Here’s a short story from the Bible that really encouraged me this morning.
And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you want, you can make me clean.” And he stretched out his hand, saying, “I want to—be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 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.
Sometimes the simplest words are the most important. We often forget this and often forget to use them. For example, we often forget to tell those we love that we “like” them, though that’s it’s own, unique, beautiful statement. We sometimes forget the power of saying “that makes me happy” or “that makes me sad.”
Here, Matthew has Jesus only saying two words: Thelo, “I want to,” and catharisteti, “be clean.” To help the man, he need only say the second, and yet he takes the time to say the first: Thelo, “I want to.” It’s a simple word but a powerful one on Jesus’ lips.
It encourages me this morning as I come to Jesus needing to be cleansed. In particular, jealously, judgmentalness, impatience, and pride seem to have grown in my spirit over the last couple days, and I need help. It soothes me to remember that Jesus Christ is the kind of Lord who turns to His followers and says not only “I can, will, and do cleanse you” but also “I want to.” This Lord really cares about us, He really loves us, He even likes us, and that totally changes the feeling of coming to Him for help.
Jesus still sends the man to the priest, as if to say “don’t forget everything else about me and my Father.” Don’t discard everything about God’s jealousy and holiness and justice—Jesus has just said, after all, “I came not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it”—but do not forget his unchanging mercy, his unflagging kindness, his unfading affection for those who muster up the faith to come to Him.
“If you want to, Lord, you can make me clean.”
“I do want to; be clean!”