06 February 2010

Jesus Touches the Untouchable

A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.   Mark 1:40-45

  • How would I feel having a disease that isolated me from the rest of "civilised" society?  There are no hospitals, nursing, treatment centres.  There had to have been much isolation, shame and dispair.
  • But he has some hope because he has heard about Jesus.  He begs Jesus and in a statement of faith says, "If you choose, you can make me clean."  For those of us who've grown up in families that follow Jesus, the totality of Jesus' power to change lives can be disregarded.  We may fool ourselves into thinking that it is by our own power that we can be clean.  What does it mean to be clean?  To live a life clean of shame, clean of guilt, resentment, hate, loneliness, bitter feelings, and empty pursuits.  We do not have to live this way.  We do not have to settle.  "Jesus, if you choose, you can make me clean."
  • Jesus was moved by the man's pleas and healed him.  As we quickly discover in reading accounts of Jesus, Jesus heals in many different ways.  How does he heal someone that is not supposed to be touched?  He touches him.  How long had it been since the man felt human touch?  How strange and exhilarating that must have felt.  He can now be touched by others without fear and the first one who touches him is Jesus.  May we know the power Jesus gives to those of us who would extend His love and give wisely and freely exactly what people desperately need.
  • Why does Jesus sternly warn the man to say nothing to anyone?  Part of the answer is in what Jesus now has to do because the man, in his exuberance, did not listen to Jesus' instructions.  He has to stay outside of towns because of the great crowds that have come from near and far to see what Jesus could do for them.  

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