Friday, April 23, 2010

Clean Man cont.


The sacrifice was finished and Bartholomew turned and ran for the gate to the outer court. As he went through the gate his precious wife was waiting for him She put the littlest one on the ground and as Bartholomew drew close she threw herself into his arms. He buried his head in her hair and picking her up from the ground he spoke into her ear, "I'm clean, I'm clean and I will never leave you again". With their tears mingling together on their faces Bartholomew gathered up both children in his arms. His wife stood amazed and had forgotten how strong her man really was.

With both children in his arms the oldest child spoke words his heart melted over, "Daddy, Daddy we love you and we missed you so much. Oh Daddy hold onto us and promise never to leave us again." With his face wet with tears and his voice choking he told his wife and children that Jesus made him better. That, Jesus is a man sent to us from the Lord Jehovah to rescue his people.

Bartholomew and his family went home. Each day he rejoiced for the miracle Jesus gave to him. He knew it was so much more than clean skin that was his gift. His heart was filled with hope and in his soul he knew that the Lord Jehovah cared for his people. He thanked the Lord each day for his children and his lovely wife. He was so happy to wake before the dawn and look at his wife, watch her breathe and feel her warmth. He promised himself that he would never forget what it was like to be alone, sleep on the ground and shiver in the cold.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Clean Man cont.

As Bartholomew ran down the street he was smiling and soon he was laughing. His laughter turned into a spirit written psalm of praise. His words following him down the street, "I'm clean, I'm clean, and my skin is as pure as the day the Lord brought me forth from the womb". He was running down the street that led to the temple. The Great Temple, Herod's temple was just minutes away and so was his freedom and his family. In the outer court he would have to but the required sacrifice. How would he find the money to buy the two turtle doves that were required of the poor? He knew that some how the Lord Jehovah would provide for him. If Jesus the Man from God had healed him then there would be friend or relative who would help him with the meager coins.

As Bartholomew headed for the temple his wife was nearing the gate. As she approached one of the men addressed her. With her head covered and avoiding eye contact she listened as the man told her that the leper was healed and running to the temple. With hope filling her heart she turned from the elderly man and headed for the temple. The two children, one held close and one held by the hand didn't slow her as the pounding of her heart was from excitement and not exertion.

The Clean Man entered the outer court of the Great Temple. Now the song was in his heart and not on his lips as he looked for a friend or family member to help him with the coins. The court yard was filled with people and he knew that he still needed to keep his distance and not draw attention to his condition. His skin was pure and clean but his robes were tattered and filthy. From a distance he heard a voice as sweet as the Jasmine in the summer. It was the voice of his precious wife calling out to him. He turned to see her running to him, one of his precious ones in her arms and the other by the hand. Within cubits of embracing Bartholomew stopped. He told his wife that first he must go to the priest and make the sacrifice. He didn't want any bystander to accuse him of not keeping the law. Within seconds seconds his wife reached into her inner robe and produced two coins. She set them on the ground in front of her and Bartholomew bent down, picking them up he clutched them tightly knowing they were the most precious two coins he ever held onto.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Clean Man cont.

She hurried into her house and came back out the door in mere seconds. She had one of her children by the hand and the littlest one she had scooped up into her arms as his little feetcould not move fast enough. She ran past the crowd with her precious children talking about their daddy and Jesus. She ran down the dusty road as fast as she could. Her mind was flooded with questions and images. Could it be real? Could my husband be clean? Would a man from God really care enough about my husband to touch his body? As she ran she envisioned Bartholomew standing clean and strong. Tears ran down her face and onto the hand of the little one that clung to her with his face nuzzled into her neck.

Even as Bartholomew's wife was racing to meet him he was still standing. He looked as if he was in a trance, or a dream waiting to wake up. Wake up to the leprosy covering his body. But it wasn't a dream and he wasn't in a trance. As he looked at the clean skin he knew what he must do. The Law of Moses was very specific about leprosy and those who were healed. He had to show himself to the priest and present a sacrifice as the law demanded. As he headed to the gate his pace began to quicken. It had been so many months since he passed through the gate, this time he didn't even look up at the massive walls. He was running now, his legs working better with each stride. As he ran past the shops people turned to look at him and many commented that he was the leper that Jesus the Nazarene had touched.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Clean Man cont.

Even as Bartholomew knelt in the tear dampened dust of the road news of his healing spread like wildfire through dry grass. The words of Jesus actually touching a leper spread down the streets. Some of the witnesses told of how the man, Bartholomew, his skin changed right in front of their eyes. The scabs disappeared in seconds and clean pure skin took its place. In minutes the news was down Bartholomew's street. His wife heard the commotion outside in the street and went to find out what was going on. As she stepped out onto the street the eyes of everyone who had been talking focused on her. No one spoke for a moment. Then she heard a whisper, she is the wife of the leper.

