That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. 33 The whole town gathered at the door to watch. 34 So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.
35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” 39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.
40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.
41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. 43 Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: 44 “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
45 But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him. – Mark 1:32-45
If wishes were horses beggars would ride. That was a favorite saying of my mother-in-law. I’m guessing her mother had said the same to her. What a great reminder against wishing our lives away!
Mr. Hoeppel was the produce manager at Shopper’s Big Star grocery store in Cape Girardeau, where I worked as a bagboy and as a produce helper. We would have some great conversations, the two of us. I’d tell him I couldn’t wait to be finished with school, or until summer, or until the next pay day. He’d tell me, “Don’t wish your life away.”
These days it’s a challenge not to do just that. I wish this pandemic was over. I wish we could get together with our friends. I wish we could see our grandchildren. I wish, I wish…on and on it goes. I’m guessing I might not be the only one with similar wishes.
Then comes the time to pray. Dear Father in heaven, look upon us with your mercy and end this disease. For the sake of Jesus Christ and for his glory, heal us we pray! We can so easily identify with the man who came to Jesus asking to be healed from his leprosy. If you are willing, you can heal us all. You can take away this dread disease.
In the case of the man with leprosy Jesus was willing. Then and there. Done. Healed. And in this case told the man to tell no one about that encounter. Instead he was to go to the priest, make the offering and be declared publicly to be clean.
Something extraordinary happened 2000 years ago when God visited our planet. Jesus, God’s Son, showed the mighty power of God over sin, sickness, and death. That power is still at work, and in much the same way it was in Jesus’ day. And it is important to understand what Jesus did and what Jesus did not do during his time on earth.
Jesus was not on earth for 33 years in order to bring a quick fix to the challenges, sicknesses, troubles, and brokenness of the world. Jesus was on earth to save the world eternally. That would happen only by means of his sacrificial death and his innocent suffering. But that’s exactly what Jesus did. And he gave a foretaste of that restoration and salvation to a few as a sign of God’s rule and reign. Jesus’ touch changes everything.
And until that Great Last day we will call out for his help and mercy. Once in a while – just as in his day – one of us will see that in bold relief. Let’s never mistake the foretaste for the main course. But let’s never abandon hope that Jesus is willing to be in our lives and touch us with his healing grace. That’s much more than just a wish.