In our passion play we have this scene:
The leper walked toward the crowd, ringing her gong and saying “UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN!” The crowd draws away in fear with an audible gasp. The leper’s cry is a horrific recognition that she is outcast from society. It’s a terrible paradox: she must proclaim her desperate state in order to protect the society that she is outcast from because of her state. The leper’s existence is miserable. She is confined to loneliness, yet surrounded by people who avoid her at all cost, whom she must also avoid in order not to taint them.
As she approached the crowd, one man stands apart. He walks toward her. She draws back shaking her head and saying, “Unclean!” As if to say, “can’t you see that I can’t be around you, I’m doing this for you, can’t you see I’m keeping myself from you!?” This man insists motioning with his hand indicating that it is ok, and she need not back away. Confused, the leper stands still as the man lays his hands on her head and she is made clean! Rejoicing! She can be a part of society. She is clean.
We sometimes feel as though we cannot share our struggles with our church or we will taint it. Although often our motives are less for the holiness of the society and more for some ideal picture that we convince ourselves we are preserving. We hide our sins and our struggles, we mask our depression and weakness, we cover over our failures and lacking, we convince ourselves that we are protecting everyone else and preserving out society. It is a miserable state. Lonely in the midst of people who are all masking their sins in order to preserve the community. But we have a great healer. You live in community with other believers so that Christ could cleanse you of your sin, and you could find victory over this death and life in His body! We are to approach our struggles directly within our community and Christ will work through us for the victory.
The beauty of this portrait is in the leper’s cry. She recognizes that she is unclean, that she is tainted with a disease, a death that she cannot get off. The crowd’s response is to run away, but Jesus attacks the death head on. No depth of disease can stop Him and she cannot back away far enough for Him to stop His advance! Her cry of “UNCLEAN!” cannot keep Him at bay. She cannot stay His hand, He is not afraid of the death she is covered in. He deals with that which taints her and cleanses her directly. She will never deal with that death again. For those who believe, this is our story.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Hallelujah!!! We are clean!