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.
Not only does Mark reveal to us the misery of man but second we see the:
- Mercy of the Messiah
While everyone else was repulsed by the leper and left him alone Jesus was moved by mercy. Verse 41 says that Christ couldn’t contain His compassion and reached out to tenderly touch this man and take away his misery. Jesus felt the agony of his isolation and the pain of his plight. This is not an isolated case of compassion for It was common for Jesus to be moved with compassion. In Mark 6:33 it says that after Jesus saw the huge crowds: “He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began teaching them many things.” Jesus did more than just feel compassion, He was touched in his heart and so he reached out and touched with His hands. This was not a tentative touch, the Greek means to “stretch” out and “fasten or adhere.” The Lord latched on to the leper. How long had it been since anyone had touched this leper, let alone hold him? Again just like Jesus compassion,His tender touch was not a onetime event but something that Mark majors on, for it is readily repeated throughout the Gospel.
1:31 – In healing Simon’s mother-in-law, Jesus “went to her, took her her, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’”
5:41 – When a little girl died, Jesus “took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’”
7:33 – When healing a deaf and mute man, “Jesus put his fingers into his ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue.”
8:23 – People begged Jesus to touch a blind man and so “He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’”
9:27 – After healing a boy that had an evil spirit, “Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.”
10:16 – When people brought children to Jesus to have Him touch them, He did much more than that: “And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.”
Jesus isn’t afraid to reach out and touch our lives, to take a hold of our hurt and heal. We can’t miss the significance of this, for no one was allowed to touch a leper because his uncleanness would be transferred to the one who touched him, only the deity couldn’t be defiled. According to the Old Testament the only human that could touch a leper was the High Priest, and only after the leper was healed. The purpose of the High Priests touch was simply to tell others that the leper was clean. Only Christ the creator could cleanse and make him clean, only the tender touch of Jesus can transform. He is still touching lives today, have you been touched by the teacher? It is here as Jesus touches the man that He declares His willingness to do the work, “I am willing he said” Everything rests on His will, He can do anything but it must be in line with His Will. Jesus then gives a command, “Be clean!” When it is His Will it only takes a word and it will happen, for verse 42 declares : “Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.” This word instant or immediate is used over 40 times in Marks gospel. His command was instantly obeyed, so how immediately is your obedience to His word? His fingers were fine, his toes were attached again, his skin was soft and supple. This leper had a new lease on life. His hurt was replaced by health as he was instantly cured and cleansed. His pain and his past were no problem for the power of Jesus words. When the misery of man meets the mercy of the Messiah we witness not just the miracle of healing but of being whole. In Jesus’ upside-down kingdom, the unlovable is loved, and the unwanted is touched. But this is not where the story ends and what happens next is more than just surprising it’s a little startling, the:
It is Jesus miracle of mercy that transforms the leper from a man in misery to a man on mission. After Jesus commands the disease to depart He then instructs this man about His mission. Jesus doesn’t give a suggestion, He gives a stern command, verse 43 says “Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning” Jesus sent him on his way because he had a mission to accomplish. We may want to linger with the Lord but we are called to be on mission for the Master. Notice that Christs command is crystal clear: “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.” There are actually two parts to this command, one don’t mention the miracle and the second seek out the priests to declare you clean. This man from Galilee is told to journey to Jerusalem, which is over 100 miles away and would take several days. He is to meet with the priest and follow what the Law dictated. Deuteronomy 24:8 sates: “In cases of leprous diseases be very careful to do exactly as the priests, who are Levites, instruct you. You must follow carefully what I have commanded them.” Why would Jesus have wanted this man to go and proclaim his healing to the priest and not the population? Only the priests could validate the miracle, nothing like this had happened for hundreds of year, scripture records only the healing from leprosy of Miriam and Naaman in the Old Testament. With the validation of the priests he would be accepted socially and spiritually by society. Jesus wanted to fulfill the Law for He said in Matthew 5:17: “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” This would have been a witness and testimony to the priests, for they knew that the Messiah would be able to heal lepers. This is exactly what Jesus told John’s disciples to tell John when he wondered if Jesus was the Messiah in Matthew 11:5: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk and those who have leprosy are healed.” This wouldn’t just have pointed to His power but have proved who He was to the priests. The disease obeyed Jesus and departed but this man who had just experienced the miracle dismissed the command and disobeyed. “But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened.” This was a deliberate decision of disobedience, maybe he thought that the journey Jesus had told him to take to the priests was too much work, that disobedience and doing what he wanted was easier. Yet the road of disobedience is a rough one, we may be lured in by its seeming easy only to discover the disastrous results that lead to ruin. Interestingly, this man was told to not tell anybody, and he tells everybody; we’re told to tell everybody and we don’t tell anybody! He was touched so he went out and testified, but instead of helping the cause of Christ he hindered it: “large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places.” Disobedience is dangerous and what he did was destructive for several reasons. First it was a violation of God’s expressed Will. 1 Samuel 15:22 says, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” Have you been delivered like the leper but still have an area of disobedience you are not dealing with in your life? How many of us get what we want from Jesus and then turn around and do what we want. Do you ever say to yourself, “Yeah I know what the Bible says…but?” Are you following Christ’s clear commands or the cultural confusion? Have you determined to be obedient to God’s Will expressed through His Word or to do what you want? God speaks He doesn’t stutter. His disobedience detracted and served to stifle the ministry. It’s interesting to note that now this leper can go into the cities but Jesus can’t! It didn’t just detract; it confused the mission, for now people flocked to His miracles more than the message. Jesus came to preach not to perform; the miracles were intended to validate the message and His mission not mesmerize. This also served to short-circuit the ministry to the priests; they missed out on compelling evidence that Jesus was who He said He was. But despite his disobedience God’s plan prevailed: “but people from everywhere kept coming to him.” Disobedience is disastrous, but it doesn’t derail the deity, His plan will still proceed. Sin has disfigured us all to the point where even our righteousness is filthy rags. Compared to the holiness of God, our lives are hideous sin soaked shells. Yet on the cross of Calvary as Jesus was crucified he kissed our sin-shriveled lives with His suffering and sacrifice. He touched our hideous sin and healed our hurt, it was through His misery that we received mercy and are forever changed. Once we were dead in sin but through His sacrifice we have been delivered. Our deliverance caused His death but now we live and disobedience must die. If your life has been transformed by the touched of Jesus are you living in obedience to His teaching? Are you helping or hindering the mission?