What’s next...with Jesus?
“No good deed goes unpunished”, as the saying goes. This should not be a deterrent to either being a Good Samaritan nor to being a nice person. But it certainly seems that it’s what happened to Jesus. Here he is, moved with pity for a man who is a leper, cleanses him, and the man is so overjoyed that he makes his healing very public. This mans “good news” puts Jesus in a difficult situation with consequences. Jesus gave this man what he wanted but the man didn’t return the favor. Jesus gave him a way back to the community of family and friends but he didn’t obey the command not to tell anyone. In a very real sense...the leper is set free and Jesus is no longer free to roam about, all because this mans “good news” increased Jesus’ popularity. Now, the masses of people increased all looking for something from Jesus.
John Shea reflects upon this dilemma by wondering, and writing, that there may be a mystical hint in Jesus’ sudden leper status, in the Holy one becoming unholy. It is captured in a poem, “A Prayer to the Pain of Jesus”:
When crutches were thrown away did Jesus limp after the running cripples?
Did his eyes dim when Bartimaeus saw?
Did life ebb in Him when it flowed in Lazarus?
When lepers leapt in new flesh, did scales appear on the back of his hand?
The gospels say Jesus felt power go out from him but neglect to say whether at that moment pain came in.
Did the Son of God take on ungrown legs and dead eyes in the terrifying knowledge that pain does not go away, It only moves on. Jesus’ compassion may have included experiencing the total situation of the leper. Yes, every good deed deserves quiet recognition and perpetual thanksgiving...but never punishment.