FROM LEPER TO LEAPER
“Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”
On the anniversary of my fifth year at the lepers’ colony, I learnt that Jesus was in the region. I knew this was my only chance to be healed. There was no way I would let it go. No way.
“Shut up! You are making noise. The Master does not have time for people like you. He has more important things to do. His disciples were heard saying they are headed for Samaria. Don’t waste your time.” The passer-by’s remarks would have deflated me on a normal day. However, this was no normal day. This was the day I would get my healing.
Tehilah, a fellow leper, joined me as I continued shouting. The other lepers remained at the colony. They felt people like us stood no chance because of the crowds that followed Jesus.
The serenity around snapped me back to reality. It was then I noticed the crowd had stopped. What!!! Jesus!!! He was walking towards us!!!!
“What do you want me to do for you?” He asked, reaching out to us, with a smile on his face. Tehilah looked at me with his eyes wide open; it was obvious he could not believe what was happening. “Master, we want healing. We want to be whole again. Have mercy on us, Rabbi.”
With a touch, the pain was gone. My skin felt as smooth as a baby’s skin. I had my miracle! A sideways glance revealed that I was not alone. We had our miracle! The compassion in his eyes made me cry. “Thank you, Rabbi! Thank you!! Wherever you go, we follow”, Tehilah shouted.
“You can follow me, Tehilah. I have a different assignment for you, Thaddeus. Go back to Decapolis and tell your people about me. Let them know that the kingdom of God is now among men.”
Thirty minutes had passed after Christ and the crowd continued their journey, but I was still surprised. Still sitting on the dusty road, I kept touching my skin. Maybe it was a dream. How could this have happened? How? A few hours ago, I was a leper but now… I stood up and attempted to jump. I jumped! Ah-mazing! From leper to leaper. Truly, the Messiah is here. Immanuel! God with us.
My first point of call was the lepers’ colony. The people with whom I had shared my life experiences over the last four years. Ahaniel screamed as I made my way to the room which I called home. The others joined in, with varying levels of disbelief and laughter. The coarse feel of their bodies against mine was slightly repulsive. I shook my head in disbelief. I had been like them for years.
They asked about Tehilah. I told them he had also been healed, after which he joined Jesus on His journey. The looks on their faces told the story. Joy mixed with disappointment.
“Help us, Thad. Take us to the Christ. We also want to be healed. Please help us.” Helikiah blurted. The expectant looks on their faces made me sad. The Messiah would already be at Samaria, a city two hours away from here. Also, there was no assurance that we would meet him there. Even if we did, what was the guarantee that he would notice us? Also, would he be happy with me? He had instructed me to go back home to Decapolis. Would I not be a disobedient person?
There was nothing I could do to help these ones. Nothing.
“You can pray for them”
I looked around to see who spoke with such confidence. There was no one.
“Thaddeus, pray for them.”
For a minute, I thought I was going crazy. My friends were still talking but this voice was not from them. It was strong but sweet. It seemed like a loud whisper. Who was talking to me?
With nothing else to do, I told my friends that we needed to pray. Adronicus spoke, “If you don’t want to help us, why not say so? Why waste our time with words that make no difference. Are you a Pharisee? Or a teacher of the law? What effect would your prayer have on us? Don’t you want us to be healed?”
The urgency in the voice was clear. I knew it was time for prayers. I didn’t know what to expect, so I closed my eyes. “Jesus, son of David. Rabbi. Ropheka! Thank you for stopping on your way to Samaria to attend to my case. Thank you for healing me. Also, I am grateful that you healed Tehilah. Dear Lord, please heal my friends who are here. There is no limit to your power. We have heard about the miracle of the centurion’s servant. You spoke a word and the man’s servant was healed. Lord, please heal. Abba, have mercy on us. Amen.”
As I opened my eyes, I expected to see restored skin on my friends. Sadly, nothing had changed. While five of them tried to comfort me as they could sense my disappointment, Adronicus was indignant. “I told you it would make no difference. Can you see now?” I paid no attention to him. I wondered if the voice I heard was my imagination. Why did I make a fool of myself? The Master had told me to return home, maybe that was why He did not answer my prayer.
I was no longer comfortable with my friends. Out of shame more than anything else. I told them I would return to greet them before I set out for Decapolis. Tomorrow was Sabbath and there would be no one at the market, so I had to get there before sunset.
Suddenly, I heard footsteps behind me. I knew better than to turn. Robbers were known to operate in the area. There was nothing with me but the coins I had gotten from begging. Not that the criminals would know that. I picked up pace, but the footsteps were gaining ground on me. Then, I heard my name. “Thad! Wait. We are the ones.” I turned. What I saw shocked me. My friends had been made whole! We cried and hugged each other. They told me the healing happened a few minutes after I left the colony. “Yeshua Hamashiach! Yeshua Hamashiach!!” I shouted with tears in my eyes.
Amidst the celebration, I noticed something. Adronicus was not with us. “Where is Adronicus? What happened to him? Was he not healed?” Their silence told the story. For a moment, I felt it served him right. His words of mockery had hurt me. But then, I realized that I was just a sinner who had found the Saviour. It was not my role to judge another.
“Friends, let’s return to the colony. Adro also needs to be healed” They were surprised. “He got what he deserved. His unbelief was the reason he wasn’t healed. You have been vindicated.” I shook my head. “No, brothers. I have been healed and forgiven by the Master. I don’t have any justification to rejoice at the plight of another. Let’s go. One more leper needs to leap for joy.”
Looking back for the final time, I said goodbye to Galilee, the city I had called home for four years. I was brought here a year after I became a leper. Abandoned and rejected. Today, I was leaving the town completely healed. Jesus made the difference. I wondered if He kept my family.