“A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.'” (Mark 1:40)
During a pandemic, such as we are presently in, people are desperate for a cure and vaccines, and we praise the research being done to achieve those results. These take care of our physical disease needs.
But what about the disease of sin? In Jesus’ day most people believed that disease and sin were connected. Leprosy, a horrible disease that was often contagious and caused deformity, was thought to be evidence of some horrible sin. There was no cure, and lepers were declared “unclean” unless somehow they recovered and could be called “clean” again (see Leviticus 13:1-8, 45-46). They were generally banished from the community because of concerns about spreading spiritual impurity and death.
When the man with leprosy in this story came to Jesus asking to be made clean, it wasn’t just a request to be cured. The man wanted his life back. Lepers were thought of as the walking dead, and he was asking, in effect, to be raised from death!
Jesus, seeming to risk being defiled, does the unthinkable in reaching out his hand and touching the man. And then the unthinkable happens. The contagion of sin and death does not spread to Jesus; instead, the cleansing of heaven spreads to the man! This “dead man walking” is brought back to life by the touch and word of Jesus. We expect the corrosive effect of sin and disease to spread, but the healing power of Jesus prevails against it.
Jesus came in power to take away what is killing us and what we are helpless to get rid of. What is it in your life that you are unable to cleanse yourself of? Jesus can make you clean! The Church is here to offer the cure for sin and eternal death. May we put no obstacles in the way of people receiving the gospel vaccine.
Gracious God, cleanse me of my sin and make me whole again. Restore to me the joy of salvation! Thank you for touching me with your healing power. Amen.