Mark introduces us to another miracle of the Son of God. We have already learned that He could heal all manner of diseases and cast out devils, but how would He cope with the worst ailment of that day? Leprosy was feared by all, so would Jesus avoid coming into contact with it?
The dreadful disease
“And there came a leper to Him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to Him, and saying unto Him, If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean” (Mark 1:40).
We do not see much of leprosy in the western world, but it does still exist in India, Africa and the Middle East. In fact there is an organization called “The Leprosy Mission” who assist all such people. Leprosy was totally incurable in Bible times. Some commentators suggest that the word covered various skin conditions, but that is not true. Leprosy affected the skin, blood and bones of the individual, until his fingers, toes, nose and ears would rot and drop off. The whole body of the leper was rotting away! Added to this, he was isolated from the community and was considered to be unclean. Never was the leper allowed to come into direct contact with a healthy person.
Sin is worse than leprosy for it infects every part of the being, spirit, soul, body, conscience, will, memory, understanding and affections. It destroys whatever it touches. It makes us unfit to be in God’s presence, thus we are unclean, “we are all as an unclean thing” (Isaiah 64:6). It is worse than leprosy because it drags the sinner into the Lake of Fire. The leper knew his condition and would cry “unclean unclean!” to warn others, but the spiritual leper has no such knowledge or conscience.
The tender touch
“And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed” (Mark 1:41-42).
The Lord Jesus Christ was not put off by this dreadful disease, instead, moved with compassion, He actually touched the man. Onlookers must have thought He was mad to do the unthinkable. At His tender touch the man was made whole.
We can only imagine the excitement and joy the man must have felt when he saw that his leprosy had completely and instantly disappeared. The impossible had happened! No doubt he wanted to go and tell of this wonderful event to everyone he met.
We have an amazing story to tell too. We were spiritual lepers, unclean before God, and enslaved to sin, but somebody touched us and healed our sin-sick souls. Isaiah 59:2-3 states, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness”, yet the Saviour came to set us free the moment we confessed to Him our need for forgiveness and salvation.
The odd order
“And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to Him from every quarter” (Mark 1:44-45).
Jesus commanded him to keep quiet about what had happened because He did not want the excitement to interfere with the preaching of the gospel. The man could not contain himself and so went and spread the news to all he met. His disobedience hindered the Lord’s work.
Boisterous zeal is not normally the method God asks His followers to display while spreading the word of God, for He does not want our emotions to get in the way of His work. Sometimes we have that zeal which lacks wisdom. We must never allow the our good works to take the place of God’s best. It is an amazing fact, one that is unfortunately true, that Jesus commands us to tell everyone we meet about Him, yet we usually remain silent.
The Son of God knows what is best for everyone of us. He has done so much for us by saving our souls and answering our prayers. Yes, we must tell the world about what God has done, but in doing so let us not forget to let them see the Redeemer instead of the redeemed, the Blessed One rather than the blessed, and the Healer instead of the healed. He will receive all the glory if we point the sinner to Him, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).