Leviticus 13 gives a detailed account of what the priest had to do in order to determine if a person had infectious skin disease. Once it was determined that a person had such a disease, that person became "unclean" and was then an outcast from the community:
The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, 'Unclean! Unclean!' As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp (v.45,46, NIV).In his gospel account Luke records Jesus' interaction with a man with leprosy. Upon seeing Jesus, the man cries out for Him to make him clean. In response to the man's plea, Jesus does something quite surprising: "he reached out his hand and touched the man." Luke then tells us that the leprosy immediately left the man.
I believe that it is safe to say that the once-leprous-man was never the same after encountering Jesus. In an instant, this man went from being unclean to being clean, from being an outcast to being a welcomed friend, from living alone to living in community. (I can only imagine how sweet his reunion was with family and friends!). This was truly an amazing encounter that resulted in an incredible transformation.
As I read of Jesus' encounter with this man I cannot help but to think of how Jesus has transformed my life. Though I have never been leprous, I was born unclean. Though I have never felt the touch of Jesus' hand or heard the sound of his voice, I have certainly encountered Him. And for all of us who have met Jesus--by faith--I am sure that we can all testify that our lives have never been the same. At one time we were alienated from the Father but now we have been made sons and daughters. We were once dead in sin, but we are now alive in Christ. Or to use the words of the a hymn writer, "I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I see."