“Unclean, unclean!” the man shouted, and everyone scattered to avoid contact with the leper- everyone except Jesus. We don’t see a lot of lepers today, but we have a similar reaction to people. They come in different shapes and sizes. Think over the past few weeks, has there been anyone who has made you uncomfortable. What was your reaction to them and why?
The religious wisdom of Jesus’ day demanded that a holy man keep away from various social outcasts, for example, lepers and “sinners”. So Jesus was bound to encounter resistance as He openly welcomed them. What did Jesus do, and what can it teach us?
There are three stories that is within the Scriptures I am going to share with you. Let’s take a quick look at each one to get an overall view of the way that Jesus encountered the “unlovable”. The first story is about a leper who desires healing from Jesus. He begged Jesus on his knees to be healed. Leviticus 13:45-46 states that a leper “must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, unclean! Unclean!” As long as the person had the infection, he had to do this. He was a social outcast. Can you imagine what the people felt psychologically? More than likely he felt alone, shunned, and hurt. No one could go near him because they would be considered unclean and he had to live separately from everyone else until the infection was gone. The leper overcame several risks coming to Jesus that day. Firstly, he risked being in a crowd. Because he was supposed to be away in seclusion, he shouldn’t have been in the crowd. Secondly he walked up to Jesus with a glimmer of hope, but was a bit unsure. The risk was actually going up to Jesus and being cast out again and mocked by those around him. He had uncertainty in his voice when asking Jesus for healing; he states, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” He was scared because he knew if Jesus touched him, He could “catch” the leprosy.
Jesus took risks as well though in His encounter with this man. He risked being unclean by Levitical law. If He were to touch the man, He could be considered unclean. The interesting part of this was that Jesus did not become an outcast by touching Him and contracting the infection. He became an outcast when the healed leper went and told people what Jesus had done, even when Jesus told him to go to the priest first to be cleansed (Levitical law says they have to present themselves to the priest and be cleansed before going back into society once the infection is gone). Jesus responded to the leper’s complete needs and made him whole. Jesus touched him, this man probably had not been touched or hugged in a long time. Jesus healed him, took the infection away. Jesus then gave the man freedom, freedom from leprosy, freedom from being an outcast and freedom to be himself again. Jesus made the man clean since the leprosy left him. Jesus dealt with the whole person.
Our next scene goes to Capernaum where friends lowered a paralytic down from the roof. We have heard this story since we were children. Jesus first forgave the men of his sins. This was more than likely a shock to the paralytic. Especially seeing that his friends did all this work to bring him to Jesus for healing. The paralytic may also be wondering how did Jesus know about his sins. Was it sin that caused his paralysis? It also sparked a lot of murmuring between the teachers of the law. The teachers started asking who can forgive sins other than God? Jesus knew what was being said and therefore he asked them a question before saying “you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” He healed the paralytic and told him to pick up his mat and walk. Jesus showed the teachers and those around them physical proof that He is indeed the Son of God and the power of God was within Him. The people responded by praising God saying “we have never seen anything like this!”
From Capernaum, Jesus goes by the lake and sees Levi, (Matthew) a tax collector and asked him to follow Him. Jesus then went to Levi’s house for tea with many “sinners”. The Pharisees did not understand this because they would not even associate themselves with tax collectors or “sinners”. They judged people according to their laws, not by grace. Jesus however, embraced the “sinners” and showed the Pharisees that He loved everyone. Jesus told the Pharisees that He was like a doctor that came to heal the sick not the well. He was here for the sinners not the righteous. He was in fact telling them that He was the healer of sickness and relationships.
Jesus teaches us that we need to love and accept others no matter who they are, what they look like, etc. Jesus was always filled with compassion for the whosoever, with no prerequisites. Compassion is not judgemental, nor is it self-seeking. The Pharisees were very judgemental. They always looked at the outer person, and not at the person as a whole.
The paralytic’s friends showed compassion. We can learn to pray for others, being there for them and never giving up, and doing whatever it takes to make sure that they are healed and taken care of. Have we been that kind of a friend to someone lately?
Sometimes it is very hard to love the “unlovable”. How can we reach out to those people? We need to pray for them, and for our attitudes towards them. We need to see the person as a whole, not just what’s on the outside. The leper may have been ugly to look at with his skin infection, however, he was a man who longed to be accepted and loved on the inside. Ask God to help us to look at the whole person, not just what is visible. Remember that healing is not just physical healing, healing involves us psychologically, socially, emotionally, and physically. So when we pray for healing for someone, albeit from alcoholism, cancer, anything, we need to pray for them as a whole. Jesus came for the whole person, accepted people for who they were, and He asks us to do the same. Let’s not be like the Pharisees and judge people according to our rules, or start gossiping about them. Everyone was created by God in His image. May He help us to remember that.
Who are the unlovables in our lives? How can we reach out to them physically, socially, mentally and spiritually? May we be more like Jesus in our relationships, with everyone we meet. God bless you.
Seven years ago, just before I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, God spoke to my heart about learning how to knit. At first, I thought it was strange, but he impressed onto me to knit prayer shawls. I learned how to knit and began making shawls.
Little did I know how therapeutic knitting could be. As I made shawls for people, I spent time praying for them. I also found it was something to keep me busy on the long days being housebound.
I have moved back home to the states, and am still unable to work outside the home due to the chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, etc. I cannot stand for long periods of time, bend, lift, etc. I also get exhausted easily. I am able to pace myself at home. All this to say, I am making Prayer shawls for anyone who would like to have or give one and cannot or do not have the time to knit. Please have a look at my new flyers.
God bless you.
