THE HEALING OF A LOST LEPER (Mark 1)

During Jesus’ earthly pilgrimage He healed masses of people in Israel.  Is it safe to assume that each and every person healed by Jesus came to Him in saving faith?  I think not!  We are told that just prior to Pentecost Jesus appeared to 500 people at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6), and in the upper room there were 120 persons gathered for prayer (Acts 1).  These numbers come woefully short of the great numbers of people that Jesus must have healed during His earthly days.  We know that on the day of Pentecost alone 3,000 people received the message and were baptized (Acts 2:41). 

In Mark’s Gospel we are told that God first sent a forerunner to prepare the way for Jesus.  John came baptizing in the Jordon and preaching a Gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sin (Mark 1:4).  So before Jesus ever appeared the people were prepared by John that sin was the problem, and that Jesus was the answer.  John told his hearers that he only  baptized with water but Jesus would do so with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8).  The authentication that Jesus was the awaited Messiah was His miracle works (John 10:37-38), but even though Jesus heal a man’s body, His main purpose was to save his soul.  The question that had to be answered by every person that came to Jesus for physical healing was, ‘what do you want Me to do for you?’, whether it was voiced by Jesus or not. 

Masses of people in our day “believe” in Jesus, just ask them and they will tell you.  “If it were not for Jesus I would not be alive right now,” or some such statement, which is usually followed by some miraculous way that Jesus touched them.  A testimony of forgiveness of sins will, however, never be mentioned. 

So when we are told about a Leper that came to Jesus in the first chapter of (Mark), who knelt before Him and begged Him by saying. “If you are willing, You can make be clean,” don’t assume that his motives were pure (Mark 1:40).  Neither think that because Jesus had compassion upon him that his faith was of a saving nature (1:41).  No doubt hundreds, if not thousands of people had been healed by this time, and this leper had heard that multitudes were being healed by Jesus, so it is not too far fetched to believe that he had hope in Jesus.  However, the leper’s hope was compromised by his own history of rejection about his uncleanness.  Everyone had rejected this leper previously, he was placed outside the camp and labeled as unclean.  So when he came to Jesus he expressed the same feelings that he had toward everyone else, “If You are willing…”, he said.   The beggar had no problem believing in Jesus’ power to heal him, his problem was unbelief in Jesus’ willingness to do so.  And why?  Because this leper never dealt with the nagging problem of sin that plagued his soul; how do I know?  Because when a person comes to acknowledge their guilt of sin and to such a degree that they know they are worthy of eternal punishment in hell, and if at that same time they look to Jesus for forgiveness and find it, then the question of Jesus’ willingness to help us ceases to exist. 

But because this leper never focused  on the most prominent need of the hour (his sin), Jesus sternly warned him, “"See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest…” (Mark 1:44).  No one would have wanted to go to a Religious leader and say that they had been healed by Him, all would have known the hatred that they had for Jesus.  The very next passage in Mark 2 tells about scribes accusing Jesus of blasphemy, and before Jesus ever arrived they had rejected the baptism of John (Matthew 3:7), and he proclaimed the coming of Jesus.

Jesus made a twofold request on the leper, tell the priests and say nothing to anyone. Had the leper gone to the priests as he was told, and had the priests fulfilled their responsibility according to the law, the leper would have been declared clean, which would have removed his need to say anything to anyone (Leviticus 13 and 14).   The essential element that makes any act  sinful is that the sinner takes matters into his own hands by disobeying God and doing what he wants instead.  The leper in (Mark 1) did not act out of gratitude toward Jesus who saved him from a life long disease; instead, he acted sinfully by doing the very opposite. 

The New Testament writers make it clear that there is a distinction between professing Christ without an inner and abiding relationship and confessing Him as Lord to the transforming of the soul.  This New Testament message is sadly lacking in many churches today, in our country and around the world.  And without a proper and biblical accountability churches are filled with a mixture of believing and nonbelieving “Christians,” which was never meant to be (Matthew 18:154-18).  Why do so many stumble over the poor testimony of “the Church’ in our world today?  Answer, because a large part of the so called church is not the Church at all! 

Christians continue to sin, but true Christians are marked by a decisive desire not to (1 John).  Furthermore, the scripture rightly defines salvation by this verse, “If you shall confess Jesus as Lord, you shall be saved…” (Romans 10:9).  To confess without transformation is to take God’s name in vain.  To be saved is to walk in such a way that Jesus is clearly seen as Lord of your life, unlike a leper who begged for help, but then did the exact opposite of what Jesus told him. 

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