Mark mentioned, in yesterday’s reading, that Jesus was teaching in the synagogues and casting out demons. He didn’t mention Jesus healing people. I wondered about it at the time, but it seems that Mark didn’t mention it because he wanted to share specific healings instead of just a lump sum statement. Today Mark shares about a man with leprosy who came to Jesus.
Mark doesn’t tell us how this man came to the conclusion that Jesus could heal him or if he had watched Jesus in action before. What he does tell us is about the man’s absolute conviction that Jesus could help him, IF He only wanted to. He came to Jesus begging Him for help. He was on his knees and didn’t care who saw him there. He was a diseased nobody already, what is a little more groveling going to do to him? This man shouldn’t have even been coming up to a healthy person, because of the restrictions put on those with this disease, but he was desperate and KNEW help was within his reach.
When he came to Jesus, his attitude says to me that he didn’t even think himself worthy of healing. “I know You can heal and I know You can heal me, but only if You want to. I probably don’t deserve healing, but I am desperate. I’m in pain all the time. I’m treated as dirt. I can’t go on like this any longer! I have nothing to offer You in return, but would You please help me anyway?”
Jesus saw this man’s desperation and it moved His heart. Mark says Jesus was “moved with pity” when He reached out and touched the man. This was another “no-no” where this disease was concerned. NO CONTACT was the rule. Jesus wasn’t afraid of contracting this man’s disease by touching him, but I believe the main reason Jesus reached out and touched him was to return the human connection that was stripped away from the man by his disease. He was isolated and completely alone, even in a crowded city, but Jesus ended his sentence of loneliness with His touch.
Jesus’ words that followed healed more than the man’s skin, it healed his heart and soul. He was worth it! Jesus actually agreed to give of Himself to this lowliest of men. He was esteemed worthy of the master’s touch.
This man is overjoyed with Jesus’ gift of healing and love! Now Jesus wants him to be quiet about it. This was probably the hardest thing ANYONE had ever asked him to do. Not shout or even speak about the joy bubbling inside of him. He was allowed to tell the priest for the cleansing inspection and offering, but no one else.
He carried out his instructions in reverse order though. We are not told he even went to the priest but we do know that he told ANYONE else who would listen. Was he able to hold his tongue for a little while or did he run off shouting down the street? Did he make it to the priest, then start sharing? He couldn’t hold it in anymore!
The people from that area apparently knew the man’s circumstances before and after meeting with Jesus. They were able to verify with their own eyes the miracle the man claimed he had received. This obvious miracle and Jesus’ willingness to touch even the lowest of low gave everyone hope for a miracle from Jesus. “If He is willing and able to heal ______ then certainly He can help me.” A new hope for the hopeless! No wonder people came out in droves. Everyone wanted what He was offering. So many people came that Jesus couldn’t even walk down the streets in town anymore. He met with as many as would come out in the wilderness places. He would continue to teach and touch wherever He went.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your great compassion. You went above and beyond with that man. You could have simply spoken the words for his healing but you reached out and touched him, body and soul. I don’t know how many times I have come to You dirty and disgusting, but You reach out and touch me just the same. You send me personal poems or plant a song in my heart, even though I don’t deserve it. You do it anyway. Thank You for that AMAZING love! You are my hope in a hopeless world.