Beauty is all around us.
All we need to do is open our eyes to see,
Our ears to hear,
And our hearts to receive.
Beauty is found in a blade of grass,
A flower’s petal,
The different leaves on trees,
Acorns, chestnuts, and other tree seeds.
Beauty is found in the industrious ant
And the spider’s artistic web,
The wings of a dragonfly and a honey bee.
Beauty is found in the delicate snowflake,
Each individually different.
Sunshine, clouds, rain, and storm
God’s creative beauty goes on and on.
Mountains, valleys, fields of grain,
Oceans, rivers, lakes and ponds,
Deserts, flatlands, rain forests as well,
All have their own beauty in them found.
Listen to the song of the bird,
The wind blowing through the forest,
The babbling brook,
Crickets chirping, frogs croaking,
Cicadas joining in the song too.
Focus on the calm before and after the storm.,
Hear the thunder in the distance,
Rain on tin rooftops,
And see the lightning flash brightly in the sky.
Beauty is found in each season,
Spring full of new life and hope,
Resurrection and joy.
Summer fun in the sun,
Family gatherings, barbeques and much more.
Autumn’s cool breeze and falling leaves,
Just before the earth rests and
Winter’s heavy laden with cold and snow.
Smell the sweet scent of freshly mown grass,
Flowers in the breeze,
Leaves that have fallen off the trees,
Wood burning fireplaces,
Beauty is found in all of these.
Beauty is in the paw print, hoof, and toes,
Birds of the air, fish in the sea, and
All the amazing animals that roam our earth.
The most beautiful creatures ever made
are me and you,
Made in the image of God.
No matter who we are,
Where we come from,
What we look like,
We are all beautiful and unique.
Everything around us is beautiful,
All we have to do is take time to see
This world is amazing
And God speaks through his creation
To you and me.
Unless you have been through emotional abuse,
You can never truly understand the pain that continues
Even after leaving the situation.
Sarcastic jokes about someone
Always saying, “You need to lighten up. Can’t you take a joke?”
“You are fat.”
“You are not good enough for anyone.”
“You won’t be able to…”
“Your family are Nazis and rednecks.”
I have been made out to the be the bad person
Because I left.
For someone who cares and loves me for who I am.
One who never belittles me.
One who daily encourages me.
One who supports and uplifts me.
I struggle, day in and day out.
I feel useless.
I feel unworthy to be loved like I am now.
I feel like damaged, broken goods.
Words leave gaping wounds.
Wounds that ooze
Leaving scars behind.
I still trust in the Lord.
I still praise his holy name.
I don’t blame God
However, I do question why things happened like they did.
I believe one day I will be whole again.
I am healing
Taking it one day at a time.
Doing my best to accept the second chance I have,
Receiving the love given to me.
Be careful with your words.
In the distance,
Are being made.
Walking barefoot in the grass,
Swimming in the pool,
Fishing in the lake,
On wisps of dandelions.
Cicadas and crickets
Join in with their chirps.
Rocking chairs on porches
Watching the sun set
Campfire stories being told
Sleeping in tents
A lot of laughter.
This is just a glimpse
Of summer’s joy.
Tucked in 1 Samuel are a couple of verses which were spoken to the Israelites. Samuel was much older at this point and had anointed Saul as Israel’s first king. Samuel was stepping down as the last judge of the Israelites and was giving his farewell speech. He basically told the Israelites that God was upset at them for wanting a king instead of worshipping Him as King. He told them not to desert God again, especially now as they have a king.
In the middle of the speech are these two verses from 1 Samuel 12:22 and 24: “For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for Himself…Only fear the LORD and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you.”
Everyone was created to be needed, loved, and valued. We were also created to worship God. God is our King. He loved us so much He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die on a horrid cross for our sins and to rise again so we could have eternal life. When we give our lives to the Lord and ask Jesus to forgive our sins and be a part of our lives, God welcomes us into His family. We become his children. Because of this, God will not ever forsake us. We are His people! We please the Lord just by being His. He loves us just as we are. We do not have to do anything to earn His love. He is ours, and we are His.
God desires a relationship with His people. He wants us to fear Him. This does not mean for us to be frightened or afraid of Him. It means for us to revere Him, be in awe of Him because of who He is. He is YHVH (Yahweh), non-created, always existent, holy, and righteous. When we pray and live for Him, He wants us to remember He is holy.
God wants us to serve Him faithfully. Even if we are housebound or bedbound, or disabled, we can pray for others. We can write to others. We can use social media to share God’s love. And for everyone, our service should be for God and not for applause from man. Our day to day attitudes shows our love and devotion for or against God.
God also wants us to consider the great things he has done for us. God is always faithful. He stays true to his promises. He deserves our praise. We should give Him thanks for everything. He provides for us. He protects us. He gives us wonderful things. God is worthy to be thanked and praised. No matter our circumstances, God wants us to remember all He has done.
As Samuel shared with the Israelites what God wanted for them to do, God asks us to do the same. God wants us to:
- Know we are His chosen people
- Have a relationship with Him and fear Him
- Serve Him faithfully out of love
- Give thanks and remember all He has done for us.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for who you are. You are my King. You are my Lord. You are my everything. Thank you for choosing me to be a part of your chosen people. Thank you for Jesus Christ, your Son, who died on the cross for my sins, so I can be a part of your family. Thank you for providing me a way to have a relationship with you. I am sorry for complaining and putting other things such as my job, my problems, etc. before you. Please forgive me. I want to serve you faithfully in whatever capacity I can. I give you thanks for who you are and for what you have done for me. You are a faithful God. You are amazing, and I love you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.