“While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’ And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him.” Luke 5:12-13
There is much that is moving about this man, an outcast from society. He probably kept his own face down and hidden as much as possible, since he was likely disfigured and strange from diseased skin. His only view of others’ facial expressions over the years would likely have mirrored his own soul ache and disgust at his condition: horror, repulsion, or at best, disdain.
But then came a man who was different. There was something about His voice, the humble, kind way He interacted with the marginalized, His compassion and unhurried tempo, the power that flowed from Him. It was said He came to set people free from oppression and disease, and this leper was captive to both. Maybe he could face Him. He watched Him among the crowd, and wanted to get closer. Drawn by the magnet of His compassion, he bravely made his way toward Him to make his request. He knew this man Jesus could heal him, and hoped He was willing. But when he actually saw Him, he fell face down in an inseparable move of reverence and shame. (Luke 4:18,31-41)
This leper knew what it was not to belong, to be rejected and unloved. This was a man who knew he did not deserve grace, and there was nothing he could do to earn Jesus’s favor. Yet, because of what he knew about this anointed Wonder-worker, he approached, in the humblest faith. His ugly body bowed, His marred face down, unworthy, before God in the flesh. That face was hidden but his faith was not. It was bold, even brash- “if you will, you can!” And Jesus did.
The effect of falling facedown is glorious. It is an honest expression of the truth about us: we are marred people all. It wins us an audience with the blessed Sovereign, and begs for mercy from the lowest place of absolute necessity- the very place mercy enters and thrives. And Jesus comes there, lifts our repaired visage, and makes us whole. (Ephesians 2:1-8; Romans 3:23)
Have we come to recognize our depravity before the perfect Savior, that we are spoiled from the inside out? Are we so confident of the loving Lord’s goodness and power that we bring all our regret and bitterness and shame to His nail-scarred feet, and beg to be made clean? Are we willing to put aside what others think, all we value of the world, and our naturally greatest assets, before the only Asset that matters?
Lord, keep me prostrate in heart, my face bowed in reverence and reflecting Your countenance. May I be a living expression of Your healing, freeing power.