“Lord, if you will”

[1] When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. [2] And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” [3] And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. [4] And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” (Matthew 8.1-4 ESV)

One of the magnificent miracles we see Jesus often performing is the healing of lepers. In Matthew 8.1-4, we see one of these healings. I want us to see a couple of things in this passage, not particularly about Jesus, although He is the focus here. I want us to see the leper. Notice, in the first place, the leper approaches Jesus with perfect trust in His power.

Though despised by those around him, this leper steps right up to Jesus (one commentator calls it a picture of holy chutzpah, a brazenness driven by desperation and faith), drops to his knees right in front of him, and, even more humbly, falls on his face (as we’re told in Luke’s account), putting his whole body and soul into this act of reverence and adoration.

Hear the leper’s words of faith and submission: “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” He is convinced of Jesus’ power to heal, even one who has a full-blown, advanced stage case of leprosy, according to Luke.  This is the hardest of the hard cases. Where did this leper get this trust in Jesus? He has at least heard about Jesus’ healing power, maybe saw it happening from a distance. The Lord applied this knowledge to his heart.  He submits himself to the Master’s will.

Second, the leper doesn’t grant Jesus this power. It is his will to do the will of the Father. It is said and it is done – you see that a little later in Matthew’s gospel with the healing of the centurion’s servant. It is his, Jesus’, power and authority; it is implicit in who he is and what he has come to do.

To avail oneself of Jesus’ transforming power, one must come as a humble petitioner in need – or not at all.  We must come with the attitude of the leper – we must come with the recognition of his power and authority and mercy and grace, and petition him for that grace, for a decision to display his authority in the matter we request.

The church is closest to heaven-sent revival when it comes to an end of its gimmicks, and humbly petitions the great Lord of the church, who alone has the authority to pour out blessing beyond what can be imagined, who alone opens doors such that none can shut them, and shuts them so that none can open them, to use the full authority that is his (Matthew 28.18) to bless his people with repentance and vitality and thereby bring glory to himself. Only his authority will suffice.

Pastor Clint and I have initiated prayer times for us to gather. We will be seeking, specifically, that Lord, if he wills, would bless the preaching of His word. You can join us Sundays at 5:00 PM, just before Grow@Grace starts at 5:30, or at noon on Tuesdays.