Fear and dread gripped her by the throat. Why would they be talking about her husband? As her mind was reeling from images that flooded into her, images of his death, or being near dead, she didn't see the old woman approach. The old woman touched her shoulder and whispered into her ear. As the old woman whispered everybody saw the face of the leper's wife change. Her eyes opened wide and the lines in her face, formed by months of sadness and loneliness, disappeared. The people watching couldn't tell if she was smiling or in fact getting ready to laugh. In an instant she turned away from the deliverer of the whispered message.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Clean Man cont.

When Jesus placced his hand on the leper's head he uttered the most beautiful words the poor man had ever heard. Bartholomew I want you to be clean. How did Jesus know his name? As the hand of Jesus was upon his bare head a soft and gentle warmth began to soothe him. Beginning at his head it felt like warm oil running down, first, down his head and face and then down his back, his chest, and to the very bottoms of his feet. As the warmth from the hand of Jesus inched down his body Bartholomew closed his eyes to allow all of his senses to experience the touch of Jesus.

A few moments after Jesus uttered those incredible freeing and cleansing words Bartholomew opened his eyes. His eyes opened to the sight of his hands. Hands once covered in scab and blemish were clean, Strong and flexible. In a second he couldn't recognize anything due to the tears streaming down his face. Bartholomew knelt before the Man sent from God and sobbed as the impact of what just happened swept over him like a flood. As he knelt he lost track of time. The crowd left him as they continued to follow Jesus. his mind was overwhelmed by the thoughts of his own plans of suicide and how that would have devastated his precious wife and children.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Clean Man cont.

He looked like a common man. He didn't wear anything that would indicate status or power. He just stood talking to couple of men that were close to him. As the poor leper drew close to the man another told him to get away that a holy man would never touch a leper. The leper knew in his heart that he would beg and keep begging the Nazarene to have mercy on him. Just seconds after he began his desperation powered lunge he was at the feet of Jesus.

As he dropped in front of Jesus his hands slapped the ground raising some dust. On his knees his tattered robes covered his head. In a voice that was filled with despair and pleading he begged the Man sent from God to have mercy on his life, on his wife and children. The begging man raised his eyes from the dust and dirt and looked into the eyes of Jesus. He sensed that Jesus was looking deep into the farthest recesses of his heart and soul. His eyes understood his pain, his despair, the complete and utter lostness of his life. His eyes knew of his plan to end his pain and free his wife. As he looked into the eyes of Jesus he uttered words that caused the crowd to gasp. He asked Jesus to touch him if he was willing.

Without a moments hesitation Jesus the Nazarene reached out his hand. He didn't look around to see if people were watching in approval or in disgust. It was like the Nazarene didn't care what people thought. As Jesus reached out his hand a voice in the crowd shouted out what everybody was thinking, don't touch him, he is a man cursed by Jehovah and is unclean. Jesus, not hesitating a moment, reached out his hand and pulled the tattered and filthy robe off his head. As he pulled the robe away with one hand he placed the other on the leper's head.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Clean Man cont.

He knew he would try the impossible; his heart wanted to, his spirit needed to try. What could he lose? What harm could come to him by trying? His life couldn't be any worse, he did want to die. He would cast himself down and ask the impossible. He would ask the Nazarene to do what had not been done since the time of the prophets. If he had to, he would grovel in the dust at his feet. He would beg and plead, his desperation would be his power and his wretched condition would propel him to ask the Nazarene to heal his wretched body.

The crowd around the gate was talking about the Nazarene and the words he was speaking. He could hear excitement in the voices of some of the people. He could hear some people saying that the Nazarene must be crazy or of the devil. That he was blaspheming God by talking about the Lord Jehovah being his father. The wretched figure of the man began running towards the gate. As he ran his rags dragged in the dirt, raising a cloud of dust. A rising sense of hope gave strength to his legs. His heart was beating faster than it had for weeks. As he drew close to the crowd around the gate he began spewing out the words that had been his own personal damnation. Unclean, unclean, I am unclean. With each confession he got closer to the gate. The crowd around the gate began to run out of the path of the leper, some jumped out of his way as he moved so quickly towards the Nazarene. Many were shouting at him and cursing, move away, move away, a leper is coming his is unclean.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Clean cont.

The gate where the elder men talked was like an aqueduct of information. Now there was talk about a man who was supposed to be a prophet. Some said he was performing miracles, like feeding vast numbers of people and healing people who had been sick for a long time. They say that as he walked around doing these fantastic miracles he was talking about a kingdom that belonged to God. A few people say that he was sent from God himself to help the Jews. The news of the miracle spread around the town and outside the gate like wildfire. The other poor souls that shared the same fate as the leper laughed at such nonsense. Hopeful nonsense they called it. They said Jehovah had forsaken their land hundreds of years ago. He would never rescue His people because the Jews had abandoned their love for Him. The men around him were filled with hate and despair. The poor leper shared their despair but not their hate.

