August 25, 2008
And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Matthew 8:3
Everybody I know, and I do mean everybody, is talking about the Olympics.
Understand, they're not zeroing in on the athletic competition; they're talking about the opening ceremonies. It was an outstanding bit of showmanship.
As people think back, they recall certain highlights. One of those bright moments would be young Lin Miaoke who, as China's flag was carried into Beijing's National Stadium, sang, "Ode to the Motherland."
Sadly, there is a problem with that memory. Lin wasn't singing. She was just mouthing the words of the song that were being belted out by a seven-year-old girl by the name of Yang Peiyi.
"Why," you ask, "didn't they let Yang sing in front of the great crowd in the stadium and the millions who were watching at home?"
The answer is a simple one: Yang wasn't pretty enough.
That's right. Highly ranked politicians decided that the people in the ceremony had to look good to the world, and Yang didn't fit their mold of perfection. Yang will, for the most part, remain unknown while the world applauds the girl they saw on television.
When I heard that story, I thought of the Savior and how He dealt with lepers.
While we don't know the physical condition of the man Jesus encountered in the text for today's devotion, we do know that the man was required to keep a distance from anyone who was healthy. As the disease progressed, staying away wouldn't have been too difficult. The disease ensured lepers weren't very pretty.
And what did the Savior do for that leper? He didn't run away in revulsion and self-preservation. He didn't shout at the leper or throw stones at him.
No, Jesus reached out to touch that leper and heal him.
This should be a comfort to all of us. We know that a lack of physical beauty and the sins that stain our souls will not stop the Lord Jesus from coming to us. He, who gave His life on the cross and rose from the grave so we might be forgiven and adopted into the family of faith, reaches out to all of us.
You heard that right: In spite of who we are, the risen Christ, with nail-scarred hands, reaches out to touch us, wash us, and heal us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for giving Yourself as a sacrifice for my salvation, accept my thanks and praise. For removing the ugliness of sin from my soul, I rejoice. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries