Wednesday, October 24, 2012


A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
Mark 1:40-45

In the Old Testament and in life we get a clear picture of the way that contamination works. From experience we know that if you toss a piece of clean white linen into the mud, the mud doesn't miraculously become clean. On the contrary, the linen is soiled. That's the direction that contamination flows. Dirty things mar clean things. The Old Testament tells us that, much like that mud, sick people contaminate well people. This is why God gave the Israelites a lot of specific instructions on how to handle leprosy (Leviticus 13 & 14). I don't know of anywhere in the Old Testament where it says that the leprous man should touch something or someone who is clean, and upon doing so he will become clean. In fact, the Old Testament had a lot of instructions for how leprous people were to avoid coming into contact with anyone who was healthy. Leviticus 13:45-46, for example, requires certain lepers to live outside the camp and cry out "Unclean! Unclean!" to help keep people away.

But in this passage Jesus reverses the flow of contamination. When Jesus touches the leprous man, He is not contaminated with his leprosy. On the contrary, the leprous man is contaminated with Jesus' cleanness and health. Jesus has power over this illness. He has the power to remove and to restore and to make whole again. And what is perhaps even more interesting is that Jesus doesn't have to touch the man to heal him. He could have simply said, be healed. He heals from a distance elsewhere (Matthew 8:5-13). But Jesus chose to heal him by touching him. We cannot imagine what this must have meant to this man. His leprosy has placed a stigma on him. No one touches him anymore. No one hugs him, or comes near him, unless they also have the disease. But the maker of the universe walks over and enters into his uncleanness...his sickness and takes it away. What a beautiful example of God's love and of how Christ humbles Himself to enter into our circumstances to show us that love. It is downright incarnational.

Jesus has this same power over all illnesses, all weaknesses, and all sin. It is only Jesus who restores and makes clean and whole. It is only Jesus who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. It is only He who can restore you to right relationship with God. Whatever your problem, whatever your illness, whatever you are lacking, rest assured that Jesus is the answer. This doesn't mean that He will do exactly what you want Him to do. Or that all your problems will go away immediately. But Jesus will set you free from your sin if you ask. He will give you the perseverance and strength to face your struggles and be victorious over them. Sometimes, He chooses to heal people through death, setting them free from their disease by leading them home to heaven. At other times, He heals them right here and now and sends them off to live for God in this world. Don't get me wrong, Jesus isn't going to pay all your bills, and beat up all your enemies, and get you a raise at work. But He alone is the storehouse that can provide for all your needs, and He alone has the wisdom to discern when to simply meet your needs and when to help you as you struggle against them. Come to Jesus. Bring your illness, your disease, your sin, and let His Spirit touch you and heal you today. And then go out and help others carry their burdens the way He has carried yours.

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