A devotional by Gail Kittleson
Luke tells many stories of healing. In Luke 5:12-16, Jesus heals a leper, but first, he astounds onlookers by touching the ill man’s skin. It was unheard of in that day to come close to a leper because his dread disease might become your affliction. People would think you had lost your mind.
Lepers, with fingers and toes that were often eaten away by their wasting disease, were cast out of the community, and even had to cry “Unclean!” when they traversed public places. No one approached one of them.
Well aware of these circumstances and societal rules, Jesus might have healed the leper from a distance away. He might have given the divine gift of health without coming in contact with the man. But He deliberately chose to contact him, skin-to-skin. We can only imagine how long it had been since the diseased man had felt human touch, or what Jesus’ action meant to him. We can imagine tears burning his eyes.
And what a message that touch proclaimed to those who were watching this scenario unfold! After the healing, Jesus instructed the healed man to present himself to the priest and offer a thank offering according to the law rather than spread the news of his healing verbally.
The Message Bible translates the result: “But the man couldn’t keep it to himself, and the word got out.” We can certainly understand that—this renewed health forever altered his life! The news resulted in more crowds seeking healing.
In storytelling, we aim for smooth transitions so the tale flows without a hitch such as sentences that seem out of place. I find them all the time when I’m editing. But in this story, Luke leaves in one glaring misfit.
Before he proceeds to describe the healing of a paraplegic, Luke writes, “As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.” Luke 5:16 (MSG) What does this have to do with the flow of his account?
Editing this chapter for smoothness, we’d have to remove this sentence. It would have to go because it clearly doesn’t fit the narrative.
But what would Jesus say about that decision? Something like, “Fit or not, those times away formed the foundation of my ministry—they were the source of my strength.”
My Prayer: Remind us today, Father, that we are never too busy, even with ministry, to seek You. Show us that whether times alone with You seem to fit into our lives or not, we need to withdraw to a quiet place with You and soak in Your mercy and love.
When Gail Kittleson's not steeped in World War II research, drafting scenes, or deep in an edit of her 1940’s novels, she does a limited amount of editing for other authors.
She also facilitates writing and creativity workshops, both in Iowa and Arizona, where she and her husband like to spend part of the winter in the amazing Ponderosa pine forest under the Mogollon Rim.
Favorites: spending time with grandchildren, walking, reading, meeting new people, and hearing from readers who fall in love with her characters.