DayBreaks for 6/27/17: The Immaculate Infection
From the DayBreaks archive, 2007
Most Christians have heard of, and understand, what is referred to as the “immaculate conception” – the begetting of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit rather than through the normal human means of reproduction. It is a fundamental aspect of Christ’s divinity that cannot be bypassed or glossed over. If Jesus was begotten through human agency rather than through the Holy Spirit of God that came upon the virgin Mary, well…Jesus then is just like the rest of us in our humanity and he would not have been divine. It would have made God out to be a liar because His word said that a “virgin shall conceive”. We should never underestimate the importance of the virgin birth and divine nature of Christ!
But there’s another interesting thing that we should consider about this Jesus that we worship and follow. John Ortberg, with his brilliant insight, pointed it out in his book, Love Beyond Reason, when he was describing the leper that came to Jesus with a strange request: “If you choose, you can make me clean.” There are several fascinating things about this story:
FIRST: it was the leper who approached Jesus, not the other way around. (We shouldn’t take that to mean that Jesus wouldn’t have approached him, but some step of faith on our part is always welcomed by Jesus.) By law, the leper’s job was to keep himself separated from those who were not infected with that horrible disease. And, by practice, the rabbis who had so committed themselves to following the law in all its minute detail, made it a point to keep themselves separated from others lest they should become infected by the sinfulness of others. But this man chose to ignore the demands of the law as taught by the rabbis…and he approached Jesus. His faith was on display, but an even greater display of faith was on the horizon.
SECOND: what the man says to Jesus is fascinating. He doesn’t say, “Perhaps you can make me clean.” No, he’s much more honest and faith-filled than that. He said, “If you CHOOSE you can make me clean.” There was no doubting of Jesus’ ability or power. This man believed with all his heart that Jesus could heal him. The issue, as he saw it, was one of willingness on the part of Jesus. “If you choose…” Why was this the issue for the man? Several points might be productive to consider: 1) maybe he’d seen Jesus operate before, noting that sometimes he chose to heal and at other times he didn’t – he recognized Jesus’ sovereignty; 2) he might have been unsure of Jesus’ willingness to be approached, perhaps fearful that Jesus would be repulsed by the leprosy and as so many other rabbis had done – shrink away and leave the man behind; 3) this man was used to being ignored and knew that nearly everyone he’d ever met had chosen not to be near him. Would Jesus be the same?
THIRD: we see the heart of God on display. Rather than being concerned about his own health and the risk of infection by leprosy, Jesus chose to infect the leprous man with Life! It wasn’t like John Coffee in the movie, The Green Mile, who had the special ability to take disease away from someone and into his own body. The man’s leprosy did not pass into Jesus, but as the text says, it was completely gone! What did pass between the two men was life…and it flowed from Jesus into the body of the dying, diseased man. This, Ortberg says, was “the immaculate infection.”
It wasn’t just this man, however, who has been infected in such a way. All who come to Jesus through faith, come saying “If you choose, you can make me clean!” Praise be to God, Jesus chooses to do that very thing! Let all that is within us praise God for the infection we’ve caught from Jesus!!!!!
John 5:24 (NIV) – I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
PRAYER: Jesus, thank you that you choose to heal us even as we ooze and reek from sin! Thank you that you choose us to infect us with your life! May we, in turn, pass the infection on until all the world comes to know you as Lord and Savior! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>