A man with leprosy came to [Jesus] and begged Him on his knees, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him. Mark 1:40-42
Years ago, I was leading a Christian tour to Egypt. We were awed by the sights and sounds of the country’s past power and present possibilities. There was, however, one thing that didn’t impress the “cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness” travelers—the dust and dirt we encountered everywhere. One lady, who was either more offended or outspoken than the rest, saw a child playing on what looked to be a village garbage dump. She spat out a challenge to those around her, “Why doesn’t her mother do something to clean up her little girl?”
The guide, a native Egyptian, overheard. He reached over, picked up his microphone, and calmly said, “Ladies and gentlemen, someone has asked, ‘Why would a mother allow her daughter to get so dirty?’ I can only tell you this: Visitors to our country hate dirt, but they don’t know or love the little children. Mothers of our country know and love their little children, but don’t hate the dirt. Until love for a child and hatred for dirt come together, these children are likely to remain as they are.” The bus got quiet after that—not because we were embarrassed, but because we were thinking that what the guide had said was really true: For positive change to happen in our world, our communities, families, churches, and lives, love and power need to come together.
Love and power have come together in Jesus Christ. Our heavenly Father, moved by love, sent His only Son to be born as one of us. As the omnipotent Son of God, Jesus was willing to live, suffer, die, and rise for us. Because power and love came together in the Savior, all who believe on Him are changed. No longer are they covered by sin. As Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
Reflecting the love of Christ, Christians are willing to do what they can to touch those souls who are still in sin, who don’t know the precious plan of salvation: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Excerpt from The Lutheran Hour sermon preached on February 16, 2003