Author: Alan Hau
Date: Oct 21, 2018
Passage: Matthew 8:21-4
Speaker: Pastor Joe
Jesus heals a man with leprosy in this passage. The dynamics in this story is reciprocative with forces of giving and taking in tremendous stakes. if we want to be healed by Jesus, what do you think it means to the patient? What does it take to be a follower of Jesus?
In the passage, Jesus tells the leper to show himself to the priest and make an offering as a testimony (Matthew 8:4). Jesus wants the leper to make a public display for his condition, the leper offers a prayer that requires his full submission and participation that is unlike an ordinary every-day prayer. Within the historical context, this is an act that requires immense courage. Leprosy and other skin conditions were grouped together. Without the medical knowledge we have today, they were all considered highly contagious. Anyone in contact with a leper was labeled unclean and avoided. To tell others that you are once associated with leprosy invites great skepticism and discrimination.
The leper placed all his trust in God in spite of the public shame and kneels in front of Jesus to ask him, ”Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Matthew 8:2). In reflection, the modern men and women put trust in man more than Jesus. In times of trial, we learn to ask help from others, but never from God. We forget about the role our faith plays and the level of trust Jesus asks of us.
When we are genuine in our trust and love for God, unafraid of the consequences making this connection, that is when a person develops an authentic relationship with God. Jesus comes to our aid for the leper. “I am willing” said Jesus and he removes the ailment (Matthew 8:3).
Denial of Self
When someone denies himself or was denied by others and lingers in denial for the rest of his days, he altogether denies a beautiful life of greater possibilities. A faith that is built in trust is what God and Jesus are looking for, just like what he saw in the centurion (Matthew 8:5) and the leper. The strength of this trust and how we value ourselves is also the door to God’s transformative work in us as individuals.
Being rejected by the public, the leper didn’t give up on himself, he didn’t let the shameful labels drown him and define his life. The constant comparison between people tells us to bask in inferiority, the world tells us that we are always “not good enough”. It is time we learn to accept who we are and value life in a different lens. The leper held onto his soul that is beautiful with a life that is worthy of celebration and ready for transformation. This is the part of his creation that he identifies and trusts with God. We should too.
We sometimes fear to be our natural selves, afraid of rejection from others. We hear some people who identify as LGBTI+ but afraid of going to Pink Dot (a public event that celebrates LGBTI+ life). If we live in this kind of denial, we live in constant fear of exposing ourselves. We build a barrier from experiencing love in its entirety. No matter what the expectations are of the public, if only you believe and trust in your beautiful self, that your life is worthy of celebration, then the door to an abundant and fulfilling life is open to every believer in Christ.
We are Children of God
The Bible reminds us that we are children of God (1 John 3:2). Are you sure about it? We sure place God on a pedestal but contradict ourselves when we lack the courage to face our true selves. God affirms us that we are His children because it is a cause for us to accept ourselves and others unconditionally. Brothers and sisters, have we acknowledged this unconditional love from God? Treat yourself with the dignity and respect you deserve and do the same to others.
The Best Version of Myself
What in the world does “best” even mean? If such a person does exist, he must surely not have a “life”. To live a life in satisfaction of another’s expectation is a sure way to lose all the values in having a life. We are reduced to an inanimate doll, serving the unrealistic expectations of someone else. We trick ourselves in searching for perfection because we can’t bear ourselves to be hurt. Afraid of exposing our weaknesses to others, we hurt others first. The cycle continues, building hate and prejudice.
These are the wounds God comes to heal and this is why we are in church, in fellowships to experience life in a community. It is an opportunity to confront each other and learn to accept each other. The clash of personalities is what allows us to build a stronger self, a healing and growing process that requires the participation of yourself and God. This is how we can attain the courage to be our true self in all its diversity while serving together in harmony. Take this spirit to the greater world outside the walls of the church. This is what it takes to follow Jesus.
A beautiful song: “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. See how we look at ourselves, others see us and how God sees us.