Monday, March 26, 2012

#26 "If you are willing, you can make me clean...."  [Mark 1:40]

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is Jesus' encounter with a leper in Mark 1.  In Mark 1 a leper comes to Jesus and asks the question above, "if you are willing, you can make me clean."  Now, why would the leper frame the question in this manner?

Because this man is used to people being unwilling to help him.  According to the book of Leviticus, a leper was ostracized from the Israelite camp.  It was so bad that if they were around people that were not infected with this terrible skin disease they would have to yell out, "unclean!  Unclean!"  They would have to warn people about their disease and alarm them about their possible infection.

I want us to imagine such a scenario for a moment.  Imagine being diseased.  That is bad enough.  But imagine that your disease makes you, literally, untouchable.  No one wants to be around you.  No one wants to touch you.  You cannot participate in the life of the church.  As a matter of fact, you cannot even attend the festivals of the church in the God you believe in.  You may believe that God Himself has forsaken you.

It is under this particular situation that this leper approaches Jesus.  He asks Jesus, "if you are willing, you can make me clean..."  And what does Jesus do?  Well, even if you do not know the story I bet you can answer this question.  Jesus will heal him, of course.  But it is not the healing that amazes me the most - it is the means by which Jesus heals the man.  It is recorded in v.41 of Mark 1, "moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, 'I am willing: be cleansed.'"  Jesus could have waved His hand by the man and healed Him.  Jesus could have simply spoken a word and healed him.  He could have simply thought to heal him and healed him.  Those are not the methods Jesus used.  He reached out His hand and touched the untouchable.  He put His hand right in the sore and said, "I am willing." 

This touches me so much.  How unwilling am I to touch the untouchable.  How much fear do I have?  Yet, God reached in to me and touched the untouchable.  My sin is far uglier than this man's leprosy.  And God reached out and touched me and saved me.  He did the same for you.  This is how much God loves you and me - He is willing.

What else impresses me is that the leper approached Jesus.  He knew of the goodness of Jesus - and in that knowing approached Jesus.  This leper did not give up on healing.  There are too many of us that, because of our sin, want to hide away.  We are too like Adam and Eve who hid in their sin.  Approach Jesus.  He is willing.  Bring to Him all that you need.  He loves you.  Amen.

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