What if God really cared about people; what if god really wanted to rescue folks from the pain and despair that so many people lived and died in? Could God do that? Well, was it a question of if God could do that, or more like, why should God do it? Why should God want to rescue people that had left him hundreds of years ago. He told himself that it probably wasn't true anyway. His hopeless heart couldn't believe anything good. He had been beaten down for so long. In spite of his despair something buried deep inside his soul stirred a bit. A whisper of a voice that had been buried beneath weeks and months of despair, buried beneath the weight brought down on his spirit by the hundreds of times he cursed himself and warned the people, a whisper was heard.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Clean Man cont.

Death, death would be the answer. His death would free her. free her from his curse, from the tattered robes of disease and disgrace that draped his foul and decomposing flesh. She would be free to find some happiness as an other's wife. The children were young enough that in time they might even be able to forget about him. Yes, that was the answer. It would bring him freedom and new life to his family. now he must find a friend who will help him with his plan. It would have to be person who understands his agony and the pain of his family. A person who would understand would have to be a person who has walked down his lonely road. He thought for a moment and a face came into his mind. The man was Simeon, a leper he came to know during his early days. He was a blessed man. the disease had been plaguing him for almost half a year. And then his skin started to heal. Very slowly at first the skin began to change. Patches of dead skin and scale fell off and fresh skin began to appear.

He sent word into town that he needed to see Simeon. He knew it might take a day or two for his friend to get the message so he decided to stay close to the gate. As he waited for Simeon his mind was again filled with thoughts of his wife and children. He had so much time to think. He thought of how innocent and beautiful his children were. They lived in a land that was so brutal. He longed for his children to grow up and be warm hearted adults who loved Jehovah and other people. What was all of this going to do to his children? Will they come to hate the priest and possibly even the Lord Jehovah?

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Clean Man cont.

During the early days the leper's wife came out to the gate to see her husband. With a child in her arms and one by the hand she stood outside the gate waiting to see him. As they waited and he approached them he was forced to cry out his curse. The first time his children heard him and then saw what a wretch he was they cowered and cried in front of him. In that moment his heart broke and he ran and hid in a shadow of the wall. bitter tears of pain and distress ran down his cheeks for hours. Days later his wife brought them back. this time they stood at a distance and held out their arms and asked their daddy to come and hold them. Their mom told them that right now he couldn't pick them up because he was sick, but someday soon he would be able to pick them up in his strong arms and tickle them and squeeze them tight. Their tiny tears told him how much they loved him and his heartache was beyond speaking.

Her visits became so painful that he asked her not to come back. He wanted his children to remember him before the damned curse covered his body. He wanted her to remember him when he was strong and could sweep her up into his arms with little effort. He wanted her to remember how hard he worked to provide for her and the children. She used to comment on how she could recognize him even if she were blind. She told him that he had a fragrance about him that she knew and loved. With tear covered cheeks she promised not to return to see him until he sent word for her.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Clean Man cont.

As the agonizing days passed into weeks he began to understand that this was to be his life. It was not a mistake, it was not a dream, it was life until the leprosy left his body or his body left this world. He was not going to be one of the fortunate ones, whose condition lasted only a few weeks or months. As he watched the disease spread and cover his body despair was covering his mind and choking his soul. The despair was digging a hole that he could never hope to crawl out of. He thought of despair, his despair. What it is like when all thoughts are dark, when there is no sunshine of hope to be found anywhere? He knew in the deepest part of his soul that he would wander outside his town, never holding his wife, never listening to his children giggle and laugh, just wander until his rotting flesh finished its course.

The night was filled with pain, not pain from his bodily condition, pain that broke his heart. He got so lonely. His wife and children were just minutes from him. He thought of sneaking in during the darkness. He thought his life could be bearable if he could just hold his wife and see his children. Thoughts of a fool as night after night tears ran down his dirt and dust covered face. Only images and sensations of warmth were his as he dreamnt of her breathing. Lying close to him in the cold of the night at least his memories were warm.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Clean Man

The cold and shattering words cut right through the heart of the man standing in front of the priest; "You are unclean". The words not only ripped robes they tore away everything the man loved; his wife, his children, his home, all left behind, all ripped away. With the words the guards were ordered to escort the man to the city gate and from there the poor leper would first announce his curse to all. He was reminded that the Law of Moses dictated that he was banned from the city and every time a Jew came within the sound of his voice that he must cover his mouth and shout to all his curse, unclean, unclean, I am unclean. The words pronounced over him were worse than a curse they were words of damnation.

Can anybody really understand what it is like to be an outcast? A real outcast, banished from your home, your bed, your wife and children. For a while he was sure that somebody was going to come to tell him that the priest made a mistake and he was welcomed back into the community. He knew that as soon as he heard the words he would run faster than his legs ever carried him before. He would run to his home and grab his wife and embrace her and smell her sweet hair and kiss her tender lips. For days he waited within earshot of the gate for the liberating words to come to his ears and aching heart. No one ever came to the gate with the words he ached for.