(By Diego Cuartas)
A reality that is central to Christmas is that Jesus came to trade places with us.
There is a story, found in Mark 1:40-45, which tells of a man who had leprosy and was healed by Jesus. The story actually indicates that the man was labeled "unclean" because a person with leprosy, back in that society, was considered defiled and unclean. A person with leprosy was pretty much considered an outcast and was avoided by others. To touch someone with leprosy was to become unclean.
Perhaps there are things in your life that you or others consider "unclean" or undesirable to say the least. Things that make you isolate from others or hide behind some reality or behavior that helps you, in your mind, look better or more presentable to others. What is that thing you wish was not part of who you are?
So Jesus, the Son of God, enters our world, in the most humble possible way, in order to get close to the leper, close to you, and close to me. He gets so close that he is willing to "touch" what others reject in us. So in the story, Jesus touches the leper with great compassion and responds to the request the man made: "if you will, you can make me clean." Jesus addresses the man, touches the man and says "I will, be clean!." This is exactly what Jesus wants to do in your life and mine. He is close, he wants to touch the places that are broken in our lives and with great compassion wants to release the willingness and power to heal us. That is pretty close, isn't?
Have you ever been touched (impacted) by someone that deeply and that compassionately? This is one of many stories where Jesus, the humble Christmas Savior, moves towards the underserving and yet in need as he compassionately considers their condition. Where in your life would you like Jesus to touch and alter your reality?
I can't help but tell you that it gets even better! Let's recap first: Jesus came into this world. He got pretty close to the leper man. He is attentive to his request. He stretches out his hand and touches him and willingly heals the man. Boom! The guy is made clean. No more rejection. This man has been reintegrated into social life miraculously--not to mention, his sickness is gone! But there is one more thing Jesus does. Jesus asks the man keep this quiet and to fulfill the requirements expected before the town leaders. The man couldn't help it but go about telling everyone about this miraculous encounter with Jesus. As a result, Jesus is hindered from entering the town and remains in the place of the leper experiencing seclusion.
Jesus will do the same for you! He entered this world. Came close to you in fleshly form. He is willing to touch the undesirable realities of your life. And he will even trade places with you. Well....he actually did it already, at the Cross! Learn from the rest of the people in the story. They went seeking Jesus even though he took the place of the leper. They looked for him because they learned that only such PERSON would dare to touch the "unclean"!
If he touches you, you will never be the same.
May that happen in your life this Christmas!