I have recently been trying to find a new gospel. Not a new new one (You know what I mean!) but a different one of the four. I have been reading, studying, focusing on John so long that I found the need to get into another one and get a different perspective.
So I started Mark the other day. It's a quick read so it won't take long. What is immediately obvious in the first few chapters is how much Jesus loved faith. He loved it when people would step out and try something risky.
After all, it is He who picks a bunch of followers that would have made a good guest list for the Jerry Springer show and makes them His P.R. group.
In Mark 1: 40 a leper comes to Jesus. "If you are willing, you can make me clean!" For him there is no doubt that Jesus can heal him, only a doubt in His willingness. Leprosy, or any skin disorder, was seen as judgement from God. Lepers were sinners who were living out God's deserved punishment.
Was Jesus willing to let him off the hook? Maybe this man knew why he had been punished with leprosy. He did the crime and now must do the time. After years of isolation perhaps he was resigned to it. Maybe it seemed to him that there was no reason for this judgement: 'What did I do to deserve this?' All we know for sure is that when Jesus appeared there was only one question, 'Is he willing?'
Filled with compassion.
- infection. No one touched lepers! It was believed that was how the disease was spread. While Jesus may have known better but still He touches those under God's judgment
- being unclean. In declaring this man to be clean, Jesus touches him, and makes himself unclean. Mark's picture here is Jesus taking this disease upon himself. It is He who is unclean now.
Despite Jesus' warnings not to tell others, the leper's report makes it impossible for Jesus to come near any populated cities (Mark 10: 45). It is the leper who is returned to society and it is Jesus who must now stay in 'lonely places'. Jesus takes the leper's place. "He took up our infirmites and carried our diseases" (Matt. 8: 17; Is. 53: 4)
"Go and show yourselves to the priests". In doing this the former leper would be released to worship in the temple, to rejoin his family and friends. He was free of the prison of his disease and would soon observe a priest performing a cleansing ritual (Leviticus 14: 4-7) where two clean birds would be taken; one would be slain and the other would be set free.
Jesus loves it when we have faith! He rewards those who believe in Him. Free indeed!