1 Now when Jesus had come down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with a skin disease came, kneeled before him, and said, “Lord, if you want, you can make me clean.”
3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do want to. Become clean.” Instantly his skin disease was cleansed. 4 Jesus said to him, “Don’t say anything to anyone. Instead, go and show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded. This will be a testimony to them.”
11 On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men with skin diseases approached him. Keeping their distance from him, 13 they raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, show us mercy!”
14 When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they left, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus replied, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” 19 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”
In Jesus' day, people called any visible skin disease “leprosy.” Leviticus 13-14 gave detailed rules and called for isolating anyone with a skin disease to keep it from spreading. Most people feared these sufferers and avoided all contact. It was stunning, even forbidden, when “Jesus reached out his hand, and touched” the man in Matthew 8 and said, “Become clean.” Jesus also healed ten “lepers.” Some were Israelite, at least one a despised Samaritan, bonded by their shunned and outcast status.
Lord Jesus, I might never favor a law or rule that shut a whole class of people out from services. Help me also to avoid the informal injustice of any kind of social shunning. Amen.
* Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Safe People: How to Find Relationships that are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren't. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995.
This morning, as I ascended the east stairs of the Kansas statehouse, I was met with a wild-eyed stare from a man holding a gun in one hand and a Bible in the other.
“Tragic Prelude” (for those of you who weren’t lucky enough to have a 4th grade field trip to the capitol) is an 11-foot tall mural depicting Civil War anti-slavery activist John Brown and the Bleeding Kansas conflict.
I was at the capitol this morning as part of the Johnson County Health Equity Network’s efforts to make safe, stable and affordable housing a priority in Johnson County. Today's focus was supporting the expansion of KanCare as a way to help low-income families by reducing medical debt. As I met with legislators and listened to members of the network (including Resurrection's own Senior Director of Missions and Outreach -Carol Cartmill) speak about why this cause was important to their sectors, I kept coming back to the stories of healing in Matthew and Luke.
Healing wasn’t just a small part of Jesus’ ministry, it was central. And his actions were transgressive – he touched people who were considered “untouchable” by society. Jesus went against the law, the way things had “always been done,” to provide compassion and much needed medical attention to a neglected group. He extended a hand to those desperately in need of hope, and through their healing they gave witness to the goodness of God.
While John Brown is a complicated historical figure, I admire his dedication to ensuring freedom for all human beings. I admire the dedication of the legislators working to ensure that all Kansans can live healthy lives. As a Christ-follower, I am compelled to do my part to extend a hand to the outcast, to the voiceless, to the marginalized, so that they too can see the goodness of God.
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