“12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy.[b] When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14 Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5.12-16
We find a particular circular pattern of behavior in this and recent narratives of Jesus. It goes like this — People come to him who are in need. They often demonstrate faith by reaching out to Jesus. Jesus sees the need, heals the sick. More and more people come to Jesus who hear his words and find healing from his hands. Jesus withdrawals to lonely or quiet places to pray.
The more Jesus works for God, the more he retreats to quiet places. The more he preaches, the more he heals, the more miracles he performs, the greater the popularity, the more Jesus escapes to gain strength from the Father. What does this say about Jesus and what does this say to us who are Christ followers who are in modern ministry?
After this healing, though, word gets out. News about him spreads like wild fire and so large crowds of people “came to hear him and to be healed of their sickness.” It reminds me of the political boat parades hosted in honor of former President Trump. People came out of the wood work to support a cause they believed in.
This specific instance, a man who “was covered with leprosy” finds Jesus. The man demonstrates faith by 1) falling to the ground and 2) begging Jesus, “Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean.” I can only imagine that Jesus is filled with compassion at this response because he promptly replies, “I am willing. Be clean!” I love this response by Jesus! He’s like, “I’m all in. Let’s do this!”
The bigger the crowds, the more Jesus in his humanity needed strength from the Father. The more they pressed in on him, the more frequent he would retreat to a place all by himself, pray and rest. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed,” v. 16.
Is this also our pattern of behavior? When the world crushes in, when the storms of life hit, do we go to the Lord or find other means, not so healthy, to shelter our stress?
Why not follow the example of Jesus who went often into prayer with the Father. His “escapes” allowed him to continue finding strength for the moments that would lie ahead. Do yours?
“O Lord God, you are good, I am so thankful for the power of your Holy Spirit who fills my heart with joy and helps me rise above temptation, tragedy and sin. I thank you for the grace you exhibit within this world that you would reach out to humanity and help us walk with you. Thank you for the strength you gave Jesus and would give us that we might walk as you walked and be in ministry to all. Come now, Father God, renew your servant. Help me bring you glory in all things. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen