It seems fitting that I bring back Monday School since I’m in school again myself.
What stirred me is the story of the cleansed man in Mark chapter 1. I can’t get it out of my head, which is part of the reason Monday School exists in the first place.
The same story is found in Matthew and Luke, but I think Mark tells the better one.
39 He went into all of Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. 40 Then a man with leprosy came to him and, on his knees, begged him, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched him. “I am willing,” he told him. “Be made clean.” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 Then he sternly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 telling him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go and show yourself to the priest, and offer what Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”[d]45 Yet he went out and began to proclaim it widely and to spread the news, with the result that Jesus could no longer enter a town openly. But he was out in deserted places, and they came to him from everywhere.Mark 1 CSB
Moved With Compassion
Several remarkable events happen in the story. First, the man with leprosy broke all the rules when he approached Jesus. According to Old Testament law recorded in Leviticus 13:45-46, lepers were required to be isolated from society.
Second, the man fell to his knees, bowed before Jesus, and called him Lord (Matthew 8:2 CSB). The sick man knew Jesus was more than a man. He was confident he could be healed, if Jesus was willing.
The next part is what makes Mark’s version my favorite. “Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched him.” Imagine what the man thought or felt when Jesus touched him. Most people backed away from him in disgust and fear, but Jesus touched him and told him, “I am willing.” We’re not told how long the man had leprosy before this divine encounter. However long, it was long enough for him to risk suffering the consequences of breaking the law if he was caught. Long enough for him to endure the sneers of rejection. The possible consequences and the certain rejection were more bearable than to continue to suffer with leprosy, away from his friends, family, and community.
Jesus was and is willing. The man was healed.
Jesus told the man to keep quiet about what happened and to go see the priest. In his joy, the man told the news to everyone.
What Didn’t Happen
What didn’t happen in the story is as remarkable as what did.
- Jesus didn’t ask the man a series of questions. No right answers required.
- Jesus didn’t ask for a statement of belief.
- Jesus didn’t ask him how long it had been since he’d been to synagogue.
- Jesus didn’t reprimand him for breaking protocol regarding his skin disease.
We do these things. We require right answers to the questions we want answered. We tell others what they must believe. We issue statements and deem them biblical. We grasp for authority and demand submission. We side with the powerful, and neglect the vulnerable.
Father, let us seek Your face instead of all the right answers. Holy Spirit, guide us into truth. Jesus, may we be moved with compassion as you are.
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