Matthew 8:3 “Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.”
I am willing. What words of power! Of healing. Of love. Words every single person needs to hear.
The man who came to Jesus was a leper. The only thing he had going for him was his desperation. And although he believed Jesus had enough power to heal him, he wasn’t sure about the love. It’s no wonder. His whole miserable existence consisted of rejection. When people saw him they shouted“Unclean!” and ran in the opposite direction. He had learned to anticipate looks of disgust and repulsion, not compassion. So he asked Jesus whether he was willing to make him clean.
Jesus’ willingness continues to be chronicled throughout the eighth chapter of Matthew. He heals a soldier’s servant, even though a Gentile (v. 5-13). He calls people to follow him, although they struggle with the cost (v. 18-22). He calms a life-threatening storm despite the lack of faith displayed by his disciples (v. 25-26). He delivers two men who are so steeped in evil spirits that the demons he cast out fill a whole herd of pigs (v. 28-34).
Something about those words-I am willing-strike a deep chord in me. The same Jesus who was willing then…remains willing today… offering a love undaunted by
- leprous cynicism.
- judgmental disassociation
- self-centered “I’ll-follow-you-but-let-me-do-this-first” pleas
- unbelief in the midst of storms
- demon-inspired thoughts-thoughts fit only for pigs.
Despite whatever the condition of our hearts might be, Jesus says, I am willing to touch you.
It draws such a sharp contrast with my unwillingness. All too often, I find my willingness framed by emotion. Like Peter, in a moment of passion I proclaim, “Lord, I am willing to die with you” (Luke 22:33). Then he asks me to trust, or forgive, or simply let go…and the rooster crows. Yet even then, he is willing to swallow up my unwillingness and help me find rest in “not my will but yours be done.”
I don’t know your circumstances, but I do know those life-altering words of Jesus-I am willing-extend to you. Nothing you have done or can do alters his love. He wills that you be whole. His life proves it.