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. [Mark 1:40 NLT]

Jesus wasn’t afraid of anyone or anything…

He touched lepers and healed them, which, in those times, to touch someone who had leprosy was prohibited. Leprosy was contagious, and it was deadly. In fact, in certain countries, leprosy can still be found today where it can cripple and kill its victims just like it did in Bible times.

Normally, if a leper came near to someone, that person would recoil in fear. But not Jesus. He was so full of the Holy Spirit that fear had no place in Him. And when the man with leprosy beseeched the Lord for help, He was moved with compassion. Messiah Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, “I am willing. Be healed!” And from that instant, he was.

This made me think of my own life. How in the eyes of many I too was thought of as a leper. Here I am, a convicted felon and a murderer with an extensive criminal record. And in light of this story, I had to ask myself, “Who in society would want to touch or talk with or much less befriend me?”

Nowadays, I would be treated much like this unfortunate leper. Few if any, I’m sure, would want me sitting at their table. And this may be true for all those who have spent time in prison. Most people would be afraid to be around an ex-con. They would be uncomfortable and nervous in his presence.

And I do understand their fear and discomfort. It’s normal. In their minds, they see the brutal crimes I committed, and they cannot get past this. Much like the leper in Christ’s day, all they could see was his rotting flesh. But what they could not see was his soul. Neither could they sense his pain, nor comprehend the depth of his shame.

For the leper, however, he got everything he had hoped for. He got his healing and was immediately made whole. His dignity, as well, was restored. His encounter with Jesus allowed him to become human again. He was no longer the hideous monster whom everyone feared.

What a beautiful story of redemption. No longer a threat to society, the ex-leper could now go home. However, was this the end of the story? I believe there was more.

As I so often do, whenever I read a story about one of Christ’s many miracles, I like to put myself in the middle of it. In other words, I would ask myself, “If I was this person, how would I view life after I got my miracle and was made whole again?”

Well, I would like to live as Jesus did. Not that I would be sinless, of course, because only the Lord was without any sins or flaws in His character. But I would want to show the same mercy, compassion, and love to everyone that I possibly could. I would walk as Jesus walked, embracing all who needed a tender touch from God, or needed a prayer or a miracle.

Having been instantly cured from leprosy and thereby saved from an agonizing death, I’d want to live the rest of my life helping whomever I could.

The full account of the healing of the man with leprosy can be found in Mark 1:40-45.


For more from the journal of David Berkowitz, visit his site ariseandshine.org.