Thursday, January 24, 2008

Truth - Jesus, the leper, and Zacchaeus

This week's Bible lesson on Truth continues with three incidents where Truth eliminated error. The two I'll pray with today concern an inner problem. Tomorrow I'll work with Jesus stilling the storm, an challenge coming from outside of oneself.

Lepers were treated with contempt and fear. It was believed that the rotting on the outside of the body indicated some great sin committed on the inside. There were different degrees of the disease but the worst cases were required to wear a bell and announce their presence by calling 'unclean, unclean' for any contact with them would make one unclean as well. It was an awful existence, cut off from any human contact. On this day, Jesus was already out and about mingling with the multitude. Moved with compassion for them, he was healing the sick. Then a leper approaches, a sinner. Jesus did not accept the picture of illness or the belief that it had become a part of someone. Now he faced this man and did not accept the picture of decay or the belief that this man was a sinner. Only God could heal this man, the physicians of that time had no known cure.

Notice how the leper treated Jesus. He worshipped him, recognizing his status as the son of God. He addresses him as Lord. He believes that Jesus has the power to work this cure. He is only unsure if Jesus would be willing to do this for him. What a gracious answer and how lovingly it must have been spoken. I will. Be clean. With compassion, Jeus reaches out and touches the man, knowing he cannot be contaminated by what is not there. And with that, immediately, the leperousy was gone.

In the next section of the lesson, Jesus is again confronted with a sinner. This time it is someone from the higher levels of society, but he too is looked down upon for his profession as a publican.
Zacchaeus was chief among those in the custom house, where money was exchanged. Yet this man wanted so much to see Jesus that he threw aside his dignity and climbed a tree to see over the crowd. He is seeking Jesus in his own way without directly approaching him. But Jesus sensed his receptivity, paused under that tree and told him to hurry down for he was going to eat dinner at his house tonight. And he announced this in front of the crowd who surely knew Zacchaeus' reputation. This city of Jericho had many priests and temples so it was significant that Jesus chose instead to dine with this man. The shortened version of the story skips over the feast and anything Jesus might said. But the result is clear. After the feast or even the next day, Zacchaeus stood up to proclaim his conversion. He is now prepared to make good and atone for his previous actions. This healing had widespread effects for those around him were amazed and converted as well, his family and household servants.

Do you hold in thought the belief that you are unworthy because of some past or present way of thinking? Are you laboring under some long-term physical problem that seems incurable? Have you committed unjust acts in your past that cause others to think of you as a sinner? Mrs. Eddy writes on page 411 of Science and Health "Whatever is cherished in mortal mind as the physical condition is imaged forth on the body." What image of yourself are you cherishing?, holding as true? Maybe it is time to turn to the Christ and be willing to let it go. Be willing to be forgiven and change your ways. Come to see yourself as He sees you, free from sin and sickness. It is never too late and the results can be immediate.

Be at peace.

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