Luke 5:12-16 (ESV)
While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean."  And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him.  And he charged him to tell no one, but "go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them."  But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities.  But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
The man full of leprosy. We don’t hear much about leprosy these days. My sister diagnosed a man with it a couple years ago, but it is quite rare these days in the west. One of those diseases that has been beaten by modern medicine which in so many ways makes the world we live in a better and easier place to live in. Of course, it doesn’t fix everything. No matter how many diseases we do away with, there is always something else. No one knew of aids in the day of Jesus. Now we do. No matter what we do something gets us. Nonetheless, I’m happy my chances of getting leprosy are minimal. It is a terrible disease. The book Papillon, the true story from which they made the Dustin Hoffman movie, Papillion ends up visiting a leper colony on one of his escape attempts from Devil’s Island. That was a book. He describes as a leper loses a finger and hardly notices, then upon seeing it, casually throws it in the fire. It just fell off. The man’s flesh rots as if he was dead, while he is yet still alive. It is the very picture of death that infects us all. Yes, even now, we rot, though it may not be as graphic as it is with leprosy. Our lungs black choked by the smog of a winter inversion, we no longer run with the speed of a highschooler. Our eyes grow dim. Our backs ache as if we worked all day laying brick, when perhaps we pulled a few weeds. And we know, our days are numbered. Enjoy life while you can they say.
The leper, calls to Jesus. He addresses him as if he were a king. He addresses him as the Messiah, he knows Jesus can help, his faith in the face of death is undaunted in the face of Jesus. If you will. If Jesus but wants, then this man will be clean. That is how they talked of being cured. Being made clean. Jesus will. Jesus cares. He heals him. He cares for us the same. He takes care of everyone of our earthly needs. Yet how often are we like the crowds, constantly praying, possibly demanding, give us this day our daily bread, but caring nothing for the kingdom of God, that it would come in among us, make us citizens in faith sustain. The crowds, gather to hear him and to be healed. But Jesus? He withdraws to desolate places. He seeks first the kingdom of God, and only then is he ready to serve with daily bread.