Pastor M. Beecroft, 09/13/2009
Dead man walking. For at least the past century in America, those words echo through a prison hall whenever a death row convict makes his way toward execution. While dead men don’t walk, a man on the way to the chair is as good as dead. In the first-century, lepers were like death-row inmates-they were as good as dead. Dead men walking. For death itself was in their flesh-lesions, sores, and scabs bore witness to their decay. As living symbols of death, they were unclean. As such, they were shunned from society. They were cast out of the community, barred access to home, market, and synagogue. Their leprosy made them dead to family and friends. Leprosy made them dead to religious practice. Only a cure for their leprosy could bring them life, but cures were rare. So rare, in fact, that the rabbis of the day considered the cure of a leper equivalent with raising a person from the dead. Lepers lived dead.
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