This week we continue with our series “The Miracles of Jesus” by taking a look at the healing of the leper found in Mark chapter 1:40-45. Miracles are an amazing thing. When we get to the end of our ability the ability of God is just beginning. Now we know that as Jesus and his four disciples go preaching in the “synagogues throughout the whole of Galilee,” news about the wonderful things Jesus is doing spreads widely. (Mark 1:39) Word of the healing abilities of Jesus somehow reaches one city where there is a man that is extremely sick with leprosy. Luke describes him as being “full of leprosy.” (Luke 5:12) In its advanced stages, this disease slowly disfigures and destroys various parts of the body.
Now please understand during this time that anyone with any leprosy was in a horrible condition, and was required to live away from others. Even worse on top the disease a leper was supposed to call out “unclean, unclean!” when people came near them to protect them from coming too close and risking infection. (Leviticus 13:45, 46) So this was the condition of this man and this was his life. An outcast that was forgotten and left alone to slowly die. You would think this circumstance would cause anyone to fall into depression and defeat. However, in spite of his condition this man decides to go to Jesus, fall on his face before him, and beg saying: “Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.”—Matthew 8:2.
For a moment just think about what faith the man has in Jesus! And how disfigured his disease must have made him appear! So how will Jesus respond? What would you have done if you were there? Mark tell us that Jesus was moved within, stretches out his hand, and actually touches the man. Then Jesus says to him: “I want to! Be made clean.” (Matthew 8:3) Now what happened next didn’t take minutes or hours. Though it may be hard for some to believe, the leprosy immediately leaves, and this mans body is completely healed. It’s a moment he will never forget. His life was changed from that moment forward.
Now it’s important to remember that before this event Jesus’ ministry had been creating great excitement among the people. Now people will hear about this wonderful thing that he has done. Jesus, though, does not want people to put faith in him merely on the basis to heal. He knows the prophecy that says he would “not make his voice heard in the street,” that is, in some sensational way. (Isaiah 42:1, 2) Accordingly, Jesus gives the healed leper one command: “See that you tell no one, but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses appointed.”—Matthew 8:4.
However, after getting what he wanted so badly the man is so happy over being healed that he doesn’t keep to himself what has just happened. He responds by going out and spreading the news everywhere. This rouses increased interest and curiosity among the people. Today we have the opportunity to go out and tell people about Jesus, but it wasn’t time to do that yet in His ministry. We find out from him not honoring what Jesus asked him to do that it gets to the point that Jesus cannot openly go into a city, and for a while Jesus stays in lonely places where nobody lives. Which begs a question for those of us who have been touched by Jesus: How do we respond after we get what we want from Jesus? Do we obey his commands, or do we just move on after we receive the gift of salvation or an answered prayer? This Sunday at South Side we will further unpack this miracle. Worship begins at 10:45, and we have childcare for all ages. Be sure to come early and get a fresh cup of coffee and a snack at “Café Connect.” We hope to see you then!
Barry Pettit is lead minister at South Side Church of Christ in Washington Court House.