Posted on July 10, 2013
#10: Touching Lepers
Hi! So happy to be with you again to study Mark’s gospel. If you’re just joining us, you’ll find earlier posts from this series in the archive. Each week we add another piece to the portrait of Jesus—the Word made flesh. Each week we understand a bit more about how God would live as a man (see week 1). Grab your Bible and come along!
Read Mark 1:40-45.
Also read Matthew 8:1-4 and Luke 5:12-16.
Jesus had left Capernaum and begun traveling through Galilee. In one town a man came, falling to his knees before Jesus. “If You are willing,” the man pleaded, “You can make me clean.” Gasping, the crowds drew back when they saw the man’s condition. He was a leper—an untouchable.
According to their Law, a leper “must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’….He must live alone; he must live outside the camp.” (Lev. 13:45-46 NIV) There was no cure. To touch a leper was to risk such a hopeless existence for oneself.
Luke says this man was covered with leprosy. How long had he been apart from normal life? How long away from his family? How long alone? When had he last felt human touch?
Though no one deliberately made physical contact with a leper, all three gospels make a point of mentioning that Jesus touched him. With Jesus’ touch came one beautiful, impossible word no leper dared hope for: “Katharistheti!” Be clean.
“Immediately,” Mark writes, “the leprosy left him.” Diseased, ragged skin was restored to health. Fingers and toes half eaten away were made new. Nose and eyelids were whole. A walking dead man was given life.
Jesus told the man to go show himself to the priest, following the Law’s process to be declared officially clean. The leper’s clear skin would testify to the priest that Jesus was Lord over an “incurable” disease. Otherwise, the healed man was to tell no one. But who could keep such news to himself? He’d been given new life, and he had to shout it! “He went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news.” (vs. 45)
Touching the Untouchable
Jesus was willing to touch the untouchable. Instead of drawing away, He reached out a hand of compassion and made the unclean clean. Jesus saw the man as he would be—new, whole, alive—and not as he was. Therefore, it was no problem to touch him.
If we viewed people as Jesus does, seeing them as they could be instead of as they are, would we be more gracious interacting with them, touching their lives?
• When Jesus looks at the greedy business man who is my boss, what does He see? What should I see?
• When Jesus looks at my alcoholic coworker, what does He see? What should I see?
• When Jesus looks at my grumpy neighbor, what does He see? What should I see?
• When Jesus looks at my rebellious teen, what does He see? What should I see?
• When Jesus saw me, what did He see??
What potential is tapped each time Jesus touches a life? When He triumphantly says, “Katharistheti! Be clean!”, the old is gone, the new has come. (2 Cor. 5:17) All things are possible!
What do you think?
How has Jesus’ touch transformed you?
Think of two or three people you need to see through Jesus’ eyes. Think of them not as they are, but as they could be if touched by Him. Commit to praying daily for their new life!
© Diane McLoud 2013