These are my notes from a sermon series I did though the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for grammatical or spelling errors. I present it to you as-is.
We have been learning about following Jesus. To follow Jesus you must know who you are following and what following Jesus looks like. Mark is going to help us with that. Last week we began looking at an encounter Jesus had with a leper. From this encounter we learn some things about ourselves and about Jesus.
Let’s dive into this.
Mark 1:40-45 says, A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. 43 Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: 44 “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” 45 But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him. (NLT)
There are two people we need to take a look at. We need to take a look at the leper and we need to take a look at the Lord.
What we learn from the leper
Last week we took a detailed look at the leper. From him we learned…
- We come to Jesus just as we are. Just like the leper who came to Jesus full of leprosy, we can come to Jesus full of sin.
- We come to Jesus with desperation. Just like the leper who approached Jesus knowing that Jesus was his last hope, we come to Jesus knowing He is are only hope.
- We come to Jesus with humility. Just like the leper who knelt before Jesus, we kneel our lives before Jesus acknowledging that He is Lord.
- We come to Jesus with respect. Just like the leper who said, “If you are willing…” indicating that he knew Jesus was in charged and believing Jesus could do something for him, we come to Jesus with respect knowing that He is in charge. Like the leper we don’t demand, we ask.
- We come to Jesus with confidence. Just like the leper who knew Jesus could heal him and cleanse him, we come to Jesus knowing He can forgive us and cleanse us of our sin.
What we learn about Jesus
This brings us to Jesus. Today I want us to focus our attention on how Jesus responds to this leper, because it is the same way Jesus will respond to you. As we take a look at Jesus we are learning about the kind of Lord we are following. What does this teach us about Jesus?
Number one, we learn that Jesus cares. Mark tells us that Jesus was “moved with compassion” (splanchnizomai) toward this man. Jesus sympathized with this man’s horrible condition, he felt the agony of this man’s isolation and distress and He grieved for what this man had lost over the years. Jesus’ compassion moved Him to take action and do something for this man. Throughout the gospels you will find Jesus being moved by compassion. Every time you see this Jesus does something to help the person. Jesus is a compassionate Lord.
Psalm 86:15 says, “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God” (CSB). Jesus cares about you more than you will ever know. He is concerned for your life. That’s part of who He is. When you are following Jesus you are following a caring and loving God.
As followers of Jesus we must follow the path of compassion. We are to love our neighbors. Have compassion on those who are hurting, who are afraid, or worried. We are told in Colossians 3:12, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another” (vs. 12-13, CSB). Instead of putting on anger, impatience, rudeness, unkindness be a person who cares, is compassionate, kind, understanding, and patient with others.
We learn that Jesus cares, and number two: we learn Jesus identifies. He identifies with us. I want you to notice the first thing that Jesus did after He was moved with compassion. Mark tells us that “Jesus reached out and touched him.” Ever since this man had been diagnosed with leprosy, no one had touched him. Yet here, in a moment of total vulnerability, as his face was in the dirt begging for deliverance, Jesus reached out and healed the man with a touch.
In the Bible a touch can mean so much more than just a touch. For example, when the people would offer up sacrifices to God they would lay their hands on them as a way of identifying with the animal with the symbolic act of the sins being transferred to the animal before the animal was sacrificed.
When Jesus was touching this man he was identifying with the leper. He was entering into the leper’s world. Everyone who saw it thought Jesus was contaminating himself, but in reality Jesus was symbolically passing His power to the leper. Jesus was willing to touch the leper, enter into his world, but give the leper what he could never find on his own.
Jesus is willing to touch those who have been rejected, abandoned, and forgotten. His compassion reaches to those who you see and those you don’t see. When Jesus touched this man, His touch said, “I love you just like you are and I am here to help you.”
As followers of Jesus we will need to do the same. We will have to enter the world of people, identify with their pain, and touch their lives letting them know, “I love you just like you are and I am here to help you.”
So far, we learn that Jesus cares for us and He identifies with us, but Jesus also heals us. Mark tells us that when Jesus reached out and touched the man He said, “I am willing, be healed!” And just like that Mark says, Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.
Instantly (euthys) the leprosy vanished. The man was “healed” in the ceremonial sense and completely restored to full health in the medical understanding of the word. There was no period of recovery or rehabilitation. He who had come disfigured, defiled, and despicable was instantly transformed into a man in full health, completely cured, and ready to be restored to society.
I believe the healing was perfectly complete and on a divine level. What I mean by this is he was not only cured of the leprosy, but all this disfigurement was corrected along with it. His response indicates that he was very aware that he was healed. He not only felt the difference, but he could see the difference in his skin, limbs, and body. What I’m saying is, if this man had lost a toe due to the leprosy it was restored, if the man had lost an ear it was restored. We are talking divine healing.
That leper was given a brand new life in that very moment. That is what Jesus does when He touches a life. He gives the person He touches a new life instantly. He literally makes them into “new creatures” by His amazing power (2 Cor. 5:17).
Jesus can do this physically, but He also does this spiritually. He cleanses people from sin every day. He heals their fears, their worries, their anxieties, and their doubts. He gives them a new heart, new hope, new mind, and new direction and purpose in life. Jesus heals!
