40 “A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. 43 Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: 44 “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” 45 But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.”
Here in Mark 1 we are introduced to two drastically different men, one who had a great problem the other great power. Mark tells us that he chose to come to Christ, that the leprous found the Lord. This passage points us back to basics, because ultimately meeting Jesus is all that matters. It’s about coming before the only One who can deal with our disease. It is here that we see the:
- Misery of Man
He had leprosy, a disease that disfigured and disabled the suffer debilitating them both physically and socially. It was the most dreaded disease of that day, we could compare it to cancer without a cure. Leprosy attacks the nerves and their sensitivity to pain, bring numbness to the extremities of the body, and deadening the body as it spreads. When you have leprosy a coal of fire can fall on you and you would not know it, which meant further destruction to an already damaged body. This particular leper was an especially bad case for when Luke refers to this incident he tells us that this man was “covered with leprosy.” It affected his face, his arms and hands, his legs and feet. He was a mass of sores from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. He would have looked loathsome and smelled like decay and death. It was a painful picture of what disease could do, his suffering wasn’t hidden it was on the surface for all to see. Every time he put food in his mouth he would see the stumps that passed for fingers and be reminded of his hopeless situation. But his pain wasn’t just physical, no his suffering involved the silence of social deprivation. There were strict rules that governed those in Galilee with leprosy rules that they had to obey. According to Leviticus 13:45-46 “Those who suffer from a serious skin disease must tear their clothing and leave their hair uncombed. They must cover their mouth and call out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 As long as the serious disease lasts, they will be ceremonially unclean. They must live in isolation in their place outside the camp.” So the leper left his family, his wife and children, to live with other lepers. He was unclean, unwanted, unworthy and unloved. Every face he saw was the disfigured face of disease. He lived an isolated life, abandoned and feared by the world, an ostracized outcast. Like this leper we too are afflicted, affected by a deadly disease, the sickness of sin, that leads to death. How bad is the sickness of sin? It effects every part of us. Our eyes, we are blind to the glory of Christ all around us in creation. Our ears, we are deaf to His victorious voice that calls to us from the pages of scripture. Our mouths, for they are filled with foul words and the works of bitterness. Our minds, perverted, our thoughts twisted, bend on that which is disgusting and degrading. Our bodies, destined for death, we are all lepers in this life. The worst of it all was that there was nothing that could help this leper. Moses and the law could not help him, it could only confirm his condition and tell him where to live, how he had to dress, and what he had to shout, but it couldn’t cure him. It was only when he came to Christ that he discovered the cure. He came to the Son of God, the one who spoke and the winds and waves obeyed him, the One who at a word turned water into wine. What about you have you searched for Jesus, are you willing to come to Christ? Without the Savior we suffer the same fate, suffocation and death from our sins of omission and commission. This dying man came to the Great Physician, the one who came to help and heal those suffering from the sickness of sin. It took courage to walk past the cruel crowds and come to Christ, and it took a humble heart to kneel before the healer. We read in verse 40 that he came to Jesus fell on his knees and begged. So often we skim over statements like these without giving them a second thought, but Mark thought that this was important for us to know. He doesn’t tell us how old the leper is, or his name, but he makes sure that we know that he kneeled in the presence of Jesus. Mark wants us to see his condition before Christ, the bowing beggar crying out to be cured. When was the last time you knelt down in the presence of Jesus? When was the last time you cried out to Christ? This man’s response to the Redeemer was one of both reverence and desperation. How desperate are you for deliverance from the disease of death? He didn’t just bow in His presence he also believed in the power of Jesus, for he said, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Do you believe that Jesus can make you clean? His petition teaches us the proper way to pray. He came on bended knee, bowing, begging and believing, submissive to the Sovereignty of the Savior. He knew that Jesus could make him clean, he had great confidence in God’s power, he just wasn’t sure if God would heal. There was no question about the “what” God could do, it was the “Will” that he wondered about. He didn’t “claim” what he thought was his or demand that Jesus deal with his disease. This is no name it and claim it faith formula that perverted prosperity preachers like to proclaim. No this is complete surrender to Christ’s right to rule in his life. He was essentially saying, “Lord, if you are willing, you can do anything.” This is what I want but I don’t know if it’s your Will and what I want most, more that even being well is Your Will.” It is also important to note that this leper asked to be spiritually clean, not just to be physically healed. His prayer wasn’t just focused on physical healing, he also wanted a clean heart. This wasn’t just about his condition it was about a complete change, one that only Christ can bring. Only Jesus can cure the chaos that comes as a result of our disobedience sin. How long are you going to try to deal with your disabling disease in your own strength? As this man found out, religion can’t redeem only Jesus can.