Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Humility, Faith and Prayer (Luke 5.12-13).
One morning recently I was prayerfully reading through a portion of Luke 5, and I got engrossed in verses 12-13 for some funny reason. Here is the portion of the passage that caught me up:
“While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him.”
Two aspects of the Leper’s request are what involved my attention, which made our Lord’s response stand out even more.
Humility: This person with a life-long, possibly life-threatening terminal skin disease was an untouchable, in the literal sense. And when he comes to Jesus he throws his body into his begging and his posture into his plea: “he fell on his face and begged him.” His verbal request flows along with his physical arrangement. He is bodily displaying his humility.
But more to the point, he begins his appeal, “Lord, if you will.” This too echoes humility. It’s not only in his posture, but in the way he addresses Jesus, “Lord, if you will.” He makes no bossy demands because he knows he is not entitled to healing and help; instead he acknowledges his place before the Lord, and Jesus’ sovereignty in this situation, “Lord, if you will.” And wrapped around his humility is faith.
Faith: Glued to his physical and verbal humility is his faith. There’s no sense of doubting Jesus’ power and ability; “you can make me clean.” There is no, “I hope you can…I think you can…maybe you can,” but rather a clear confidence in Jesus’ ability and power, “you can make me clean.” Here it is, early in the story of Luke’s Gospel account, and we are confronted with someone who is utterly confident in Jesus, our Savior’s openness to the weak and wounded, sick and sore, and our Lord’s ability to remedy what has wrecked the man’s life! Faith-filled humility and humble faith! And our Lord’s response has a beauty and a tinge of humor to it.
Response: Jesus responds to the man with, first, a physical action – something this fellow had possibly not felt in ages, “Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him.” The beauty is that Jesus, being unworried about contamination, touches the diseased, giving him worth and tenderness. The tinge of humor comes out when our Lord simply states, in relation to the man’s own request: “I will; be clean.” “You asked if I will; I will. You believed I can make you clean; be clean.”
In prayer, do we come in humble faith and faith-filled humility? Sometimes I think people gambol up to God with a deep impression of entitlement, a perception of personal prerogative, make demands of God, and then whine because they didn’t get what they think they have a right to possess (health, happiness, wealth, or a win). Instead, we might want to follow in the footsteps of the leper in humility and faith, because from there we may be in a better place to see the beauty of our Lord’s response, and maybe hear a tinge of humor in his remedy.