"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. Then Jesus said to him, 'See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.'"—Matthew 8:1–4 (NIV)
In this passage, we see a man who is lonely, labeled unclean, rejected by society, and suffering as a leper Jesus. If we want to understand where he's coming from, we must first recognize his condition. According to his society's standards, this man would have been seen as unfit to be in the presence of the Son of God. However, the state he's in renders no different than our own!
All of humanity is equally sinful, and Christ welcomes everyone joyfully as they are . . . All we have to do is approach Him! Whether you're caught in sin, feel as if you're unworthy, or are walking through life feeling unfulfilled, I encourage you to take a step of faith, just like the leper did, and come to Him! Allow Christ to begin sanctifying you through the power of the Holy Spirit.
This man approached Jesus This in and of itself is an example to follow. Each morning presents us with a new opportunity to further a relationship with Christ, to approach the day with our eyes fixed on Him and our hearts set on Him.
Today, ask yourself this question: “If I have the knowledge of what can bring me ultimate fullness and joy, saving grace, atonement for sin, peace in my heart, and unconditional love, why would I reject that?” All we have to do is ask Jesus to help change our recognition of His presence, because He is with us always—whether we are aware of it or not.
How often do we let things entangle us and keep us from simply inviting Him into our next moment? We wake up and immediately grab our phones and start scrolling; we hit snooze and try to ignore life for just five more minutes; we distract ourselves from the feeling of emptiness by stuffing our minds with hours of TV or video games, or whatever our distraction of choice is. But it doesn't have to be this way! We don't have to avoid life or fill our minds with distractions, we can instead enjoy abundant life and fill our minds and hearts with the freeing truth of Christ. All we need to do is ask Jesus to give us the strength to approach Him and the vision to enjoy Him . . . and He will deliver!
Jesus didn’t need to touch the leper in order to heal him. He healed many people just by a word. But this story is meant to show us something amazing; We serve a personal God, One who wants to be in relationship with us! The man’s need was to be healed, and Jesus chose to perform this miracle through His healing touch. His willingness to approach Jesus, to respond in faith to the Lordship of Jesus, and this step of faith brought the leper into meaningful relationship with His Savior.
Pause: Do you find yourself attempting to find fulfillment in social media, friendship, your job, or school? Have you taken the time today to approach Jesus?
Ponder: What is your attitude and outlook on approaching Him? What requests or needs do you need to lay before the Lord? What is keeping you from approaching Him?
Practice: If you haven’t approached Him yet today, or it’s been some time, begin by calling His name, “Jesus.” Take a walk and talk to Him like you would a friend, or make a list of all the things you are grateful for! In order for you to know Him and for Him to know you, you have to be in one another's presence!