I’ve read and heard Bible stories my whole life. And still, every now and then a detail pulls me with an invitation to look again.
Today, the invitation comes from the story of Jesus healing the Lepers in the Gospel of Luke.
It goes like this:
A group of 10 men with leprosy call out to Jesus as he was coming close.
“Master heal us.”
“Go present yourself to the priest.”
Super simple: They Ask, He Answers, They Go.
It’s verse 14 that is pulling at me though.
“As they went, they were cleansed.”
Recap: They ask for healing, Jesus says go to the priests and they start walking. Do you think they walked away in grateful confidence that, YES, it would be the priests who would cure them – “Of course, why didn’t we think of the priests? Let’s go!”
But, the priests wouldn’t be the ones to clean their infections, restore their wounds or give them the wholeness they needed.
“As they WENT, they were cleansed.”
I wonder what the Lepers heard “as they went” through town – screams of fear from onlookers, angry threats from neighbors? I don’t know but I do know they kept going.
Back then, people with leprosy had to wear bells around their necks. The clanging would warn others of their presence giving them time to get out of the way.
I wonder about the people hearing the bells. Would the ones who usually stared from behind a curtain peek out just in time to see? Would they stare long enough to witness the miracle of 10 grotesque, outcast, hurting lepers HEALING “as they went”?!?
The bell around your neck; it might be old shame, might be doubt, could be regret, even anger. The clanging will be loud as you take your first step. I know this to be true for me but keep going. And, what other people do as you respond to Jesus – whether they slowly disappear or make their disapproval loud or laugh in judgment – is up to them. You keep going.
It’s super simple, right? You Ask, He Answers, You Go.
It’s just both; simple and not so simple.
Maybe you’re too afraid to ask by yourself. [There were ten lepers in the same kind of pain and they asked together.] Then, get yourself a circle of people and ask! Maybe that’s your first request: “Jesus, I need a circle of people who know me, love me, hear the bells clinking and clanging around my neck and push me to keep going.”
Maybe you have a hunch what direction you need to be heading in that relationship, that job, that decision; but the bells are too much: “Jesus, you know my heart. And I think I know the way to go but the fear/doubt/criticism/worry/shame/regret is so loud. Help my feet to keep going.”
Ask. Listen. Expect the bells and the outside noise. Keep going.
Now, off you go.