The movie follows a Roman tribute Clavius who is tasked with the job of finding Jesus' missing body. Pilate is panicked that this will cause trouble with Rome, the Pharisees are angry thinking that the disciples have pulled one over on them. Of course Clavius does not believe. He begins his search with much zeal, he will find that body or he will find one that will work as a substitute so that the unrest will end. Little does he know that he is embarking on a quest that will change his life.
He finally comes to believe after having witnessed Jesus on the cross dead he sees him alive in the upper room with the disciples. He cannot reconcile what he has seen. He follows after the disciples who are headed to Galilee to meet with Jesus. They meet up with Jesus and are eating a meal with him. As they eat a leper is run out of the village by angry people. They are afraid of him and they kick him and hit him and spit on him. Jesus sees all of this and picks up a fish and offers it to the leper. The leper is on the ground, curled up in a ball; afraid, hungry, broken. As Jesus sits next to him, he says "No one touches me". Jesus disregards this, draws him close, embraces him.
The leper is historically depicted as an outcast, a criminal, and most certainly someone to be avoided. He is reviled as the physical incarnation of God’s wrath and a sinner deserving of punishment. In truth, this victimized individual is merely one of the unfortunate few susceptible to the Bacillus leprae, the bacterial agent that causes the dreaded disease leprosy. From biblical times to the Middle Ages, lepers were outcasts, regarded as already dead and completely shunned from the rest of society. Strict regulations governing their movements forced many to live as beggars and vagrants. They scrounged the streets, announcing their approach with the ring of a bell and cries of “Unclean!” while always hiding their deformities beneath a black cowl. (1) Feared, hated, despised. All because of a disease. I watched that movie twice that day. Jim wasn't home, so I watched it alone and then when he came home I asked him to watch it again with me. Both times that scene came on and I wept so hard I almost made myself sick. You see, I was once like that leper. I was afflicted with a disease and felt that no one could touch me. That disease was sin. I lived a life where my heart was dead. My parents had a difficult time showing love to me and provide me with a safe, stable home because of their own hurts, their own pain. Because I was so alone, and because I was a social outcast, being overweight and awkward, not wanted by anyone as a friend I gave myself away to the first person who was somewhat kind to me. I thought oh, someone will love me! No, not love, I was just a convenient amusement for a time. Then I became pregnant and had an abortion. Another piece of my heart lost all feeling, like a leper who loses sensitivity in his extremities. More numbness, more pain. More awful solitude.
That all changed when I grew a little older, lost weight, suddenly became 'attractive'. I wasn't alone anymore, but I was still lonely. I was still just a convenient amusement, but as long as I drank enough or took enough drugs it didn't seem to matter so much. After all I was dead inside. No one touched me.
Then one day I met the Saviour. I met the One who would love me unconditionally. I didn't have a true revelation of that until I had a dream or a vision, I cannot tell you what it was. But it was more real than my hand in front of my face. I know I have shared this before, but this is important. I was in a little town, dirt roads, dust everywhere. I hear that Jesus is coming, but I know that I will never get to see Him. There are too many people and I am insignificant. I want to just be resigned to this, after all this has been my life, but I finally crumple into a ball on the ground. I don't know how long I huddled there, but it seems forever. Then a shadow crosses over me. I feel someone get down next to me and take me in His arms and just hold me. Oh my God, the feelings that washed over me. Love. Hope. Peace. Wave after wave washing over me, bathing me in His tenderness and affection. Someone had touched me. The Son of God had touched me, held me, loved me.
For someone who had never felt true love before this was monumental. I felt too dirty, too filled with shame to think that anyone, let alone God could feel that way about me. I felt worthless and inconsequential. Untouchable and lost. But oh, He is the God who comes after the lost. He is the God of the parable of the lost sheep, the God of the parable of the lost coin. The One who left the ninety nine sheep to go and search high and low for the one that was astray. The One who scoured the house for the lost coin, turning on all the lights and seeking diligently for that one coin that got away. These are not pictures of someone just halfheartedly hoping, oh well, I hope I chance upon that sheep, that coin. No this is Someone who leaves everything else behind to scour the countryside to find that little lamb. This is Someone who leaves no rug unturned, no dust bunny unmoved in order to discover where that coin rolled off to.
This is the God of the parable of the Prodigal son. The father who was rejected by his son; the son who only wanted his father's inheritance. You know the story. The son goes off, spends all in a wanton lifestyle and finally, broken and hungry realizes that his father's servants have it better than he does. He has sinned against his father and thinks he will just come home, beg forgiveness and work for his father so he can have food to eat, a place to sleep. But his father, himself brokenhearted sees his son from afar and runs to him. He does not say I told you so. He does not lord it over his spendthrift sinner of a son. He throws his arms around his son and welcomes his back home. Jared C. Wilson in his book "The Storytelling God" says this, "And here is something peculiar about the parable of the lost son, which is very often called the parable of the 'prodigal son'. The word prodigal is an adjective referring to profuse expenditures, reckless abundance, a sense of 'wastefulness'. This applies of course to the lost son as he
'squandered his property in reckless living'. But as Thomas Keller has helpfully shown us, it is the father in the story who is the most prominent prodigal. He is 'wasting' his affection on his disgraced son, lavishing his goodness upon the one deserving of his condemnation. So Keller says the image of the gospel we receive in the parable of the prodigal son is actually of the prodigal God who loves us with reckless abundance, who, zealous for his own joy, is jealous for us, and who, with his Son, generously gives us all things." (2)
This is the God who loves me and who loves you. The God who says you can never be too bad, you can never be too sinful. This is the God who goes to the ends of the earth to seek you and who will not stop until you are found. This is the God who recklessly loves you; who gave His only Son for you. This is the God who holds you close, no matter how dirty, how diseased. This is the God who whispers in your ear, "I have been waiting for you, I love you." This is the God, who in Hosea 2:23 said, "I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they will say, 'You are my God!'" (NASB)
This is the God who held me close. Who embraced me in my sin and filth. He lovingly cradled me in His arms and made me whole again. This is the God who gave His all for me and I will not only forever be grateful for that, but I will seek to return that love until my dying day. Which will be the first day of the greatest part of my life, my life in His presence worshiping Him always.
(2) The Storytelling God by Jared C. Wilson, page 72
If you get a chance, watch the scene from "Risen" showing the healing of the leper...copy and paste this link