A leper came to him, begging on his knees, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.” Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy. Jesus dismissed him with strict orders: “Say nothing to anyone. Take the offering for cleansing that Moses prescribed and present yourself to the priest. This will validate your healing to the people.” But as soon as the man was out of earshot, he told everyone he met what had happened, spreading the news all over town. So Jesus kept to out-of-the-way places, no longer able to move freely in and out of the city. But people found him and came from all over. Mark 1:40-45 The Message (MSG)
When we read this story, it is easy to just skim over it, adding it to the long list of miracles or good deeds Jesus did throughout his time here on earth. But this story has a much deeper message, a more profound impact than we see in just a passing glance.
Yes, Jesus heals the leper, but in so doing, He changes everything. Let's take a closer look. When the leper approaches Jesus to ask for healing, He breaks protocol. Lepers are supposed to stay back, bearing the responsibility for making sure others don't come too close, making themselves 'unclean'. Furthermore, the leper's 'request' is more of a taunt, "Nanny nanny boo boo, You COULD heal me, if you want to," (or something like that.) And Jesus responds with indignation, He is annoyed, angered. Can you see Him rolling his eyes..."really, Mr. Leper?!?!" Why would he be so bothered by this request? Isn't that what he came for?
Jesus came to heal the sick, bind up the broken, love the least of these- especially the outcasts of the time like the lepers. But, when he chooses to heal this man, the impact he makes goes far beyond this man's life. The consequence of touching the unclean means that Jesus now must change his plans. He can't continue to go from synagogue to synagogue teaching. He won't be able to enter towns with crowds of people. He becomes like the leper, cast to the outskirts, the lonely places.
So why did he do it? Why did he touch the man knowing what it would do to his plan?
The one man was more important than his plan.
Now, don't get me wrong, God's plan didn't go down the drain because of this leper's boldness and ignoring of the protocol. But when Jesus showed his willingness to reach out and touch the unclean, to altar his ministry, for this man, he was making an impact on His disciples as well.
Things were about to change, the idea of what was 'clean' and 'unclean' was going away. The disciples would begin to understand that they would need to get their hands dirty. These 'outcasts' were their target audience.
As Christians, we are called to seek out the lepers of today to come close to them, love, serve, and minister to them. Who are they? Who are the isolated, the outcast, the weirdos? Those are the people on whom we are to make an impact.
But, before we go searching the world for the lepers to serve, we must take a step back. We must take a look within our church walls, within our hearts. Who are the isolated and wounded among us within the church? Who keeps silent because the pain is too great to share? In our own lives, is there something we have yet to bring to Jesus for healing?
God is not afraid of getting his hands dirty. Nothing you have done or that someone has done to you will keep him from coming close to you, healing you, and making you whole. If you would like to find out more about how Christ can make a lasting impact in your life. Please contact us. Our pastors would love to speak with you and pray for you.