By CRAIG HARRIS
Mark 1: 40-45 (NIV): 40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." 41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. 43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 "See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
We can understand this man's desperation. He broke the law and approached Jesus. He fell at his feet and humbled himself, begging Jesus for compassion. We must not let anything stop us from getting to Jesus. Nothing is more important that our relationship with God. And the man came humbly. Jesus said we cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless we come as a child (Mark 10:15). This means we humble ourselves before God and acknowledge that he alone can save us. We cannot save ourselves any more than this leper could heal himself.
Don't you love Jesus' response to him? He didn't rebuke him for getting close, instead he touched him. That man needed another person to touch him as much as he needed healing. And Jesus healed him too. Some people would throw rocks at lepers to make sure they didn't come close, Jesus reached and touched him. Do we throw rocks at the untouchable or show compassion? Jesus meets us at our point of need and we should do the same.
It's interesting that Jesus told him not to tell anyone, but to follow the Law and go to a priest. Jesus was trying to contain the crowds. Because of this man's disobedience, Jesus was forced to stay out of the towns and out in barren places. There are always consequences to our actions. I'm glad Jesus touches us, even though we are unclean because of our sin. I'm glad he makes us clean and gives us new life. I'm glad he is always willing to show compassion.
Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel “The Dead Peasants File” are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist churches.