December 1, 2011
The Compassion of Jesus
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In the Old Testament, leprosy separated a person from the entire congregation of Israel. In Leviticus, chapters 13 and 14, we read about the diagnosis of leprosy by the priest, and also the exclusion of the person with leprosy from the congregation. Furthermore, the garments and the home of the leper may also require action by the priest to destroy the item or cleanse it. A leper may only return to the congregation if the leprosy has left him. He is subject to inspection by the priest, and then after a period of time, if he remains free from leprosy, then he may offer prescribed sacrifices and return to the congregation. Until the leper has been inspected and found clean, he must remain outside the camp, and warn others that he is unclean, and everyone should stay away from him. The leper must wear torn clothes, keep the hair of his head uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, “Unclean, unclean!” (Leviticus 13:45). No one could approach him, or he would be unclean also. In our passage today, we will see Jesus heal the leper, because He loved the unclean man.
A Leper Came to Jesus. In Mark 1:40, the unclean leper, removed from the congregation of Israel, approached Jesus. We have already seen many sick and demon-possessed people come to Jesus, and now we see a leper. In some sense, we are all lepers before Christ. Our sin has made us unholy before God, and only God can help us remove our sin. Jesus died on the cross in my place, for my sin. A Jewish friend of mine was talking with me recently about whether the Jews killed Jesus. I read him some passages from the Bible concerning the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, but I also explained that I was personally responsible for the death of Jesus. I caused Jesus to die on the cross, because He died for may sins. I was the spiritual leper who required the cleansing blood of Jesus to remove my sins.
Falling on His Knees. We also see the details of the narrative that portray the leper kneeling and beseeching (Mark 1:40). This leper humbled himself before Jesus, by kneeling before Him. When we ask Jesus for help, humility will always be a great attitude. Like the old saying, we never stand taller than when we kneel before Jesus. In this case, the leper was beseeching (“παρακαλῶν“) Jesus. He earnestly sought help from Jesus.
You Can Make Me Clean. The leper had evidently heard of the fame of Jesus, and perhaps had seen the power of Jesus firsthand. The leper knew that Jesus had the power to heal him of his leprosy. Today, I often see people who do not believe that Jesus has the power to do anything, much less heal someone. This leper knew about the power of Jesus. Notice too that the leper began his request with “if you are willing” (Mark 1:40). Jesus came to bring healing to people, and He was willing to help the leper. If you want a better day today, then make sure you believe that Jesus can help you with every problem you face today. Perhaps some time on your knees today will help bring your problems into better focus, as you tell Jesus all about them and ask for His help, believing that He will help you.
Moved with Compassion. As you approach your day today, do you count upon the compassion of Jesus Christ? Do you pray for Him to exercise His compassion upon people you love today? Our God not only loves us, but He loves to demonstrate His compassion upon people rejected and distanced by everyone around them. In this case, Jesus responded to the leper’s pleading for cleansing (Mark 1:41).
Jesus Touched Him. Notice the distance here. The leper was close enough that Jesus could reach out and touch him. Remember that lepers were to stay away from other people. In this case, this leper came right up to Jesus and knelt before Him, seeking His help. I see here another picture of how Jesus wants us to be with Him. He always wants us to be close to Him, so close He can reach out and touch us. Do you feel like you are praying up close and personal, or do you perceive a great distance between you and God? With Jesus, up close, within arms length, allows you to feel His power and experience His compassionate touch (Mark 1:41).
Be Cleansed. In Mark 1:41, we read about the willingness of Jesus. Jesus did not look at the leper and say something like sin has caused this problem, and you will die in your sins with leprosy. Rather than pass judgment upon the leper right then, He merely said “I am willing.” Jesus felt compassion, and healed the man. By nature, God loves people, with a supernatural love that sent Jesus to the cross to die for each of us, being sinners and unclean before Him. With the leper, we see the heart of Jesus matched up with the power over leprosy. This man would know the power of God and the compassionate love of Jesus just for him. While Jesus may have performed many miracles that day, the leper knew about the personal love of Jesus Christ for him.
He Was Cleansed. Jesus has demonstrated His power over demons, illness and all people. Jesus cleansed the leper “immediately” (Mark 1:42). Jesus merely spoke the words, and the leprosy left. We should always count upon the words of Jesus to bring power and healing into our lives. We should live with the assurance of the compassion of Jesus in our lives, every day.
So we learn more about the compassion of Jesus today.
● Jesus loved lepers, event though they were required to stay away from people, and cry out “Unclean! Unclean!”
● Jesus had compassion upon the leper, because God is love.
● Jesus healed the leper and demonstrated His absolute power over all disease.
Application for Today
As I walk through life today, I want to spend some time kneeling before Jesus and asking for His compassionate help with my day and my life. I want to embody His compassion for people, especially people that everyone else does not want to be around or associate with. Jesus loves lepers of all kinds. Will you share the compassion of Jesus with outcasts today?