20th Sunday after Pentecost“Improving Your Serve : Move”
“A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.””
“Improving Your Serve,” week 2. Last week was about a servant’s heart and the humility of Jesus. We are to wash the feet of the world through a service that testifies to God’s love and grace.
So I have a question for you this morning: what moves you? What does your heart connect to? Is there something that challenges you to move beyond the boundaries of your everyday life? Something that moves you beyond your normalcy? What moves your heart?
I have always felt drawn to the sick. In my family, we were caretakers. We have always been nurses for our family, immediate and extended. When something came up, we dropped life as we knew it and we responded, no matter how long it took. I get tired doing a lot of things, but caring for someone isn’t something that wears me out.
I spent time in homecare, nursing homes, hospitals and all of these places felt like home to me. Being in these places made sense. Even those we cared for would sometimes ask if we had had too much or question why we were still there. I remember thinking, “Where else would we be? Why would we do anything else?” We chose to be there. It was how were were wired, how we were gifted. When we saw this kind of situation—and in many cases, this kind of suffering—we couldn’t NOT be there. We were moved by it, drawn to it, and compassion was the only response.
Now, after having said all that, there’s other things that don’t move me. There are certain areas of need that go by the wayside because I’m either not paying proper attention or I’m uncomfortable. Regardless, I must become more aware of needs outside my comfort zone and go to those places.
Scripture tells us in Matthew 9,
“35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
This text reveals the same issue we have today, that there is great need but few people meeting those needs. We may be drawn to certain areas or good at certain things but that isn’t a license to excuse the call to meet the needs of others. We have boundaries all around us, and we can pick 1 of 1,000 reasons why these boundaries keep us from impacting different areas of need. But when we look at our text this morning, we see that there is nothing that stood in the way of Jesus and His compassion.
According to the worldview of the day, for Jesus to reach out and touch the leper was wrong, sinful, vile, and medically dangerous. In fact, if Jesus is Lord, could He not have just said, “Be clean,” and the man been healed? He never would have had to touch him. But here’s the lesson: compassion is never about one thing. Being moved to engage someone’s need is restorative. It is an action toward another that has their entire good at heart.
Jesus makes the man well, not JUST for his health, but so that the man would be restored to the community in which he lived. Because he had leprosy, he was restricted from contact with others, could not live near others unless they, too, were lepers, and he had to call out from quite a distance when he was around others saying, “Unclean! Unclean!” That’s no way to live. He couldn’t even go to synagogue or temple to worship. He was an outcast.
But Jesus looks at the man when posed with the opportunity to show compassion and responds with more than the man was asking for. This is what the Lord does. He doesn’t just give us something we ask for, instead He brings with Him an ultimate healing and restoration that provides for the whole person. Because the man was cured of his illness, he could return to his home, his community, his friends and family, and even return to worship, where he could fulfill his gratitude for what God had done in Jesus Christ. This man’s whole life was restored.
Jesus touched the leper and in reaching out He connected Himself to the man, bonding with him and communing with him. THIS is what Jesus has come to do, to take His holiness and bond it to our brokenness, driving out our sin and bringing in His righteousness. God was moved—moved from heaven to earth, to respond in love and grace to our situation. God’s personal touch crosses every boundary, no matter what society or culture, opinion or standard is in place. God does not heal from afar; He does not stand at a distance. God is close, He is intimate, and He says to us today, “I am willing. Be healed!”
What is keeping you from pouring out your blessed life for others? Are you afraid? Are you lost as to what to do? Are you judgmental? Is it outside your comfort zone? The call is out right now, the call to move. It’s time to move out of your blessings and into the frailty of someone else’s life. How will you improve your serve? Will you move?