We are reminded that Jesus cares for us just as we are. He identifies with us in our pain. He heals us and cleanses us, but Jesus also sends us. Look carefully at what Jesus does next. Mark tells us in verse 43, Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: 44 “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
We are told that “Jesus sent him on his way.” Jesus gave this man a mission. Jesus had changed his life and now Jesus wants to work through his life. The same is true for you and me. When Jesus saves us and does wonderful things in our lives He is going to send you on a mission. He has a task for you. There are people who need to hear what He has done in your life.
Be careful here, because Jesus gave this man specific instructions. Jesus gave this man a target audience. Jesus told him to do two things.
- Jesus said, Don’t tell anyone about this. This was a “stern warning.” Jesus was serious about this. My guess is Jesus lowered his face, grabbed his attention, and looked him in the eye and clearly told him to keep this to himself. Jesus would issue warnings like this from time to time to try to keep the frenzy down as long as possible. He knew that the more miracles He did the more miracles people would want. As a result, the message of God’s kingdom and eternal life would get lost.
The important thing to note is that every single miracle, sign and wonder that Jesus performed throughout His ministry was intended to confirm the gospel message that He was proclaiming. They were part of His ministry, but not the main event. The primary purpose of Jesus’ ministry on earth was to proclaim the gospel.
- Jesus said, Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed. Jesus is telling this man, “Before you go and tell everyone what I have done for you, go to the priest and let him examine you according to Leviticus 14. Go through the requirements of the Mosaic law regarding contagious skin diseases so you can be declared officially cleansed and healed.”
Sometimes, I think its important and necessary to go get a doctors official diagnoses that you are healed before announcing to everyone that you are healed. Some Christians will declare a healing when there is no proof there was a healing. This is where you are able to say, “Last month I had cancer, but this month the doctors could not find any trace of it. It’s gone.” “Last week I had a tumor, but the doctors can no longer find it. It’s gone.”
- For this leper there was a very practical reason for him to go to the priest and be officially pronounced cleansed and healed. No one was going to let him back into the society without an official document saying he had been healed.
- The procedure for this required taking two birds and killing one of them in an earthenware vessel over running water.
- The other bird, along with cedar wood, a scarlet string, and hyssop, was then dipped in the blood of the bird that had been sacrificed.
- The former leper was sprinkled seven times and pronounced clean by the priest, and the live bird was set free in an open field.
- The person was then required to wash his clothes, shave off all his hair (including eyebrows), and bathe himself in water. After remaining outside of his tent for seven days, he would bring appropriate offerings to the priest on the eighth day. Then, upon offering the needed sacrifices, he would be anointed with oil by the priest, signifying he was clean.
There is a lot of symbolism that point to Jesus in that ritual. For example, the bird that was put into a jar and sacrificed points to Jesus incarnation and death upon the cross. The bird stained with blood and set free points to Jesus resurrection and ascension. The anointing of oil on the healed man points to the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus wanted him to go through the official requirements so that it would be a “public testimony” to the priest and those who heard about it. Any priests involved in pronouncing this former leper clean would have been confronted with the reality of Jesus’ undeniable healing power.
Jesus sent him away with the intent of him becoming a witness to a specific group, mainly the priests at the temple. Even though we can share our story of what God has done in our lives with everyone, the reality is God has a specific target group for you in mind. There are certain people that your story is going to connect with, so share it. Be intentional. Be strategic. Go where Jesus sends you.
Jesus cares. Jesus identifies. Jesus heals. Jesus sends. And Jesus exchanges. Jesus exchanges places with the leper and with us. Look carefully at what Mark says in verse 45, But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him. There are few things I want you to see here.
- Righteous disobedience can hinder the Lord’s ministry. What do I mean by righteous disobedience? Righteous disobedience is doing something for God that God does not want you to do. The leper was excited about what Jesus had done for him. It was a miracle. It was life changing. However, for the leper Jesus specifically told him to go tell the priest and get officially declared cleansed so he could re-enter society. The leper disobeyed Jesus and went told everyone he could find. This didn’t help the ministry of Jesus, it hurt it. The leper was enthusiastic for God, but it was misdirected. Paul said something similar in Romans 10:2, “I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal” (NLT).
- It is possible to say the right words at the wrong time and do great damage. We ought to pray for spiritual discernment when it comes to what we say and do for the Lord. the right words at the right time can be used of the Lord in wonderful ways. Proverbs 15:23 says, “It is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!” (NLT).
- Jesus and the leper exchange places. This is ironic. The leper had to live outside of the towns, but Jesus could move around freely within them. After Jesus healed the man, the man could freely live inside the town, but Jesus had to remain outside the towns. It’s like they had changed places. Mark says Jesus “couldn’t publically enter a town anywhere.” Some see this as a hint of what’s to come for Jesus. Jesus exchanges places for the lepers of the world. Jesus exchanges places for the sinners of this world. Instead of us going to the cross, Jesus goes to the cross. Instead of us dying for our sins, Jesus dies for our sins.
Jesus cares about you. He loves you. He has a plan for your life. Part of that plan includes Him touching your life and cleansing you of your sin. Just call out to Him. Let Jesus do what only He can do. When you are forgiven then do what Jesus tells you do. You have a purpose.