Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cleansing the Sinner

I was reading in Mark 1 on Monday morning and was struck by the last section in the chapter where Jesus cleanses the leper. This happens many times in the gospels where Jesus heals a person and tells them to say nothing to anyone about what took place. In Mark 1 we read:

"And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, 'If you will, you can make me clean.' Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, 'I will; be clean.' And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, 'See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.'" (40-44)

Jesus heals this man of a skin decease that basically leads people to the grave. With leprosy there was not much hope for life and lepers were declared unclean. Lepers were outcasts. The life they had left on this earth was spent in isolation and rejection until they died. This was a horrific decease. Yet Jesus heals the man and then warns him not to say a word.

"But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news" (45)

Of course he did. He had been healed. He was told to go show the priests so they could declare him clean and he could be welcomed back to society. Life was granted to him again. The leper could not keep quiet about his cleansing from Jesus. As I read I saw something sad in my own life and in what I see in a lot of Christianity. This leper was cleansed of his leprosy. He was commanded not to speak yet he spoke the news to everyone. Christians, on the other hand, are commanded to proclaim the Gospel to all. We are commanded to make disciples yet we keep our mouths shut so often. This is grieving but it's not even the saddest part of it all. We have greater news to proclaim than this man. This man had been cleansed of a decease but we have the forgiveness of sins to proclaim. We have the message "of first importance" to tell the world, yet so often our mouths are shut.

Christian, may we be people who speak the Good News of Christ crucified to a dying world. He has taken spiritually dead people and made them alive in Christ. Why are we not the people going out and speaking freely about this great message of hope and salvation? May we be like the cleansed leper and "spread the news", the Good News.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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