“A leper now came up and bowed low in front of him. ‘Sir,’ he said, ‘if you want to, you can cure me.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’ And his leprosy was cured at once.” – Matthew 8:2-3
I am struck with Jesus’ eagerness in this scene.
When we really pay attention to Jesus’ attitude in the gospels, it is clear how much he deeply loves the people he encounters. He is constantly described as being moved with pity, weeping. He wants them to be well, to be whole. That was his entire mission on earth, after all: to make us whole. And he not only made the ultimate sacrifice to save us from our sins, but he went further. He could have stopped there, but he didn’t. He gave not only his death for us, but his life too—he spent it among the suffering because he loved them so deeply. So deeply that he was moved with a gut-wrenching agony at their misery. This is not a figure who stood apart and did what he must. As Hebrews 2:17-18 says, “It was essential that he should in this way become completely like his brothers so that he could be a compassionate and trustworthy high priest of God’s religion, able to atone for human sins. That is, because he has himself been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted.” It is clear that he has made himself available and relatable in the struggles of temptation—but also in human pain as a whole. He himself suffered deeply. He knows what it’s like. And it hurts him that we hurt.
In the past year, I have become passionate about healing because I was healed miraculously in Jesus’ name myself. The gospels have come alive to me. The stories we hear of Jesus healing people are not just stories. They really happened, and they still happen: because Jesus loves each one of us intensely. It doesn’t always happen how or when we want, but when once we tap into that very real, very concrete, very powerful love, he takes us into his bottomless heart and transforms our experience of everything if only we will cooperate.
“Of course I want to!” Jesus told the leper. Imagine the most overwhelming love you’ve ever had for someone and you can begin to imagine the love that Jesus had for that leper. The love he has for you.
When I started painting this, I was going to paint someone who has leprosy. But this is a moment of healing. The leper is now clean.
If you have any interest in learning about healing today, the theology of healing, or even why you haven’t been healed yet, please get in touch with me! I am not an expert but I can point you in the direction of some amazing resources. I’d love to share the passion.