In the first chapter of Mark’s gospel we are introduced to a leper, who at first glance appears to worship Jesus by kneeling down before Him. However, upon closer look we see a man who questioned Jesus’ willingness to help him, even though he knew that Jesus had the power to do so. Jesus’ power was becoming widely known, which was attested to by His mighty miracles. Undoubtedly this leper had suffered greatly at the hands of his fellow countrymen who would have rejected him because of his leprosy. But then Jesus was no ordinary man that he should expect the same of him.
I love the following line from verse 41, “Moved with compassion…” which so accurately depicts the Son of God, who came to seek and to save those who are lost. Jesus unequivocally and immediately responded to this leper’s plea for help by stretching out his hand and healing him. Leper’s would be sent out of the camp according to Jewish law because they were considered unclean, but instead of sending him out Jesus touched him; for this often rejected leper Jesus’ touch was nothing short of divine love. The touch was immediately followed by cleanness, which means he was not only made clean of the leprosy but would also be accepted back into society. This was no small matter but was indeed a life changing experience of immense proportions.
Jesus followed the healing of this man with a commission to go to the religious leaders according to the law as a testimony to them; Jesus wanted the keeping of the law set forth in the people’s minds so that physical healing would not become central to them. Following Jesus’ commissioning of the man to go and show himself to the priests, He then commanded him to say nothing, which could have been temporary until the keeping of the law was established. In wicked response to Jesus’ commission and command this leper went out from Jesus and freely spread the news around, which resulted in Jesus not being able to minister to others. This leper was set free to mingle with all the people because he was made clean by Jesus, but Jesus was relegated to the wilderness because of the disobedience of this leper. Jesus could of silenced this leper just as he did so many demons with just a word, but instead he tested this man to see whether or not he would be faithful, but alas, he was rebellious.
Why would this leper responded in disobedience to the man who removed this horrible and incurable disease of leprosy, which then made him socially acceptable among his people? This man came to Jesus for what he could get from him, like so many in his day and ours, but he cared nothing for Jesus or the love He offered him. He came to get but lost out on the greatest part, which was Christ Himself and the love of God through Him. He never saw Christ as Lord, which is evidence by his lack of obedience and overt rebellion. The love of Christ could have healed his soul, but instead he was only left with a healed body and a corrupt mind. Actually, he was worse off than at the beginning because he rejected the additional light he received about Christ.
In contrast to this unthankful leper of chapter one we meet a man possessed of a legion of demons in Mark chapter five. This man was uncontrollable and obviously dangerous because they tried to bind him with chains and shackles, but because of his inhuman strength they could not. This man like the leper ran to meet Jesus and bowed down before Him. It is a strange request that comes from his lips that Jesus might not torment him, which we realize quickly is not the man speaking but a demon. Jesus begins to carry on a conversation with the demon, who then request to be sent into a herd of swine rather than out of the county or place of torment. Here we can observe the kingdom of Satan, where beings are quite content to spend their time tormenting others, verse 5, “Each night and every day among the tombs and in the mountains, he would cry out and cut himself with stones” but yet not want Jesus to exercise justice and torment them.
When Jesus cast the legion of demons out of this man he became sane and was found by the people to be in his right mind, and so much so that he wanted to be with Jesus. The man actually implored Jesus, begged Him that he might accompany him in the boat. He was content to leave his home, which he could now return to and re-establish relationships, but all he could see was Jesus.
Jesus refused to allow the man to accompany Him, but said, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you." Jesus cast out the legion of demons but when he restates what took place he used the term great things, which is in the plural. Many demons had occupied this man and we are not told how long that took, and like people who make many ungodly choices, which in turn lead to many bondages of sin, so this man became a slave to his demons. When Jesus healed this man He healed him of great things, which is a beautiful picture of Christ to heal much and not just a little. Today, the lie is told and has gained momentum that people are first and primarily victims, no the Bible teaches that we are primarily sinners. Christ died for sinners, and apart from an acknowledgment of sin Christ can do nothing for you. By His own words, Jesus had mercy on the man, he released him from many forms of bondage and many demons, these were the result of his own wicked choices. Christ released the man, the man did not release himself, and so the message for us today is believe in Jesus’ willingness to save, and do not doubt His love or compassion.
Unlike the leper, when the formerly demon possessed man was given a command by Jesus to go tell what great things He did for him, he went out and did just as he was told. Jesus could not have loved him more than to set his soul free to worship Christ as Lord. This man proclaimed Jesus as Lord with his lips, his actions, by self-denial, and out of a love for Christ. Ask me why people obey Christ and I will tell you it is because they love Christ, and they love Him because He first loved them. Love is the great motivator in the Christian life, by it we stand or fall, by it we call Jesus Christ Lord, and without it we do not really know Him at all. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.” Christian, be comforted by the love Christ has for you, and the sacrifice he made on your behalf; do not be afraid to call sin, sin because He is willing to have mercy. Loved one, who is outside of Christ, only the love of Christ is worth living or dying for, all the rest is a waste of time. Do not question His willingness to make you clean; embrace the love He has for you and do not refuse to call Him Lord.