Lessons in Patience and Obedience

“Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”  Matthew 8:3

Matthew’s account of the ministry of Christ reveals that as Jesus was coming down from the mountain he’d been preaching upon that he was approached by a leper. With the presence of the crowd surrounding Jesus it must have been impossible for this man to gain access to Jesus earlier, but his desperate situation and the hope for healing at the hand of Jesus had made him wait until he could bring Jesus his request. 

The patience of this man as he sought healing from our Savior stands as a testimony and a rebuke to many of us. The old proverb is true, “patience is a virtue,” but so few of us really possess it, and it seems that everything about our society teaches us less and less to have the steadfast tranquility and resolve that together combine to become patience. 

Isaiah chapter forty tells us that it’s they that “wait” upon the Lord that renew their strength, that go up on eagles wings, that walk and run without tiring or fainting. A willingness to wait, an ability to be patient, is often necessary if we’re to receive the blessing we seek from heaven. 

At last, as Jesus descends the mountain, a path is made clear for the leper and he came and knelt on the ground before him and worshipped him and said, “Lord, if you are willing you can make me clean.”

Nothing is impossible for God. No task to difficult, no need to great. But just because something is possible, even easily accomplished, does that always make it the wisest course to take? Might there be an even greater blessing to be gained if some unpleasant condition were to remain. When we seek the will of God we’re asking him to give us his best, not the best we can imagine. Are we ready to submit our wants and wishes to the wisdom of Jesus?

Jesus’ will for the leper was that he be made whole and immediately he was healed. Then Jesus told him to go and show himself to the priest to receive a declaration of being free of leprosy and to tell no one that he’d been healed by Jesus.  But the man only partially obeyed. Mark tells us that as he left he freely told everyone that he’d been healed by Jesus and widely spread the news of his healing. The result was that Jesus could no longer go into the cities. Great multitudes flocked to him and he had no choice but to work in the country side where there was room for the crowds. 

Sometimes we hinder the work of God by our disobedience. It may seem a small thing at the time. It may not make sense to us that we should be asked to do something different than we’d naturally want to do. God doesn’t require us to understand but he does command us to obey, and our obedience will bring the best outcome for everyone. 

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