Monday, March 1, 2010

Mark 1:40-45 A lepar and a Friend

40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. 43 And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.

That Jesus touched one of the untouchables under the Law of Moses as well as by social norms of the day should not be lost on us. Nor should we overlook Jesus’ motivation. It wasn’t self aggrandizing; Jesus’ didn’t make a display of the man or Himself by healing him before the people; Jesus’ motivation was born out of pure compassion for this man, who having implored Him, kneeled before Him asked “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Vs. 40 Now of their brief encounter, it was though few of words, intimate and personal. Jesus then upon hearing his request and seeing him kneel before Him spoke directly to the man, likely looking into his eyes of desperation when He said: “I am willing; be cleansed.” vs. 41

Jesus then compassionately reaches out to touch him, something that the man probably hadn’t felt in years, the touch of a caring hand. For a man accustomed to crying out unclean! unclean! (Lev. 13:1-2, 9-11, 38-48) Jesus’ both repsonding tenderly to him and then touching him before He healed him shows Christ's sensitivity to not only the man’s broken body, but also his broken sense of self esteem. Now Jesus didn’t have to lay hands on people to heal them; though He did to fulfill the Scriptures (Matt. 18:16-17); where faith was present He both cast out demons and healed sicknesses with a word (Matt. 8:13; Mark 7:24-30).

Therefore by His doing so Jesus demonstrates a deep concern for the individual’s wholeness as a person, tactfully bringing about this man’s well being on a personal level. For that is how God reaches, and reaches out to people, personally, intimately. Though the gospel is a universal message, whose effects are likewise universal in us all who believe, it is always the individual and their response in faith to it that initiates the Lord’s working in one’s life, which finds fullfilment at the ressurection of the dead. Jesus then relates to the individual at their level and their need while not forsaking His greater mission as He said earlier to His disciples in verse thirty eight. For it was there when the disciples in the early morning hours after searching for Him, found Him alone in a solitude place, praying, and saying to Him that everyone was searching for Him, Jesus’ replied to them: “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” Vs. 38 For Jesus had both preached and demonstrated the healing power of the gospel to those people, and having done all He could to share the gospel there. It is likely He needed to reach out to others elsewhere. And that is what He was doing here when this leper approached Him. Therefore Jesus didn’t shun this man who must have sought Him out with great difficulty, given the social stigma of leprosy, as a potential hindrance to his greater mission. Jesus never places a value on a person based on their social standing; and certainly not on a person’s ability to contribute to His ministry. Jesus Christ values the individual; especially the individual who believes in Him, simply because they do (Matt. 25:31-46). For His purpose in coming forth from God was to preach and teach the gospel, then be crucified and raised from the dead on the third day so that all people might believe in Him and be saved. For Jesus Christ was and will always be the Son of Man and Son of God who shows deference to no one. Rich or poor, sinner or saint, all people are in need of repentance before God (Luke 13:1-5). Therefore all people are in need of Jesus Christ the Lord (John 3:16). Therefore He never lost sight of the individual and their importance to God. Look at His parables: A shepherd who leaves His ninety nine sheep to find the one who is straying; or a woman who searches diligently for a priceless coin; then Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. And in each parable Jesus concludes it by saying there is rejoicing and great celebration over the discovery of the lost. First the shepherd at finding His lost sheep, which He places on His own shoulders and carry’s back to safety. And when he arrives home he calls his friends and neighbors together and says ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ Luke 15:6 Jesus then say’s: “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7
Then the women who after searching diligently finds her lost coin from her set of ten coins and for joy of the discovery of it goes and calls all her friends to rejoice with her, saying to them ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Again Jesus emphasizes the immense value of just one missing individual to God (See Ezekiel 34:1-33). And again Jesus concludes His parable by saying: “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10

Finally the prodigal son’s Father and his outpouring of heart wrenching love for his assumed dead son, upon seeing his returning to Him cannot contain Himself but instead runs to meet his returning son, embraces him mightily and kisses him passionately then He commands his servants to quickly place on his son a rob and ring reclaiming him as his own. And to celebrate his return Jesus say’s they kill the fatted calf; something that would have only been done for the most special of occasions. Yet the last and most non allegory of all of Jesus’ parables is not without controversy. In first two no one questions the rejoicing and desire of the shepherd and women’s calls to celebrate. Friends and neighbors alike instinctively celebrate their joy. Only here is there a character introduced earlier in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son “the older brother” so duty bound by service that he's forgotten what brotherly love looks like, only he takes great offense at the father’s rejoicing over his own returning repentant son. Not over a sheep, of some value, nor a valued coin, of greater value, but over a lost human being which is of greatest value to God. See Bellow:
29 “So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 ‘But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ 31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 ‘It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ” Luke 15:29-32

Now I know that I have digressed from the original passage, but not without purpose, which was to illuminate the value of the “least of these” My brethren to Jesus. So I’ll try to weave my way back into His instructions to the man whom He just healed of his leprosy. Jesus then having healed this man of his leprosy say’s to him …“See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” Vs. 44

Jesus didn’t want the man to tell everyone in that region how He healed him because the people were already captivated by His healing miracles. Likely way to much so, for it’s not the miracles, it’s the Person to whom they attest and ones faith in that Person of God that ultimately matters. While Jesus Christ's instructions to the man was that he should go and show himself to the priest both as a witness to the priest, and in keeping the things which Moses commanded that was then still required of the Jews. Now the man’s response was to neither remain silent nor go to the priest (at least not initially) but rather the passages reads “…he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.” Vs. 45
The result of which was that Jesus could no longer enter the city, but instead was outside in deserted places. for even that did not hinder His ministry, for people came around from every direction to Him. Yet Jesus’ point in healing him was not to make a celebrity of Himself. It was simply an act of compassion which teaches us all that God is willing to heal anyone who likewise comes to Him through faith in Jesus Christ.

Scripture Quotations
 The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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