His words were few. His situation was evident. His desperation understandable. So there was no need for a lot of explanation on his part. Instead, the leper approached Jesus, fell to his knees and, according to Mark’s account, begged Him to intervene with just eight single-syllable words:
“If You will, You can make me clean.” (Mark 1:40 ESV)
That Jesus was able was without question. The leper had heard enough, maybe even seen enough, to know, without a shadow of a doubt, the power this Man of Nazareth possessed. Able? Check! Willing? Well that was the question.
If You are willing, You can make me clean. The leper had planted his mustard seed of faith. His desire to be clean greater than the law’s requirement that he keep his distance. But his desire alone couldn’t provide the healing so desperately sought after. Nothing he could do could take away the disease. He was stained, and without any resources of his own to make himself clean. But if Jesus was willing, He could make Him clean.
And Jesus was. And Jesus did.
Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
(Mark 1:41-42 ESV)
And what’s got me thinking this morning is the dynamic that took “If you will” and transformed it into “I will.”
Jesus was moved with pity, or as the other translations put it, Jesus was moved with compassion. And that was the driver for Jesus’ willingness to heal. The Lord’s compassion is what took an expression of faith and converted it into a demonstration of fact.
Jesus cared for this desperate soul–and cared deeply. He didn’t just feel sorry for the man, but Jesus entered into and sympathized with the leper’s situation. He felt the effects of the disease, physically and emotionally. He knew the separation that accompanied it because of the law. He was not unaware that the life of a diseased beggar was far below the abundant life for which the man had been created. Jesus was moved with compassion.
He was stirred deep inside. Moved within. And thus, He who was able became willing. And, He who could have simply spoken the word of healing, in tenderness determined, instead, to stretch out His hand and touch a man who likely had not felt the skin of any other human for years. Not because the man deserved it, though he had faith, but because the heart of heaven was moved and determined to respond with abundant favor.
“If You will” became “I will” because Jesus cares. That’s what I’m chewing on this morning. Not only does the Lord of Creation know, He cares. Not only is He aware of our weakness, but He is moved by it. Moved enough to respond. Moved enough to stretch out His hand and allow us to feel the warmth of His touch.
Jesus cares. Mine is to humbly bow before Him with my need. In simple faith to call to the Master, “If You are willing, I know You can.”
Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?
Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
~ Frank E. Graeff, 1901
Such is His grace. To Him be all glory.