Mark 1:40 & 41
40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
41 Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
I thought it very interesting that the man didn’t ask Jesus to touch him. He knew within himself that Jesus had the power to make him better but seems too accustomed to quarantine to even dream of being touched. Having made the journey to where Jesus was – needless to say it must have been hard especially for a leper – he throws himself at Jesus’ feet and yields both his request as well as his expectations to Jesus’ will. In his ‘if you are willing…” he acknowledges Jesus’ power and authority while at the same time reaching for His heart. With his words he touches the King.
I cannot imagine what would have been going through this mans mind at this point. Drawn to Jesus by the promise of wholeness he yields, kneels and awaits the outcome. It is a place of despair suspended by hope. A place where the pain of rejection, separation, and loneliness collide. Untouched, he hasn’t felt human, connected, loved, whole. And there was the off chance that Jesus wasn’t willing!
‘Jesus was indignant’. The dictionary defines that as angered at something unjust or wrong. What was unjust? Was it the man’s illness? I think not. I suggest that it was the man’s brokenness; his request not only spoke of Jesus’ capacity to heal him but also of the possibility of Jesus being unwilling. It was this thought of LOVE in contradiction; seeing pain and choosing not to intervene that I suggest angered Jesus. The injustice was found in the mitigating of the man’s faith: a statement of distrust in God. It is an injustice to people that they struggle to trust God.
Jesus then reaches out and touches him before speaking: first healing his humanity. This speaks of God who is brim-full of love; unafraid to reach to the lowly, touch the unclean. In touching him, Jesus releases the man from his own quarantine. Touch reopens human contact.
Jesus then declares his willingness and heals the man’s flesh. Wholeness, the disease that Jesus carried, spread to the Leper.
- Maybe you feel untouched? Does it sometimes feel like you are not worthy of love, of company, of contact?
- Maybe you feel alone? Is it as though the nearest heart is a million miles way, and if you shouted for help no one would hear or respond?
- Maybe you feel invalidated? Ever worry that you are not enough, and everyone else is a better option? Ever feel like a shadow in a packed room, constantly overlooked?
- Do you feel rejected? Is the pain of hope tarnished, love withheld or undervalued is hard to bare?
On the approaching cross, a willing Jesus makes wholeness a Faith Borne contagion. Accessible to all who seek it (Splitting the sin, and the guilt of sin that stopped man trusting God, in two.)
In dying He tastes Mortality (suffering, loneliness, and death). His final cry is one of an abandoned son. “Why have you Forsaken me?” He asks His Father.
His persevearance showed us His Character, and his character gives us hope. Because Love suffered more than any of us could, we can be assured of His compassion for our suffering.
I am certain of this.
There is no better companion than the one who can sit in your heart, undeterred by your brokenness, proud of your honesty, and capable of standing beside you in the midst of the storm.
There is no better friend than the one who “is willing” to forfeit his life, and share His resurrection, inheritance and Glory with you.
There is no better Father than the one who not only cleans your wounds but heals them.
“who when his son asks him for bread will give him a stone?” He asks.
“I am willing” He says.