” by mainstream society. They were excluded from the company of other “healthy people” and were forced to live alone or in leprous communities. Jesus, however, had no such limitations. When the leprous man came to Him to be healed, Jesus reached out to the man, touched him and made him well. In doing this, Jesus shows us how we are to minister to others.

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Lepers in Jesus’ day were considered to be completely “untouchable” by mainstream society. They were excluded from the company of other “healthy people” and were forced to live alone or in leprous communities. They were even required by law to yell out “Unclean! Unclean!” whenever nearing a healthy person so the healthy person could run away. This social exclusion created a life of solitude and rejection for Lepers who were considered “judged” by God.

Jesus, however, had no such limitations. When the leprous man came to Him to be healed, Jesus reached out to the man, touched him and made him well. In doing this, Jesus shows us how we are to minister to others. He did not simply say, “You are healed.” He stopped, looked at the man, touched Him, and then healed him. Jesus met the needs of the man not just spiritually, but emotionally and physically as well. Jesus chose to reach out and bring hope to the hopeless by touching this man, by entering into the leper’s need.

As the church, we are to be the hands and the feet of Jesus on earth. We are called to reach out and to touch the lives of the untouchables in our society. There are many ways in which we label and define untouchables; it could be the high school drop-out or the AIDS patient. Some labels we excuse because they are socially acceptable to us like the druggie who is “good for nothing” or the “gangster” who is dangerous. We use our labels for people to make them untouchable and feel that we are justified in our response. In Jesus, however, we are called to love the druggie, the gangster and the AIDS patient. We are called to serve them and to reach out and meet them where they are. Jesus met the leper where he was; he did not sit in one place waiting for the lepers to somehow find him. He went to them, to their “neighborhood.”

Untouchables are not the only ones who struggle with labels and with sin. We all have areas that we feel are untouchable; some of us simply hide it better. As we seek to reach out and touch the untouchables around us, we may feel God doing a healing work in us as well. We may feel released from other’s expectations of us or freed from the need to impress. We may also begin to fill our untouchable gap with the fullness that comes from following in Jesus’ footsteps and touching those whom we have labeled as untouchable.

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Topics: Healing, Judgment, Relationships


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 5:12-16

    While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “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!” And immediately the leprosy left him.

    Then Jesus ordered him, “Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them."

    Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

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