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February 27, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’”—Mark 1:40 (NKJV)
We come to one of the most memorable moments in the life of Jesus. Few things instilled more fear or misery in the ancient world than leprosy. Without any known cure or treatment, the victims of leprosy were forced into a state of quarantine from their families and communities. A leper who even tried to approach an uninfected person ran the risk of being stoned to death. They were the most unwanted and rejected of society.
Such a man decided it was worth the risk to venture into the presence of Jesus, whose reputation as a miracle healer had preceded Him. How this reputation came to him is unknown, all that matters is he knew enough to know that with Jesus there was at least a chance for the impossible to occur. The moment came, he cried out for help, and what followed still leaves us spellbound two millennia later: “Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, and said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them’” (Mark 1:41-44 NKJV).
It’s the classic portrait of Christ’s compassion and power. He touches the untouchable and heals the unhealable. The man’s faith in both Jesus’ ability and willingness to free him from his condition is rewarded as he’s given a new lease on life. All Jesus required in return is that he say nothing to the crowds but present himself to the priests as a signal that their Messiah had arrived! But watch what he does instead: “However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places . . .” (Mark 1:45 NKJV).
It’s hard to blame this man. After all, how could he contain the swell of joy he must have had? And yet, despite his faith in Jesus, he still disobeyed Him. As a result, it created an added challenge for Jesus to minister to the multitudes.
The point? Every command of God is important. We need to pursue a lifestyle of thorough obedience, not just leading up to but also following the “miraculous moments.” Let’s obey “all the way,” trusting that every detail of our obedience is important.
PAUSE: How did this leper fall short in his obedience, and what was the consequence?
PRACTICE: Take some time to think about how this might be paralleled in your own walk with God. Examine if there is any command that you are not pursuing obedience because you think you’re doing the right thing, as this man did with telling others about Jesus.
PRAY: Father, I pray that if there is any area where I’m like this man who was healed, where out of a desire to further the gospel in my own ways and in my own time, I have stepped outside Your will that You would show me. Forgive me of those instances and seasons. Please give me the strength to obey You today and every day. Amen.