By J.R. Miller
A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said: "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean!"
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy!
After the Sermon on the Mount, we have narratives of many healings. The first was that of a leper. The case was remarkable because the disease was loathsome, contagious and incurable. The leper's cry to Jesus was very earnest. He had no doubt of Christ's power to cure him, "You can,"--but he seems uncertain regarding His willingness to do it. Instantly came the answer, "I will." As He said this He reached out His hand and touched him. Straightaway the cure was wrought. The man was ready to go back again to his home and to take his place once more in society. Marvelous always, was the touch of Christ. It never took defilement; it was so full of health that it cleansed the utmost loathsomeness! The same touch that changed the leper's flesh into cleanness, changes the worst lives into whiteness and wholeness.
The next act of healing was wrought on a slave. A Roman centurion had a servant who was very sick and a great sufferer. Somehow the centurion had heard of Jesus and the wonderful works he was doing, and he went to Him beseechingly and told Him of his trouble. We learn more about this soldier from seeing him at Jesus' door. He was greatly distressed, and yet it was not his child that was sick--it was only his slave. This tells us what kind of a man the centurion was--he had a gentle heart. All of us are continually manifesting what we are, through the little windows of our common, unconscious acts. By the way a boy treats his dog or his pony, or birds and insects, especially by his treatment of his sisters, and by his manner toward his playmates, and toward the poor and the weak--he is showing what he really is.
We see here also the immortality of good deeds. It is sweet to be remembered, long after one has passed out of life, by what one has done. It was a great while ago that this centurion went on his errand--but here we find his gentle deed set down among the memorials of Christ's own life. This deed of the centurion's is found imbedded on a gospel page. Every good deed done in Christ's name, is recorded in God's books and on human lives. It is worthwhile, therefore, to train our hearts to gentle thoughts and our hands to gentle deeds.
Jesus received the Gentile soldier most graciously and said at once He would accompany him home and heal the servant. Here we have a revelation of the heart of Christ. He was quick to respond to every cry of suffering. It will greatly help us in our thoughts of Christ in heaven, to remember that He is the same now, that He was while on the earth. He is still quick to hear our prayer and respond to our requests. His heart is yet tender and full of compassion toward pain. The gospel pages are not records of what Christ was--but glimpses of what He is!
Another lesson here is for ourselves. It is said that Dr. Livingstone rarely ever offered a prayer, even in his early Christian life, in which he did not plead to be made like Christ in all his imitable perfection. This should be the daily prayer of every Christian. We should seek to have Christ's great kindness of heart. The world is full of suffering--and we ought to seek in all possible ways to give comfort, relief or help. We have power to scatter happiness, to relieve distress, to give cheer and hope. We may not be able to heal diseases--but we can love people in Christ's name, and give them courage and strength to go on with their troubles and be encouraged.
But the centurion shrank now in his lowliness from having Jesus enter his home. This was true humility. We cannot truly see Christ--and not be humbled. The reason we are so proud and self-conceited, is because we do not see Him. If our eyes but beheld Him in the glory and splendor of His Divinity--all our vain pretensions would instantly shrivel. We should look at Christ with a long, loving gaze--until a sense of His Divine greatness fills our hearts.
Another thing here to be noted, is the centurion's conception of Christ. He thought of Him as a great Commander with all the forces of the universe under Him. The soldier knows only one duty--to obey; and all these forces know only to obey Christ. Christ is the Commander of the army of the universe! The stars and planets are under Him and obey Him, all winds and tempests and all the powers of nature--are subject to His sway. All diseases, all events, come and go at His word.
This ought to give us great confidence in the midst of dangers of whatever kind. Diseases and pestilence are only Christ's soldiers. They are obedient to His will--and can never transcend it not to go contrary to it. They can go only where and as far--as He sends them. Death is one of His soldiers, too, and can do only His command. Why then should we dread death, since it is the obedient servant of our King? So of all events and occurrences--they are but the messengers of our Master and cannot harm us. It was not necessary for Jesus to go to the centurion's house to heal his slave. He had only to speak the word--and the illness would obey Him and flee away!
The centurion's great faith wrought a great cure. "As you have believed--so be it done unto you." Blessing depends upon faith, the measure of blessing upon the measure of faith. Little faith gets little help. We have all God's fullness from which to draw, and there can be no limit to our receiving, save the capacity of our believing. It is because we have such small faith--that the answers to our prayers are so meager.
The next case of healing was wrought in the home of one of the disciples. Jesus blesses homes. It was after a Sabbath service in the synagogue. When Jesus entered the house He found the woman lying sick with a fever. We are not told of any request for healing by any of the family. The thought seems to have been the Master's own. He saw her sick--and His heart was full of compassion. The record is very beautiful. "He touched her hand--and the fever left her." What strange power has that touch! There are other fevers besides those that burn in people's bodies. There are fevers of the mind, of the soul. There are fevers of discontent, of passion, of ambition, of lust, of jealousy, of envy! There are fevers of anxiety, of remorse, of despair. All of these, all life's fevers, the touch of Christ has power to heal. Let Him only touch the hot hand--and the fever will flee away and quietness and peace will come!
"The fever left her; and she arose, and ministered unto Him." She could not minister, until the fever was gone. Nor can we minister while life's fevers are burning within us. But when the fever leaves us--we at once to arise and begin to serve the Master. It would add immeasurably to our power among men and to the influence of our lives--if we would always get the touch of Christ upon our hands at the beginning of each day.
One says of his mother: "My mother's habit was, every day, immediately after breakfast, to withdraw for an hour to her own room, and to spend the time in reading the Bible, in meditation, and in prayer. From that hour, as from a pure fountain, she drew the strength and the sweetness which enabled her to fulfill all her duties, and to remain unruffled by all the worries and pettiness which are so often the intolerable trial of poor homes. As I think of her life, and of all it had to bear, I see the absolute triumph of Christian grace in the lovely ideal of a Christian woman. I never saw her temper disturbed; I never heard her speak one word of anger, or of calumny, or of idle gossip. I never observed in her any sign of a single sentiment unfitting to a soul which had drunk of the river of the water of life, and which had fed upon manna in the barren wilderness. The world is the better for the passage of such souls across its surface."
Let other weary mothers wait each morning to get the touch of Christ before they go the day's tasks and frets. Then the fevers of life will leave them, and they will enter upon a day of quiet peace and gentle ministry.
The closing words of our passage present a most remarkable picture. "When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick." It would seem that there were scores healed in one hour!