DayBreaks for 2/13/20: We Lepers
From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:
In his book, God is Closer Than You Think, John Ortberg relates the following story:
“Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers. He moved to Kalawao—a village on the island of Molokai, in Hawaii, that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony. For 16 years, he lived in their midst. He learned to speak their language. He bandaged their wounds, embraced the bodies no one else would touch, preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone. He organized schools, bands, and choirs. He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter. He built 2,000 coffins by hand so that, when they died, they could be buried with dignity. Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope.
“Father Damien was not careful about keeping his distance. He did nothing to separate himself from his people. He dipped his fingers in the poi bowl along with the patients. He shared his pipe. He did not always wash his hands after bandaging open sores. He got close. For this, the people loved him.
“Then one day he stood up and began his sermon with two words: “We lepers….”
“Now he wasn’t just helping them. Now he was one of them. From this day forward, he wasn’t just on their island; he was in their skin. First he had chosen to live as they lived; now he would die as they died. Now they were in it together.
“One day God came to Earth and began his message: “We lepers….” Now he wasn’t just helping us. Now he was one of us. Now he was in our skin. Now we were in it together.
Identification. I don’t mean your driver’s license or social security number – I mean knowing who you are – is very important. If I find myself in a struggle with something, I go to someone who I believe can identify with my struggle so we can speak a common language into one another’s ear. I don’t go to someone who I believe will not have any sense of what I’m talking about or going through. To do so would be foolish, at best, and downright harmful because we may get very incorrect advice!
Jesus knew when he came that he would have to become like one of us. Not just someone with a physical body containing 2 legs, 2 arms, 2 eyes, a nose, ears and mouth. He knew he would have to become JUST like us in all respects. The writer of the Hebrew letter understood this: For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:17-18
It wouldn’t be enough to just look like us and sound like us. He had to be made like his brothers “in every way” so that He would understand the misery and despair and desperation of the human heart. I find verse 18 interesting: he suffered when He was tempted. Sometimes we may have the idea that Jesus rather easily and flippantly threw off temptation. Perhaps he did, perhaps the “suffering” described in Hebrews 2:18 was generalized suffering brought on by the very nature of the Incarnation, but I believe this goes beyond generalized suffering.
When we are tempted, really, truly tempted, and we resist it, we suffer an emotional and spiritual torment of sorts. We WANT what is tempting us. And we want it BADLY. It is painful to say “No!” It hurts to be obedient. But it never hurts as badly as disobedience.
In the final analysis, Jesus went a step beyond what we experience. We experience sin as sinners. Jesus didn’t just experience sin, but He “became sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). It is in all these experiences that Jesus stands before the throne of the Father, pleading the case for us, “We humans…”.
PRAYER: We will never understand all that you took on to be our Savior, Lord – the humiliation, the pain, the suffering – all because your love refused to let us go. Thank you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>