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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1/20/10- Mark 1:40-45 Reaching out to the Unclean

1/20/10- Mark 1:40-45 (PP. MATTHEW 8:1-4;LUKE 5:12-16)

40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." 41 Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 "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." 45 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.

Calvin abridged: This was a striking display of divine power over a devastating disease that was difficult to cure and from which it was rare that any person recovered. There was nothing human about this miracle. The leper kneeled before him in either respect or worship, but at least acknowledging the divine power in Christ to heal. When Christ claimed “I am willing” he shows he was making a divine claim for himself. 41- “he reached out his hand”- under the Law, to touch a leper was infectious. But Christ’s purity repelled all defilement so that he doesn’t pollute himself with leprosy nor break the law. So when Christ reached out to us- descending from heaven even to hell, he did not lose his innocence; and took away all our impurities.

Thoughts: Calvin is brilliant in his pointing out that the healing of the leper is similar to Christ’s healing us from our sins. As Christ reached out to the leper, so Christ reaches out to us. Our sins were horrific, yet he still became flesh for us. The real difference is that Christ suffered for our sins on the cross, whereas the leper’s healing only risked suffering. Christ could have healed the leper (as he healed others) without touching him. Yet his touch was a touch of love, grace, and sympathy for a man who had probably not felt a human touch in years. The leper could not contain his joy, even though Christ asked him to do so. As a result, Christ was limited in his ministry. In contrast, Jesus now tells us to go into all the world, and tells us to let others know the good news, but we are silent. Now it is our silence which limits our ministry. God’s power to heal and help is still around, but we are silent as a stone. The Christian effort in Haiti is not going unnoticed now. But it is not an earthly king or president that is ordering us to go to touch those who are at risk. Rather it is the King of kings whose love and example compels us to give, to aid, and to pray. The world needs to know what motivates believers.

Prayer: Lord as you reached out to the leper and to us, help me to reach out to others with your love.

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