We must move past the truth that Jesus is able to the absolute certainty that Jesus is willing. Anything less diminishes Him and His perfect, complete work on the cross.
And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matthew 8:2-3)
I wonder how many times this leper watched and listened as Jesus reached out and changed the lives of so many. In our modern age, we don’t fully appreciate the reality of what it meant to be stricken with leprosy. Aside from the death sentence – there was no cure, and having the disease meant a slow downward spiral towards inevitable death – there were rigid social taboos. Not the least of these was the prohibition of coming into any physical contact with others. This isolation was so complete that lepers carried and rang a bell, calling out ‘unclean,’ whenever they ventured into public. They did this to warn others and so avoid anyone bumping into them, even inadvertently. What an incredibly lonely existence they must have lived, to all intents and purposes no longer recognised as anyone of value – the living dead, people marking time and taking up space until death.
Audacious faith sees Jesus is willing.
Yet something changed in this man on this particular day. After watching – and no doubt longing for Jesus to touch his life – something seized hold of him. That something was audacious faith. It may well be that he realised that the one thing keeping him forever separate from humanity would be the one thing to get him to Jesus. I’d never really pictured this scene before, but it makes perfect sense. Jesus comes down from the mountain and the crowds throng around Him as they usually do. That is the moment the leper acts. Ringing his bell and loudly yelling ‘unclean,’ he watches as the crowd instinctively pulls away, leaving the way wide and clear for him to approach Jesus. Instead of remaining ‘invisible’ as his condition has taught him, audacious faith thrusts him into the place where he learns Jesus is willing.
What struck me powerfully here was that his need ignored convention. He knew his only hope lay in Jesus. Social conditioning and expectations had held him trapped in no-man’s land and could likely have kept him there forever. But one single truth penetrated the hopelessness and desperation of his situation. The Son of God was the only answer. In Jesus alone lay any hope of healing and redemption – of life in its fullest. It is when this truth ignites within him that he finds the courage to act on the other certain truth. Everything else was in the way. He had to push through the crowd, the prejudice, the expectations, and the limitations and reach Jesus. Only then could he discover that Jesus is willing. Audacious faith knows first that Jesus can and acts on that. Only when it defies all to reach Jesus does it find that Jesus will.
Jesus is willing is an established fact.
This poor man did not have the full revelation of the cross and the resurrection. He had only one truth – this man, the Son of God, was able. The reality of the power of God is such that when we act on the faith we have, He releases the faith we need. But we have a greater revelation. We know, beyond of a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus is willing. If He were not, He would never have given Himself over to the scourge and the crown of thorns and the nails that wounded His hands and feet. The full measure of the cross and resurrection is saved, healed, and delivered. The Gospel is full provision for every need – through His blood for our spiritual needs and through His body for our physical, mental, and emotional needs. It is perfectly perfect and completely complete.
The issue for believers is not whether Jesus is willing. He has already proved that He is willing through the cross and able through the resurrection. Our problem lies in the fact that, like the leper, we’re still stuck on He is able. For some reason, we get stuck on redemption of the spirit and never fully include redemption of the soul. Yet on the cross, Jesus told us it is finished. The price for sin is death. If the Gospel related to our spiritual condition alone, all that was required was for Jesus to die. His body did not have to be subjected to the whip, the crown, and the nails to achieve that. His spiritual agony was for spiritual redemption. Physical redemption was purchased through His physical agony. To exclude the soul is to halve the power of His complete, perfect victory through the cross and resurrection.
Reaching the place of Jesus is willing.
It is, of course, important to know that Jesus is able. Unlike the leper, we have this assurance in the reality of the power of the resurrection. This is our living testimony that the Son of God overcame everything and it is indeed finished. But knowing that is insufficient. We need to push through those things that cloud the equally powerful truth that Jesus is willing. One of the greatest hindrances is the unconscious acceptance that healing, for example, falls under the ‘signs and wonders’ that confirm the Gospel to the unbeliever. Yet Jesus Himself tells us that healing and deliverance is ‘the childrens’ bread’ – our daily staple for life. Our churches daily make ‘excuses’ for God, the greatest being a failure to receive healing must be His will. Yet Jesus has already proved His perfect will – and suffered and died doing it. What more proof do we need?
Ignorance of the Word is often what causes us to perish. Isaiah 53:5 leaves no room to doubt the full measure of the Gospel. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Because we don’t know the Word for ourselves we accept the limitations imposed by the interpretation of others. We lack the audacious faith that recognises that it is our need that will bring us to the place of Jesus is willing. He went to the cross to meet our need, and it is our need that brings us to the cross. Instead of ‘blaming God’ by denying what He has already proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, we need to shut out the ‘voices of reason’ and pursue Christ alone. What God says is all that matters.
In the place of Jesus is willing.
One simple fact stands out like a shining light to encourage us. We cannot imagine what went through this leper’s mind as he made what must have seemed like an impossibly long journey through the crowd. He no doubt sensed the disapproval of those around him – their indignation, even, that one so unclean should have the audacity to approach Christ. But when He reached Jesus, He worshipped. We need to take hold of this. We worship Christ when we acknowledge Him as He really is – the Son of God who suffered and died for the complete redemption of mankind. True worship does not exclude half of the Gospel. It does not limit the work of the Son of God to spiritual salvation. When we leave out even a smidgeon of what He accomplished, we diminish Him and His work.
What we’re effectively saying is that while He is able, Jesus was not willing to complete His perfect work of redemption. Jesus was gracious to the leper because He didn’t have the finished work of the cross and the resurrection as his living example. We, however, do. Our need gets us past the limitations of the world, the church, ignorance and misunderstanding, and natural expectations. The way is open because Jesus came to meet the need. That is sufficient to bring us into the place of Jesus is willing. Once there, it is worship that releases the full reality that Jesus is willing. Only when we approach the Son of God and worship Him as He truly is will we receive all that He has done. At this point, it’s no longer even about faith. When we worship at the cross, celebrating all it encompasses, we worship the real Jesus.
Do we know that Jesus is willing?
This is the question every believer must ask. It’s heart knowledge, not head knowledge, and is only gained through the Word and the Spirit. We could just as easily ask: Which Jesus do I worship? The one who is able, or the Jesus who is willing and able? This truth applies to our every need, not just healing. The Gospel is the complete and perfect answer to every human need. Think of the leper for a moment. His needs went beyond simple healing of the body. There was loneliness, rejection, isolation, hopelessness, heartache, and inadequacy. All of these were met on the cross. If we still lack what has already been bought and paid for by the Son of God Himself, it’s time to stop making excuses for God. It’s time for audacious faith that pushes through to the real Jesus in pure worship.
Sweet Saviour, forgive us. We confess, Lord, that we have inadvertently allowed circumstances, wrong assumptions, misleading teaching, and our own ignorance to diminish Your work on the cross. We choose, this morning, to push through the worldly hindrances and to fix our eyes on You and who You really are. As we come in worship, move within us through Your Holy Spirit and grant us a full revelation of the cross and resurrection. Thank You, Lord, that You are willing and able to meet every need we bring before You. We lift You up and honour You, trusting only in Your perfect, complete work as revealed through Your Word.