Verses of the week: “The ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. He looked at them and said, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy” (Luke 17:11-19).
Application for your week: Luke chapter 17 is the story about Jesus healing ten lepers. Jesus was on a journey toward Jerusalem. When he approached the border between Galilee and Samaria, he entered a tiny village. As he approached, he noticed ten lepers standing at a distance. Once the lepers recognized Jesus they began calling out to Him, “Jesus, Master have mercy on us!” I imagine they were screaming, yelling and waving their arms crying, “Jesus we are so unclean we can’t even come near you-- please heal us!” Have you ever cried out to Jesus like that?
As I look back over my life, I see myself in this story. I have never experienced leprosy but I know what it feels like to stand at a distance from Jesus. After an abusive marriage and divorce, Satan was hard at work in my life. He trampled on my self-esteem and crushed my spirit. The lepers bore their scars on the outside while mine were on the inside.
Recently, it seems that the scars of today’s woman are more visible than ever before. Abortion, physical abuse, divorce, abandonment, depression-- Our bruised lives and emotional scars isolate us, make us feel unclean and more importantly keep us at arm’s length from the Jesus who gave his life for us.
It makes sense that with all the trash and baggage we carry around that we would keep a safe distance from Jesus. If we hide condemnation and shame in our hearts, where would Jesus fit? How would He even have room to fill our hearts with his love? For me personally, during that horrible time in my life, I felt so unclean and so unworthy that I did not even feel like I could go before Him in prayer. Have you ever felt that way?
What keeps you at a distance from God? We all have experienced something that keeps us from him at some point in our lives. The Bible reassures us that it doesn’t have to be this way.
The truth is God wants us. He wants a relationship with us. He won’t allow our own personal leprosy (whatever that looks like for you) to stand in the way of that.
For me, the only love letter I have ever gotten in my life, is the one found in the pages of my Bible. I like to think of it as Jesus’ marriage proposal to me. He gets down on one knee and pulls out and a ring and says, “Will you take me? I’ll wipe out everything. I love you as far as the east is from the west, even to the depths of the oceans. I will put all the junk of the past behind us and we can begin a new relationship.” It is as if my own prince showed up on his white horse to rescue me, drew his sword to protect me and whisked me off into the sunset the day I said “yes,” to Him. Sounds pretty good, huh? All I have to say is “yes, I will take you---I do!” I have accepted His proposal and now I am his bride. This is the most real picture of intimacy and love we will ever know this side of heaven.
Jesus came and died for us so we would never be at a distance from God. No amount of disease or sin in our life can separate us from His love. Just as the lepers were screaming for the healing power of Jesus, He is screaming out to you, “Come let me heal you; I want a relationship with you.” The only thing that could ever keep us away from him is us!
Challenge for your week: Now back to the story. As Jesus looked at the men ravaged by disease he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests. And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.” This is so awesome! The passage doesn’t say that Jesus healed the men and then they went to show themselves to the priests. First, Jesus told them to go. Then the lepers exhibited true faith as they began walking toward the village without even being healed yet. They did just what Jesus instructed and as soon as they put one foot in front of the other, they were healed.
This week, when you get up each morning, before your feet touch the ground challenge yourself to say, "Even if I don't feel like it, I will put one foot in front of the other, one knee beside the other and pray to the Jesus who knows me and can heal me like no other.
Questions for Reflection: Is today going to be a day where you really got alone with God and prayed and now you expect to see supernatural things? Or are you going to waste another day of your life by trying to do things on your own without anticipation of seeing God?