Sometimes, it’s because I don’t want to admit I need it. I am an independent person. I don’t want to own up to the fact that I can’t do something on my own.
But more often, it’s because I don’t like the way the question makes me feel: vulnerable.
If I take the step of asking people for help, it’s because I think they can assist me in some way. However, there is no guarantee those people will actually say yes. There is a difference between what people can do and what they will do.
Asking for help leaves me exposed, wavering in the wind of unknown as I wonder how the person will respond. Wondering if I will be rejected.
Jesus was often asked for help. But perhaps no one felt as vulnerable when asking as the Jewish man in Mark 1.
This Jewish man had leprosy. He would have spent his life not only in physical pain, but in social isolation. He not only could not be cured, but could not be touched. He carried with him the label “unclean.”
When that unclean and desperate man heard of the healings Jesus had performed, I wonder… did he travel to see Jesus right away? Or did he ponder whether it would be worth it? His requests for help had always come back with the answer “no” from everyone else. Dare he ask Jesus? Even if Jesus could help, would He?
And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. – Mark 1:40-42
When the leper approached, Jesus was “moved with compassion.” That phrase is from the Greek word “splanchnistheis.” It means to be moved as to one's bowels (which were thought to be the seat of love and pity).
And that feeling moved Jesus to do the unthinkable. Jesus touched the unclean man.
In another Bible story, found in John 4:43-54, Jesus healed the son of an official without even being in the same city. Jesus did not have to touch him in order to heal him.
Jesus did not need to touch the man. He wanted to touch the man. Because Jesus knew this man needed more than relief from a physical disease. He needed to be restored. He needed to be loved.
And that is exactly what Jesus did.
Jesus said “I am willing.”
Many people struggle to connect with God because they view Him as a disconnected authoritative figure, supervising the activity of humans from afar.
Jesus blows that idea out of the water. Because Jesus says “I am willing.”
When humans sinned, and there needed to be a way to restore right relationship with God, Jesus said, “I am willing.” When that way meant being born as a tiny, helpless baby, Jesus said, “I am willing.” When that way meant using His time and energy to heal diseases, speak truth, and restore hearts, Jesus said “I am willing.” When that way meant being rejected and misunderstood, Jesus said, “I am willing.” When that way meant dying a painful death, and being forsaken by His Own Father, Jesus said, “I am willing." When that way meant showing His power by rising from the dead, Jesus said, “I am willing.” And when that way meant His Father seating Jesus at His right hand to rule, Jesus said, “I am willing.”
And so now, when we struggle to pray, when we wonder if we can really ask the God of the Universe to help little old us, we can remember that
What does Jesus saying, “I am willing” reveal to you?
Read the post before this one, Reveal: A Series for Lent.
*Photo credit: adapted from liberalmind1012 on Flickr Creative Commons