Sunday 12 February 2012

Bible Book:

"A leper came to him, 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!'" (vv. 40-41)

Mark 1:40-45 Sunday 12 February 2012


If you ask a group of non-Christians what they know about Jesus,they will possibly describe him as a wise teacher who went aroundhealing the sick. However there is more in this familiar story thana miraculous cure, wonderful though that might be.

In Jesus' time anyone with a serious skin disease could be declaredan outcast by a priest and banished to the outskirts of a town orvillage until they died or healing took place. The law laid downthat they should tear their clothes, cover the lower part of theirface and shout, "Unclean, unclean!" to warn anyone of theirpresence (Leviticus 13).

There were also very precise instructions laid down for a priest toassess whether healing had taken place, so that the personconcerned could be declared 'clean' and returned to society. Wemight think that this process was overly complex but these weredays long before antibiotics were available, and removing victimsfrom society at least temporarily limited the spread of suchinfectious diseases.

Therefore this leper should not have even approached Jesus, andcertainly had no right to speak to him. He was either veryfoolhardy or desperate, and the dialogue would indicate thelatter.

Jesus shows great compassion and wisdom in his response. Hispriority is simply the sight of someone in need who had the faithto believe they could be healed. He looked beyond the disease tothe person behind. He saw through the disfigured skin andacknowledged a human being loved by God. This is truecompassion.

There can be a tendency in some churches to be mission-focused, butwith an unspoken hope that any new members will be 'like us' ratherthan presenting challenging needs or problems. We have to remindourselves when unlocking our church doors that Jesus welcomed allwho came to him, and reached out to embrace the outcast and therespectable alike.

To Ponder

How easy is it to push those with challengingneeds to the periphery of the church? Whose problem are they?

In the story, Jesus didn't just heal the man andlet him go on his way, he asked him to complete the process laiddown in the law for certifying a healing. Why do you think Jesusdid that?

What steps could your church take to become awelcoming place for all people, including those you might finddifficult to love?

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