Mark 1:40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Leprosy is an infectious skin disease characterized by disfiguring skin sores, nerve damage, and progressive and irreversible damage. Let me point something out to you: the law did not allow for a person with leprosy to just walk into town and approach someone.
Leviticus 13:45–46 “Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, Unclean! Unclean!’ He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.
For the leper to violate this by approaching others would have been a death sentence for him, but this time was different. You see, when nobody else was willing to allow this leprous man to approach, Jesus was not only willing for this man to draw near to Him, but He drew near to this man.
A few days ago, I read a newspaper article about a young girl who committed suicide. She was being abused and was forced into prostitution and didn’t know where to turn for help. In the days before she killed herself, she tweeted over 400 times looking for someone to express some hope to her. In another corner of the world, a toddler was hit by a car and lay in the street dying while people walked by. I wonder how many people you and I pass each and every day that are thinking, “If you are willing you can make me feel loved.”
So, this leper … this reject of society … unclean … diseased … hard to look at … he probably smelled … with oozing sores … how would Jesus respond to this man?
Mark 1:41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
Leprosy itself was a death sentence … a slow, miserable, lonely, painful process, starting with separation from everything and everyone you held dear and ending in physical death. Life for a leper was a living nightmare. In fact, most religious leaders of that day considered a leper as someone already dead. Jesus, on the other hand, allowed lepers and sinners to come to Him. He also went to them. In fact, Jesus allows all men to approach Him, no matter the infirmity … and all men are infirmed. This is our model. This is our Lord, Jesus modeling to us …
Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
We are not to isolate ourselves from those who are in need of healing and it’s not for us to decide who should receive the gospel. God so loves the world, despite the world. This leper would have been easy for Jesus to reject, just like you and I. But God, in the full and wonderful expression of His divine attributes of tenderheartedness, mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience chose to make the way for our redemption.
The good news is not exclusive. It’s for everyone to hear and some to accept. Let us commit today that no matter: who they are, what they look like, what they sound like, what they smell like or what they act like, we will point them to Jesus.