When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Matthew 8:1–3
A leper comes to Jesus in great trust that he can help him, although leprosy was, at that time, the most incurable illness on earth. This really took some doing –it demanded a great deal. All human wisdom lies far below the simplicity of such a wretched man. This poor man, tormented and horribly disfigured, knew God’s greatness and might. Whoever thinks of God in this way has come very near to him. We should be filled with holy reverence to see one of the most wretched among men standing before his God with such confidence.
“You can do it, if you are willing,” says this man. Christ cannot possibly lack the power, this man thinks. He could not lack power, since he has come from God. Now everything depends on whether he wants to use it. “If you are willing” means “If you have pity, if you have a compassionate heart – and you must have compassion. You can do it, if you want to. What more is needed to help me?” Such a noble way of thinking cannot come to nothing.
“I want to,” says the Lord. “Be cleansed!” Now look – where has the leprosy gone? It is no longer there; it has disappeared. When a man like that leper possesses such a childlike heart, God steps in. He wants to reveal himself so that everyone can trust in his greatness and might.
We must believe that the Lord can do anything if he wants to. Yet in the garden of Gethsemane, the Lord prayed, “Not my will, but your will be done.” Even though Jesus knew he had to drink the cup of suffering, he nevertheless prayed to be spared. And then the angel strengthened him. Likewise, if we pray earnestly, it may be that an angel will quietly strengthen us so that we may bear whatever is laid on us. And, as is so often the case, the Lord may even provide more than what we need, beyond our expectation.
If we pray with unceasing, childlike faith, and if it is God’s will, the Lord will let us see his glory revealed in deed and miracle. “If you are willing, you can do it” is the prayer of all those who fear him. And in his great wisdom, the Lord will say, “I am willing.”
Johann Christoph Blumhardt