World English Bible translation
1:40There came to him a leper, begging him, kneeling down to him, and saying to him, "If you want to, you can make me clean."
1:41Being moved with compassion, he stretched out his hand, and touched him, and said to him, "I want to. Be made clean." 1:42 When he had said this, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was made clean. 1:43 He strictly charged him, and immediately sent him out, 1:44 and said to him, "See you say nothing to anybody, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing the things which Moses commanded, for a testimony to them."
1:45But he went out, and began to proclaim it much, and to spread about the matter, so that Jesus could no more openly enter into a city, but was outside in desert places: and they came to him from everywhere.
In the previous lesson, we spoke of the desire of Jesus to visit the other towns of Galilee. Today's Scripture concerns what occurred when Jesus began to go from town to town in Galilee. It is the story of an encounter that Jesus had with a leper and how this occurrence made Jesus even more sensational and popular in the eyes of the multitude.
As Jesus was going to the next town, a leper approached Him and asked if Jesus would heal him of his leprosy. Two things are remarkable about this leper approaching Him. First, lepers were allowed little contact with people who were not affected with their disease. Even living an isolated life as a leper, this man had already heard about Jesus and sought Him out. Perhaps a loved one had told the leper of the Rabbi who had healed the sick in Capernaum. The second thing is that the leper expresses a kind of faith as he approaches Jesus. It is not complete faith, but it is a start. "If you want to, you can make me clean."
The text tells us that not only was Jesus moved with compassion, but that He does an unusual thing. He reaches out and touches the leper. Even a simple touch would have been a highly unusual thing for this man. Leprosy was considered to be highly contagious and since it was always fatal and debilitating, great measures were taken to see that no contact took place between a leper and a healthy person. But there is no fear in Jesus. He has come to reach out to those who are untouchable. This man's leprosy is a symptom of mankind's isolation from God. Jesus crosses the divide that separates sinful man from God and touches us in our sinful condition.
Jesus heals the man and charges him with two things. First, he is to say nothing about how he had been healed. Second, the former leper was to present himself to the priest and to fulfill his ritual obligation according to the Law of Moses. Many people forget that Jesus was a practicing Jew. He lived in complete accord with the Mosaic Law. He was born according to the Law, lived according to the Law and died according to the Law. This is an important factor in understanding the life of Christ and what God was accomplishing in Christ for you and I. Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses so that the obligations of the Law might be met in those that are baptized into Him.
Now the end of this story makes it all the more interesting. To the best that we are told, the man who had been a leper did neither of the two things that Jesus asked him to do. Instead of remaining silent and fulfilling his obligations to the Law, the man began proclaiming to anyone who would listen that Jesus had healed him. Because of this, Mark tells us that Jesus could not enter a populous city any more because the people would mob Him. His reputation as a healer had reached critical mass and it was actually preventing Him from taking His message to the larger cities of Galilee.
Sometimes we do not understand what the Lord has in store for our lives. The man who had been a leper was overjoyed that he had been healed. He did not maliciously mean to restrain Jesus' work. But, God always has a reason for the things that He tells us to do. We may not understand them, but when we do not do them, even when we choose to do something that we think will honor God even more, we miss the best that God has to offer.
Have you known the healing touch of Christ? Have you knelt before Him and begged Him to make you clean? He is willing. Are you willing to be made clean and having been made clean, are you willing to obey?
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