November 20, 2013
And behold, a leper came to Him and knelt before Him, saying, "Lord, if you will, You can make me clean." And Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Matthew 8:2-3
Pope Francis and I are not pals.
We have never gone fishing or golfing together, and we have never split a pizza. Even more, he likes to dress in white while I'm usually clothed in black.
Nope, the pope and I aren't buddies.
His remarks over the last few months have left conventional Catholics confused and some of the public relations people at the Vatican scrambling to explain what the pope really meant to say was, "When it comes to my religious remarks, most critics say, 'too traditional.'"
As you can see, the pope and I aren't all that chummy.
Having said that, a few weeks back I thought Pope Francis did an incredibly right and deeply moving thing. He embraced, blessed and kissed a man like a brother. You need to understand, this man was exceptional -- exceptional because he has neurofibromatosis, a painful disease, a disease which had covered his face and hands with painful, terrible-to-behold tumors. Although I am sure this unnamed man has been shunned, scorned and spurned, the pope didn't falter when he reached out, blessed and kissed this cross-bearing soul.
You know, when I look at that picture, I'm convinced that's the way Jesus saw each of us.
Gazing into our hearts and minds, the perfect Savior saw each of us as we really are: souls who had been disfigured by the terrible ravages of sin and disobedience to our Divine Lord. No one could have blamed Him if He had turned His back on us in disgust.
But Jesus didn't do that.
And although it would have been a wonderful thing, He didn't limit Himself to embracing and blessing us. No, Jesus came into this world as one of us. He came and fulfilled the laws of God for us; He resisted and conquered Satan's temptations for us, and He carried our sins to the cross. Our tumors became His. At Calvary He offered His life as the payment price for us and died the death which we had deserved.
Now, because of what the risen Redeemer has done, spiritually we are tumor free. Because of Jesus' sacrifice, all who believe on Him are redeemed, restored and ready to live a life of thanks because Jesus has, as the leper once said, "made us clean."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, by Your wish, will and sacrifice I am freed from the disease of sin that had been destined to destroy me. May I, in thought, word and deed show my gratitude. This I ask in Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries