While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “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!” And immediately the leprosy left him (Luke 5:12,13).
It has been said that some of the bravest words a person can say are: “Thy will be done!” The point is made—and it’s a legitimate one—that this places the speaker at the mercy of someone else. Who would want to do this? If the “thy” refers to our Savior God, we answer: “We do! We do this every time we pray The Lord’s Prayer.”
That’s a good answer, but we need to consider more fully what this means. Leprosy is a horrible disease, even today with our modern equipment and medicine. It is painful. It is disfiguring. And it is contagious. We wish it upon no one, and we pray that everyone so afflicted would be healed. St Luke was a doctor. Of all the gospel writers, he gives the most detail about the sick and hurting who came before Jesus. He tells us this was a serious case. The man was covered with leprosy. He was desperate in his search for help. He fell with his face to the ground. He begged to be healed.
We understand. We probably would do the same. But when he pleaded for help, we are surprised at his words. He did not demand. He didn’t bargain. He left it up to Jesus: “Lord, if you are willing…”This is faith in action. This is strong faith. If we had asked him, “Do you think Jesus might be able to heal you?” his answer would have been: “Of course he can!” It wasn’t a question of power. He knew that Jesus had the power to do this, and more. The question was: “Did Jesus want to do this?”Well, why wouldn’t he? If he had the power to relieve this suffering, as a loving God, why would he not do it? The answer is: “Because he is a loving God.”The child lies in a hospital with a tube in her nose and a needle in her arm. She is afraid. She is hurting. She calls out: “Mommy, take these things off, and let me go home!” What will a loving mother do? She will do what she knows is best for her child—even if her little one does not understand. She will keep her beloved child in that hospital bed.
We know that Jesus wants our sins to be forgiven. We know that he wants our faith to be strong. We know that he wants us in heaven. About such things, there are no “ifs.” But for everything else in life, for the physical and temporal, for the release of pain and the enjoyment of good days—for those things we pray: “If you are willing…”Of course, he could give us all that we ask for! He would be willing to touch us even if we had leprosy. That’s why we are willing to trust him when he says, “No.” He will always, and only, do what is best for us. After all, he does love us. He did prove that once and for all, didn’t he?
We pray: God of grace and mercy, into your hands, we commend ourselves and all whom we love. Your power is matched by your love. Help us to trust you when we do not understand your ways. Help us to become convinced of your absolute power so that we can rest assured that when your will is done, it is for our good. In the name of the loving Savior, we pray. Amen.