In some ways I think I am a little like the late Paul Harvey - I want to know "the rest of the story". So often we hear of different people that Jesus interacted with, catch a glimpse of their life and then they disappear from the scene, never to be heard from again.Today's Gospel is a case in point.
Jesus cleansed a leper, told him not to tell anyone and then ordered him to “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” (Luke 5:14) The next thing we hear is that the stories about Jesus were spreading even more. What happened?
This man is one of those whom, if I ever get the opportunity in heaven, I would like to meet so I can find out. Did he ever go to the temple and do as Jesus asked? If not, why not? If so, what was the reaction of the priests? Obviously someone told about the encounter with Jesus. Was it him? The priests? The disciples?
Until I find out what happened, I often use this technique to imagine possible story lines. I try to imagine what I would do if I were the person in the passage. Today I think my tendency would have been to tell everyone I knew just what Jesus had done. I think I would see His admonition not to tell anyone merely an expression of His modesty and humility, and would probably have ignored it. Ah, but that would be also ignoring the reason that He wanted me to go to the priests - "that will be proof for them".
And what of the consequences? Jesus was asking me to follow what was required in the law in order to establish that it was God who had done this miraculous deed. If I did not go, have myself examined by the priests so they could certify my "cleanliness" and then offer the proper sacrifice, it would be assumed that I was giving the credit to someone else. And since they did not realize that Jesus and the Father are ONE, He would be seen as someone trying to put Himself in place of God. Could my lack of following what Jesus asked of me have made His situation worse, thus hastening His arrest and subsequent death?
You seen whenever I do not do what the Lord asks of me (i.e. sin), there are consequences. Certainly I do not intend them. Neither, I imagine, did this former leper. But someday when I stand before the Lord all will be revealed. Until then, I pray for the strength to do what the Lord asks of me, so that I will not be too ashamed when I finally understand "the rest of the story."