Chapter 5

Leprosy!
Mark 1:40-45 (NIV)

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40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. 43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

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Mark 1:40-41
Love for the leper

A man suffering with leprosy was a complete outcast. He was separated from family, rejected by society, and barred from worshipping with other Jews. He was physically unacceptable and ceremonially unclean. He couldn’t even visit the Temple. He had to shout ‘Unclean’ to avoid unintentional contact with others. Often leprosy pictures sin in the Bible. Sin does spiritually and eternally what leprosy did physically and socially. Sin’s uncleanness defiles us, separates us from God, and excludes us from Heaven. People suffering with leprosy were excluded from civilisation: the Bible teaches unforgiven sinners are excluded from Heaven. Detailed Old Testament tests, run by the priests, determined if a leper was healed and cleansed.[1] Our Great High Priest is the Lord Jesus Christ.[2] Through His blood, shed on the cross, which cleanses us from all sin,[3] we are freed from sin’s leprosy when we turn our backs on our sins and put our trust in Christ alone.

How fitting that we see here Christ’s great compassion for this poor man. He loves the unlovely, touches the untouchable, cleanses the impure, and cures the incurable! Jesus acts with this compassion over our leprosy of sin if we come to Him believing solely in His death on the cross in our place and in His resurrection life to save us.

Mark 1: 40-45
Lessons from the leper

We can learn so much from this sufferer of leprosy. Ignoring social and political incorrectness, he comes to Jesus! Neither his unclean state nor others’ opinions prevent him. He recognises that only Jesus can and will meet his need. Still today Jesus alone can forgive sins, cleanse hearts, and be the way to God the Father![4] This leper is serious and earnest, not just religiously superficial. On his knees, he begs Jesus to cleanse him. If you are willing, You can make me clean. The response to his earnest plea from the Saviour will be the same for you, if you come to Him for cleansing from sin, mercy, pardon and restoration.

First, Jesus always forgives and cleanses anyone who comes to Him. Second, His cleansing and cure for sin is immediate. Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. Third, He demands that those asking for mercy should then obey Him as Lord. He warns the leper to obey the Old Testament law and show himself to the priest to verify, record and certify his cleansing. Knowing Christ as Saviour always involves obediently following Him as Lord.[5]

But this man forgets, ignores or disobeys Christ’s command to tell no-one what has happened, but to go first to the priest. Instead, he tells everyone what Jesus has done for him. His enthusiasm is understandable, but this does not excuse his disobedience.

Perhaps the examining priest himself needed to know how Jesus could accept sinners? The leper’s broadcasting of his healing restricts Jesus’ freedom to move because of the seeking crowds. His work is frustrated. The ex-leper remains cured, however! God does not reject disobedient Christians, despite their disobedience!

We also need to catch the leper’s enthusiastic love for Christ, and yet obediently follow the only One who can cleanse us from our sins.[6]

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[1] . See Leviticus 14:1-20, for example.
[2] . Hebrews 4:14.
[3] . 1 John 1:7 (NKJV) – the NIV translates this purifies us from all sin.
[4] . John 14:6, Acts 4:12.
[5] . Romans 14:9.
[6] . John 14:15, John 15:10.

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Questions on Chapter 5
Mark 1:40-45 Leprosy!

A. How do you imagine the man with leprosy feels about himself? Mark 1:40

B. How does Jesus regard him? Mark 1:41

C. As the disease of leprosy can picture how sin harms people spiritually, how can Jesus’ delivering this man from leprosy picture how He delivers sinners who trust Him? Mark 1:42 1 John 1:8-9 Psalm 51:7-10