This week our meditations focus on learning a little more about Jesus. Today’s pondering examines mercy over judgment. “One day in one of the villages there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, the man fell down before him in prayer and said, ‘If you want to, you can cleanse me.’ Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I want to. Be clean.’ Then and there his skin was smooth, the leprosy gone.” (Luke 5:12-13; The Message).
Jesus’s day, leprosy, or any kind of skin condition, was viewed with fear and judgment. The fear was understandable – some conditions, like leprosy, could be spread from one person to another and no one knew how to prevent it from happening. And, it not only disfigured, but it was also deadly. Other skin rashes might be temporary and less dangerous, but when you can’t tell the difference it makes sense to err on the side of caution. Fear, however, often leads to something worse – blame and judgment. Disease became equated with sin or wrongdoing and so the person was not just isolated physically from others, they were isolated emotionally and spiritually.
Somehow this man in Luke’s story has heard about Jesus and his ability to heal. Violating the rules, he approaches Jesus; but when he gets close he can’t bring himself to ask for what he really wants. He simply says, "If you want to, you can heal me.” Jesus, moved by mercy, touches the man and heals him.
In reading those words, we sometimes miss what may be the most important part of the story. Jesus could’ve healed the man from a distance, but he didn’t. Jesus came close to the man and touched him. Imagine the man’s reaction to being touched. We aren’t told how long he suffered from his illness, but it’s a safe bet that for that time, whether months or years, the man hadn’t been touched by anyone.
What does this mean for us? We can’t heal like Jesus, but we can touch. We can put an arm around someone who is suffering. We can sit next to someone who is lonely and listen to their story. We can judge less and be present more. We may be advanced enough to no longer judge the blind, the deaf, the lame, or the leper … but we have our issues when it comes to the mentally ill, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the homeless, and the other. How do we move past our fear and our judgment? Perhaps it begins by remembering that time, those times, when Jesus reached down and touched us, offering us mercy when we didn’t deserve it. What do you think?
Meditate At 8:00: Mercy over Judgement - YouTube