by Ocki Haas
This phrase sort of jumped out at me a couple of days ago when I was reading the book of Luke, chapter 5. It was one of those encounters Jesus had with people that left a lasting mark. The story unfolds in this way: One day in one of the villages there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus he fell down before him in prayer and said, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”
Notice that he didn’t say, “Jesus, can you help me? I’m sick with a disease nobody wants to touch, and there is no cure!” He simply puts it out there: “I know you can make me well, but only if you want to.” As I was reading, I could almost hear the urgency of his plea: “Oh, how I hope and wish that you would possibly want to help me, seeing that I am just an unclean and loathed leper that no one cares about.”
See, in those days, people suffering with leprosy were considered “unclean” and were shunned by society. They were supposed to stay far away from people so that nobody would be in danger of coming into contact with them. That was the public policy (rule) of the day.
The story continues: Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there his skin was smooth, the leprosy gone.
People who observed this miraculous act were probably thinking, “There’s Jesus, going around breaking the rules again. I can’t believe he actually touched the leper!”
What I LOVE about this story is that one simple phrase: “I want to.” What a loving and generous response this was from Jesus to this leper! I’m almost certain the man heard that phrase over and over again in his mind long after his leprosy was gone.
What puzzles me is why some would hesitate to follow this kind of loving and generous man? Instead of love and commitment, he is scrutinized and analyzed. The tiniest shred of evidence to distrust or rebuff him is embraced without much thought. Yet, Jesus is mankind’s biggest advocate and ally! He is that person who cheers you on during your life marathon. Better yet, he is the one that runs beside you when you feel you can’t go any further. We don’t follow him for what he can do for us. Yet again, we do; for he is the one who holds the gift of salvation, forgiveness, cleansing, truth and life…
Do you ever struggle with a crippling fear? Failure? Sickness? Loneliness? Whatever ails you, Jesus continues to say, “I want to...”. Who would refuse such an offer, such goodness, such friendship?
Would you? Do you hear him?
A resounding whisper, “I want to…!”