The Covid-19 Pandemic has wreaked havoc on this world leaving chaos in its wake. The latest casualties are our normal Christmas tradition. This year, carols will not be sung on the street corners. Churches will not be filled. Normal holiday gatherings will be limited. While this scenario is unfortunate and disappointing, it can help us gain a clearer portrait of what it meant for the Son of God to enter our world.
In the eighth chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus encounters a leper. This leper accosts Christ and humbly asks: “Lord if you are willing, make me clean!” Christ approaches the leper, extends his hand to touch him, and says “I am willing, be clean!” The Leper is healed and joyfully goes to the Temple to show himself before the priest to confirm his healing. What can this moving story teach us about the truth of Christmas?
The healing of the leper was not merely an act of compassion; it was a picture of how Christ, the Son of God, enters this world. Like the leper, this world is unclean – full of disease, death, and evil. The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us of this fact. As the pandemic hits closer to home, we see more and more that, like the leper in our story, this world is unclean. Into this unclean world, Christ enters. The pure enters the impure; the infinite touches the finite; the eternal God becomes flesh and dwells among us.
But Christ does not merely approach the leper, he extends his hand and touches him. Cruelly, but necessarily, human contact was prohibited for lepers. According to Old Testament Law, anyone who touched an unclean leper became himself unclean. And yet, Jesus touches the leper. Why would Christ, pure and holy, risk becoming unclean by touching a leper? He wished to show us the purpose for which he entered this world – to take upon himself the impurity, evil, and death of this world. We see this most clearly in his crucifixion. The holy Son of God is crucified as a common criminal. The sinless one dies for the sins of the world. The truth of Christmas is that God’s only begotten Son entered this world so that he could bear its burden.
The result of Christ touching the leper is that the leper is instantly healed. Christ takes upon himself the leper’s uncleanliness so that the leper becomes clean. By bearing the pain, brokenness, and evil of this world, Jesus offers us a way to be clean. To all who trust in him, Christ offers everlasting life in his presence. The eternal Son of God identified with this broken and unclean world in order to cleanse it from sin death. And, as he was resurrected from the dead, pure and full of life, so also, we too have the hope of resurrection. He died to make us clean; he lives to offer us salvation.
This strange Christmas season, let us remember the Son of God who entered this unclean world in order to cleanse its impurities. Let us, like the leper, seek salvation only from him. And, above all, let us humbly thank him for the gift of eternal life in his presence.
Rev. Dr Zachary Kail
Pastor of the Greek Evangelical Church of Larnaca
Member of the AAAF Board and Church Representative