One day, in downtown Montgomery, I saw a homeless stranger sitting on a bench. Because of his haggard appearance, I walked past him without acknowledging him. A half-hour later, a friend and I were walking toward a coffee shop. Suddenly, he sat down next to somebody. To my astonishment, my...
A man with leprosy came to [Jesus] and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. (Mark 1:40-42, NIV)
This man received what Jesus Christ offered to do for him, and his interaction with Jesus shows how you can receive what Christ offers to you.
How to Make “the Ask” of Jesus Christ
1. Faith: You must believe in Christ.
“You can make me clean.” (v. 40)
This man has confidence in the ability of Christ: “You can make me clean.” Faith is not your ability to trust. Faith is recognizing that Christ is trustworthy. Faith is like a hand open to receive what God promises. Without faith you do not receive anything from God.
Faith involves trusting Christ for yourself: “You can make me clean.” His faith was more than a general belief that Christ can heal people. He believed Christ could cleanse him.
Maybe you have seen Christ change someone else’s life. You’ve seen it, so you know that Christ can change people. But faith is believing that Christ can do the same for you.
2. Desire: You must want to be clean.
This is a story of a man who was healed of leprosy. But there’s much more. The word “clean” is of significance. The man does not say, “If you are willing, you can heal me.” He says, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Lepers were excluded from the community because their disease was so highly infectious. They were also excluded from the worship of God. So this man is living his life cut off from God and his people.
Leprosy in the Bible is a powerful picture of our sinful condition. Sin causes a loss of feeling and a loss of function to the soul, as leprosy causes a loss of feeling and function to the body. Sin wastes the soul as leprosy wastes the body.
When this man says, “You can make me clean,” he is saying, “You can deliver me from this alienation from God. You can give me a place among God’s people. Jesus, you can save me from this body of death. You can give new strength to these wasting limbs. You can make me a new man. And you can give me a new life.”
This is a marvelous picture of what God promises in the gospel.
If you are to receive what Christ promises, you must come to him with faith, and with a desire to be clean. Spurgeon says:
There are some folks who want to be saved from hell but not from the sin that is the cause of it. Christ’s salvation is cleansing from sin, and if we love sin we are not saved from it. We cannot have justification without sanctification. There’s nothing to quibble about; there must be a change, a radical change, a change of heart, or else we are not saved. I put it to you now, ‘Do you desire a moral and a spiritual change, a change of life, thought and motive?’ This is what Jesus gives. (C. H. Spurgeon, The Lord and the Leper)
3. Humility: You must come and ask.
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” (v. 40)
There was only one question in this man’s mind when he came to Jesus: “Are you willing?” He knows Christ has the ability, but does he have the will?
So he came to Christ and asked—he begged him. There’s humility here. This man isn’t trying to negotiate. He isn’t saying, “Jesus you owe me. Look at my life—why did you let this happen to me?” He isn’t saying, “Jesus, if you do this for me, I’ll do that for you.” The man came to Christ and begged him on his knees!
What does the Son of God need that anyone can give to him? Some people are so absorbed with themselves that they are always asking, “Why should I be interested in Christ?” This man sees the real question: “Why should Christ be interested in me?”
Becoming a Christian is not about you doing something great for Christ. It’s about Christ doing something great for you. If you come to Christ thinking you’re offering him something special, you will never receive anything from him.
Get to the point with Jesus Christ today. Cut through the fog of a vague faith that makes little difference. Bring Christ to the point of your need. Get to “the ask.” Ask him to give you what you do not have. Ask him to make you clean. And when you ask, believe in him. Trust him to change you.
Are You Ready?
Are you ready to come to Christ like that today?
When you come to him, believing in his ability to change your life, with a desire to be clean, and when you ask him to do what he has promised, he will have compassion on you (v. 41); he will reach out to you, as he did the leper (v. 41); and he will speak to you.
“I am willing. Be clean!” (v. 41)
Mark records: “Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured” (v. 42). When Christ speaks to you, the promise becomes yours. When he says, “Be forgiven,” you are forgiven. And when he says, “Be clean,” you are clean.
I invite you to make this promise yours today.