Now when Jesus had come down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. A man with a skin disease came, knelled before him, and said, “Lord, if you want, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do want to. Become clean.” Instantly his skin disease was cleansed. Jesus said to him, “Don’t say anything to anyone. Instead, go and show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded. This will be a testimony to them” (Matthew 8:1-4, Common English Bible).
“Lord if you want…” In other translations it might say, “Lord if you want…” or “Lord, if you will…” or “Lord, if you are willing…” It seems like a strange way to begin a conversation.
Yes, it seems a bit strange. It isn’t at all the way many of us tend to ask God to do something for us. “Lord, please cure my cancer.” A different prayer might go, “Lord I really want this job, help me get it.” Can you see the difference?
In today’s reading the man with the serious (some translations leave out the word serious) skin disease, a man with leprosy, according to some translations (in the Biblical era they often didn’t know the differences in skin diseases and gave them all the name leprosy), wants Jesus to heal him. The interesting thing to me is not that he asks Jesus to heal him, it is the way he asks. “Lord if it be your will…” There is no demand here. The man knows Jesus can do whatever he wants. He knows Jesus has the power. Yet the man also knows that it is completely up to Jesus as to how the power will be used.
On a side note, we really aren’t sure how the man knows Jesus has this power, this ability. This is the first time in Matthew’s gospel that he exercises his power to heal. Perhaps there were other occasions where he used the power and Matthew, for whatever the reason chose not to record them, but the man did know.
So much of the time we forget that God sees the whole picture in ways we do not. We want things by what we see, the way we think our interests are best served and not by the way God wants. That job we want so bad, perhaps God, who knows us better than we know ourselves can see down the road further than we and knows we would be miserable in that position. Or perhaps God didn’t give us that position because there is something better coming. It might also be, that because God gives us all of us free will, the person who is making the decision on that job decided to hire his less qualified brother-in-law instead of following the will of God. We may not always know the reasons, but sometimes the answer is “no.”
Perhaps it would serve each of us well to begin our petitions to God by following the example of the man with the serious skin disease, “Lord, if it be your will…”
What are you asking God to do for you that should begin with, “Lord, if it be your will…”
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved