TITLE: Like A Leper
DATE: December 7, 2018
TEXT: 2 Corinthians 5:21 - God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Every age of man seems to have an illness which strikes terror into people’s hearts.
For thousands of years, those who contracted the illness were isolated, ignored and driven out of healthy society so they could slowly die, being comforted only by other fellow sufferers. In the 12th century, Francis of Assisi came across such a leper as he walked along a narrow mountain path.
One of the favorite individuals of Christian history, St. Francis repeatedly showed himself to be a man of faith, courage and love. That being said, Francis was terrified of leprosy and he shrunk back from any contact with this sick man. Francis recoiled at the thought of being contaminated by this individual who had been horribly disfigured by the disease.
Believing faith must show itself in the difficult times as well as the more comfortable, Francis ran and threw his arms over the fellow’s shoulders, kissed him and journeyed on. Francis had gone only a few steps before he looked back for a final glance at this fellow who had touched his heart. Ever after Francis was convinced that leper was the Lord Jesus.
He came to that conclusion because that last look showed the road behind him was totally empty.
The loving action of Francis is an incredibly impressive example of Christian living and giving. Nevertheless, it pales in comparison to the actions of our Lord and Savior.
While Francis embraced the leper and moved on, Jesus made a lifelong commitment to take our illness to Himself.
All too often Christians think of Jesus’ Bethlehem birth as a kindly gesture of grace from God. They forget the distance between God and sinners is far greater than the difference between healthy Francis and his leper.
In short, it was an ultimate act of love for God’s Son to leave His heaven’s perfection and be born in a stable.
The perfection of paradise was replaced by a world soured by sin and sadness. Jesus’ birth says He is embracing our humanity. No other religion of the world speaks of such an act from their deities. No other faith can tell its followers: ‘Look into the manger and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord has done to save us.’
Christianity, and Christianity alone says: We have a Redeemer Who has embraced sick souls like ours and taken our sickness unto Himself.
THE PRAYER – Dear Lord send Your Holy Spirit and touch our hearts with Your great love. As You were willing to embrace me and take away my sins, so may I, in Christian love embrace those who are ill in body and soul. In Your Name. Amen.
The music which introduces and concludes our devotions was written by Guy Baumann, one of my long-ago confirmands. He is singing with three brothers. This song comes from the album: The Baumann Brothers which may be ordered here: http://thebaumannbrothers.com/index.html