“A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” — Matthew 8:2-3
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In late October last year, Eric Parker, the coach of the Burke County High School Bears in Wayneseboro, Georgia, suffered a heart attack on the field. Eric and his family are devout Christians and are quick to thank God and the swift action of paramedics to save his life. He is thankful to be alive, and he did retire from coaching after the episode. Eric is now living a less stressful life in retirement. His experience reminds all of us about the importance of physical health, and how our health status may change instantly.
In ancient times, people were struck quickly with leprosy and usually couldn’t get rid of it. Until recently, no cure existed for the painful, itching sores. Leprosy is also highly contagious, so lepers were often kept apart from others. When Jesus came, He shocked everyone when He touched a leper and made him well. It is one of the most amazing events in all of history.
When a leper approached Jesus, He reacted differently than most people would. Instead of running away, Jesus reached out in compassion. “When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy” (Matthew 8:1-3). This miracle gave the former leper a new life in which he could live among neighbors, spend time with extended family, work a regular job and enjoy everything.
In Old Testament times, God also healed leprosy on a few occasions. A famous commander of the Syrian army had leprosy and he was very valuable to his king and country. A young servant girl let the king know that God could do a miracle through the prophet Elisha, who assisted Elijah before he was transported to Heaven. Therefore, Elisha told the soldier, Naaman, about God’s cure. “Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, ‘Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed'” (2 Kings 5:10).
Surprisingly, Naaman refused at first to rinse himself off in the Jordan River seven times as prescribed. He had nothing to lose, but he almost let his pride and arrogance prevent the cure. Several of his assistants pleaded with him to try the suggestion. “So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy” (2 Kings 5:14).
After God healed Naaman’s body, He then opened the man’s heart and mind to spiritual renewal. From that day forward, Naaman worshiped God.
— Bill Kent, Pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Sylvania, Georgia
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