At Calvary Baptist Church, we are studying the Gospel according to Mark. Pastor Kirk just wrapped up chapter one yesterday. At the end of the chapter is an interesting story where Jesus is confronted by a leper. This man begs for healing, stating that he is confident that Jesus could make him clean again. Jesus replies to this man’s plea for healing by saying he was indeed willing to make him clean. And then Jesus touches this diseased man. This is HUGE!
Learning about Love:
Jesus’ interaction with this leper is so key to understanding how God operates. It also is key for us to understand how we, the Church, should operate. What is the stigma about leprosy?
Loving the Unlovely:
Obviously we know that leprosy is a repulsive disease. We don’t need to go into the graphic detail about what happens to the human body when it contracts this disease, but we do know that it is a painful and hideous disease. It is so awful and contagious that lepers were put out of the community as a result. They took on a new identity as “unclean”. To look upon one who suffered with leprosy would cause nausea. As a result people just avoided all contact.
The disease was also virtually incurable. It had no pill or prescription to take the symptoms away. There wasn’t a medical procedure to reverse the effects. It became a disease of no hope. The slow death of leprosy would tear at intimate familial relationships and cause suffering to be spread throughout the family.
When the leper was put outside of the community, he was isolated from all contact. The desire for community would be left wanting and would cause additional anguish to the victim. Where once he worked, played and loved, now leprosy would be his consuming companion.
Isn’t leprosy a great model of sin?
Learning from the Loving Lord:
In the text the Lord is moved with compassion. Can we say that we are “moved with compassion” for those who are unlovely? I am not just speaking of those who are unattractive to our own lifestyles, but am thinking of our companions in the faith who are consumed with sinful desires and actions, as well as, those outside the faith who are given over to their sinful ways. How do you feel about them? Yes, FEEL. Are you moved with compassion towards their plight? We should be.
Compassion motivates Jesus’ action. He moves toward the hurting and touches him. The unimaginable occurs. Jesus touches the unclean. Oh, how this convicts me! In the margin of my Bible I have written:
True love will move you to do what no-one else will
Action motivated by love will move you toward the unlovely, to do what once was unthinkable. Love will motivate you to step into suffering, to reach into the repulsive lifestyles of others, to sit with sinners and console the hurting. Poor, needy, unclean and sinful people need Christians to be reaching out and touching them with the love of Christ.
What does a loving touch do?
It heals a broken heart. It restores the outcast to community. It soothes a suffering soul. It encourages a burdened down believer. It shines brightly the love of Christ to those in sin. It demonstrates the heart of God.
Where can you touch the life of another with the love of Christ? Will you do what no-one else would do?