He was an outcast. Not a friend to his name. Despised. Rejected. Hanging his head in shame.
He was familiar with ridicule.
And the feeling of loneliness.
A bell hung around his neck, much like today we would imagine worn by cattle. It’s so people would know he was near and hence, they would scatter. The bell signaled, “Unclean! Unclean!” Serving as a constant reminder. He was dirty. Unworthy. Living alone on an island.
In search of help, the leper made his way through the crowd. The assumingly “clean” people jumped, bolted, and scattered. They wanted to stay in their safe, Christian huddle. People who they knew by name. Recognizable and familiar.
After all, they had raised respectable kids, who held doors open for madams and shook hands with businessmen. They did not cuss in their circle or venture out of their shelter. It was scary to them to see what was a matter.
We can get wrapped up in our own lil’ worlds. Playdates. Soccer games. And football tailgates. We often do not pay attention to those outside of our sphere. Someone in need? Someone we could help?
This leper that particular hot, sultry day made his way through the crowd with Jesus fixed in his gaze. He desired to be made well. His flesh was downright rotten. Disgusting and gross. And the smell…ew…like fresh roadkill. Bloody and nasty. This man had lived his life in the dumps. His inner emotions…the hurts and the pain…were more than the nose-in-the-air onlookers could take.
But if we could take a closer look, maybe the issue at hand wasn’t so easily recognizable. The onlookers had their own problems, you see. They were just pro’s at making them disguisable. They felt lonely. And unaccepted. And left out a time or two. They battled with perfection and knowing what was the right thing to do. They envied their neighbor and wished their life could be better. Why, when you cut to the heart of the matter, they weren’t much better off than the leper.
Although from outside appearances, everything seemed okay…inwardly, they were caving. Just trying to make it through the day. Laughing at jokes of friends. Having just one more drink. Zoning out to their favorite television series. Wanting to escape their own reality.
The leper was needy in all sorts of ways. He approached Jesus saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” Jesus, looking beyond the disgust and dismay, replies, “I will; be clean.”
And immediately his leprosy forever disappeared.
From a former Christian Huddle Junkie, “Life is better on the outside.”
You may find this story in Matthew 8:1-3.