Wednesday 20 February 2013

Bible Book:

"I do choose. Be made clean!" (v. 41)

Mark 1:40-44 Wednesday 20 February 2013


Leprosy, and similar skin conditions, has a devastating impacton a person's life. In biblical times the sufferer not only had todeal with the physical effects of a debilitating and disfiguringillness, but they were completely isolated from the community,until they were formally declared clean of the disease. They wererequired to stay a safe distance from everyone. They were alsoritually unclean and unable to take part in any religious rituals.There was no known cure. It is no wonder that the leper whoapproaches Jesus is desperate.

For Jesus to reach out and touch the leper was unimaginable inthe culture of the day. Not only did he risk catching thisdisastrous disease; but he was making himself ritually unclean,unacceptable in respectable Jewish society and in the worshippinglife of his community. The action would have held an even greatersense of shock than when Princess Diana sat on the bed of an AIDSpatient and held his hand.

The thinking amongst respectable people of the day was thatassociating with, eating with, or having physical contact with,those who were of low rank or ritually unclean could contaminateyou and bring you down to the same level as them, until such timeas you had gone through the proper purification process. Jesusseemed to reverse this; he brought others up to his level. Histouch brought wholeness to those who lacked it. He made the sickwell, brought peace to those with disturbed minds and hope to thedesperate, and restored sinners into a right relationship withGod.

The leper can also be seen as a symbolic figure - the epitome ofuncleanliness, of a person cut off from God. So this healing isdemonstrating that no matter what state someone might be inspiritually, or whatever has been done, no-one is beyondforgiveness; all can be restored into a right relationship withGod. If, like the leper, we acknowledge our need, and approach intrust, we will hear the same response - "I do choose. Be madeclean!"

To Ponder

  • Is there something in your life that makes you feel cut offfrom God? How are you going to allow that to be resolved?
  • If you have already been "made clean", how would peoplerecognise that in your life?
  • How ready are you to value everyone, regardless of status, age,gender, colour, sexuality, nationality, or (dis)abilities? Arethere those you would find it difficult to welcome into your churchor social group or to recognise that they are people for whom Godhas a role? How might you change?

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