Finishing up the Sermon on the Mount -- we move back to Jesus itinerant ministry. Jesus is still in the Galilee and, coming down from teaching, he is approached by a Leper. Leprosy was the most dreaded of illness in the 1st century. Lepers were required to leave polite society and to not come in close contact with other human beings. Lepers lived in colonies apart from "healthy people". Jesus action in verse 3 was nothing short of amazing -- Jesus reaches out and TOUCHES the leper. I remember when the AIDS epidemic was first making headlines and no one was clear or sure how it was transmitted. There was a lot of misinformation and a lot of bad information. I remember the first time I shook hands with a man I knew was infected with AIDS -- in that moment I felt within myself all of the prohibitions that must have existed in the 1st century toward leprosy. Jesus "I do choose. Be made Clean!" is a fresh beginning.
We meet a Centurion -- the Centurion was the NonCom officer of the Roman Legion. A leader of 100 men and the essential backbone of the Roman army. The Centurion knew about giving and taking orders. He knew about doing what he was told and knew to expect those under him to do what they were told. Jesus likens this to faith. You don't manufacture obedience - it just is. We do not manufacture faith it is born in us like righteous living expressed in the Sermon on the Mount -- it is born of our deepening relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and lived out in our transformed (and being transformed) lives.
Notice that Jesus, as he teaches us to live into the near "Kingdom of the Heavens" reality does not tell people that this life is comfortable nor is it easy nor is it the road to financial prosperity. Instead he simply reminds us that it is the road to life -- and all the difficulty we have living this life and walking this road is worth it because this is the only authentic life. The only life that is life indeed (abundant?). To the would be followers (18 and following) Jesus simply saying it will be hard (and if I may paraphrase "A League of Their Own") it is the hard that makes it great! You know it and I know it -- the things in life worth doing are the things in life that require the most of us and our deepest commitments. Marriage, changing the world and, first and foremost and most important of all -- following Jesus. If we are to live the life he called us to -- it will require all that we have and when we have done so we will realize that it was not too much to give after all.