The Reward of Faith
A young man named Martineus was afflicted with that most ugly and painful of all diseases, leprosy. In those days lepers were treated very harshly by other men. It was feared that healthy people would catch the disease if a leper came near them. There was even a law that whenever a leper saw a healthy person approaching, he had to cry out “Unclean! Unclean!” as a warning. Besides the fear of contagion, there was another reason why lepers were kept apart from others: leprosy made its victims so dreadful to look at that everyone shuddered at the sight.
Very few were ever cured of leprosy. According to the Law established by Moses, anyone who did get cured had to go to the priest and offer a gift in thanksgiving. Being cured of leprosy was called “being made clean”‘ if the priest saw that the man was truly clan, he would give him permission to live among other men again.
Martineus feared that he would never be made clean. That is, he feared it until he heard of Jesus of Nazareth.
More and more, the fame of Jesus as a Miracle-Worker spread among the people, and more and more Martineus, pondering on the scraps of news that came to him, became convinced that Jesus would heal him if he could but get to Him.
Then one day Martineus saw Jesus heal a cripple. Of course, he had had to watch from a hill a great distance away, for there was a crowd around Jesus; but Martineus had been able to perceive distinctly the gentleness and kindness of Jesus and the rejoicing of the man whom He healed.
“Surely He will pity me,” said Martineus; “surely He will make me clean. He is generous and kind.” Martineus’ faith was simple and loving. He went right on believing, even though he didn’t know how he would ever be able to get near Jesus.
Then it happened!
One day as he stood in a field, Martineus saw a great cloud of dust in the distance. Nearer and nearer it came, and finally he could tell that an enormous crowd was approaching. A Man in a scarlet cloak waked in from of the people. It was Jesus! A few men were walking near Him (these of course were His Apostles) and apparently all were headed for a nearby hillside.
Martineus saw his chance. If he raced across the field, he could get to Jesus without coming near the main part of the crowd. Martineus wasted not time; he began to run wiht all his might.
Just as Jesus was only a few steps from the foot of hte hill, Martineus circled around and threw himself on the ground at Jesus’ feet.
All the faith and hope of his life–and all the suffering too– went into his prayer to Jesus: “Lord, if You will, You can make me clean.” And without hesitation Jesus bent and touched Martineus. “I will,” He said gently. “Be made clean.”
At once the leprosy left Martineus. He became healthy and clean and strong.
He was so happy and so grateful that he couldn’t think of a thing to say. But he was thinking many things: that other people had despised him because he was a leper, yet Jesus had looked at him with kindness and love; that no other person would even think of touching his diseased body, yet Jesus had bent down swiftly, even gladly, and put His hand on it. And Jesus had healed him! but how to put all this in words, Martineus did not know. He just remained kneeling before Jesus in silence.
But Jesus saw what was in his heart, and He was pleased.
In order to fulfill the Mosaic Law by perfect obedience, Jesus said to Marineus, “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift which Moses commanded as a thanksgiving to God.”
Again Martineus raced across the field–but how differently this time. Going straight to the priest, he offered his gift. And as soon as the priest gave him leave to go among men again, Martineus went right back and joined the people who followed Jesus so faithfully and listened to His teachings.