A leper came to [Jesus] begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ (Mark 1:40-41)
The leper was breaking the law by speaking to Jesus. He must have been desperately lonely and fed-up with being exiled from the community and forced to cry out, “Unclean, unclean.”
Imagine waking up one day during the time of Jesus with a skin disease. We’re taken to the priest, who determines that our house needs to be closed and that we need to be banished from our family. Not only will we, in time, actually die from the disease, but we’ll already be withering away because everything that had mattered has been taken away.
There are two people who are breaking the law in this episode. The leper breaks the law by speaking to Jesus, and Jesus breaks the law by “touching” him. Jesus knows that after touching the leper, some will consider Him unclean. What others think doesn’t matter to Jesus. Jesus trusts that the leper won’t contaminate him. Instead, Jesus trusts that He’ll heal the leper.
The healing for the leper had begun even before Jesus proclaimed the words: “Be made clean!” The healing began when Jesus didn’t run away; it continued when He stopped to listen, and it deepened when He touched him.
Many of us feel unclean. Either because of something we have done, or some addiction, or some besetting sin. We dress up, we cry, “Clean, clean,” but many have a little voice in their heads that whispers: “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t welcome me, touch me, be my friend.”
I encourage us to bring our untouchable parts to Jesus. He wants us to kneel before him, like the leper. He wants us to ask for His touch, like the leper. He wants us to have faith, like the leper. He wants to heal us, like the leper. Jesus wants us to trust that He can touch and make clean all persons, all messes, all sins, and all diseases.
- Have you ever felt unclean, damaged, contagious, or banished? If so, when and what was your infirmity?
- Are there any untouchable parts of your life that you now need to bring to Jesus?
- Have you ever considered any particular person or group to be unclean? Does Jesus reaching out to the leper inspire or compel you to reach out to anyone you might have banished?