Mark 1:29-45 29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
As Jesus began His public ministry and demonstrated His authority as the Son of God and the Christ who came to save mankind from sin, He quickly drew the attention of all the people in Galilee in the northern part of Israel. Crowds very quickly were forming wherever He went. But what was their motivation in following Jesus? In seasons of revival and spiritual awakening all kinds of people who had no interest in God before all of a sudden begin to attend churches and show interest in the things of God. But do they all remain? As many churches in our day are not able to attract a large crowd there would be great excitement if this happened in our day. But crowds do not necessarily mean converts and Jesus knew this better than anyone. The crowds that so quickly followed Jesus at the beginning of His ministry would abandon Him at the end. The purpose of the great signs that Jesus performed in healing the sick and casting out demons was to authenticate the Word of God that He spoke, proving that He is God in the flesh and confirming the words that would be recorded in the New Testament that we have today.
Simon Peter and the disciples didn’t understand this and got caught up in the excitement at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry especially with the signs and wonders that Jesus performed. Jesus’ ministry began very differently from John the Baptist who performed no miracles. It would have been very natural for Simon Peter and the disciples who had previously followed John the Baptist to get caught up in this for this was something new and exciting from what they had seen before. When Jesus disappeared from Capernaum to a desolate place, Simon Peter couldn’t understand why Jesus was in hiding. After all, everyone was looking for Him. Why would the Christ not be reveling in this attention from man? Because the attention of God the Father was far more important. Jesus’ goal was to preach the Word of God in all these places- not just to perform signs and wonders. He didn’t come to perform healings that would be temporary. Those who were healed would still taste physical death in their future. Jesus came to proclaim the Good News of what He was about to do upon the cross. He came to perform eternal healing of the root problem of sin in the soul of man.
We then read the account of Jesus healing a man from leprosy- a terrible disease. A leper was required to live outside the camp and cry out “unclean, unclean” when any other person was near them. Imagine if someone today with corona virus was required to say this? The corona virus is very contagious while leprosy is not. But the disease of leprosy was a picture of sin for the people. Leprosy was "the outward and visible sign of the inner spiritual corruption; a picture of its small beginnings, its gradual spread, its internal disfigurement, its destruction little by little of the whole body, of that which corrupts, degrades, and defiles man's inner nature, and makes him unfit to enter the presence of a pure and holy God" (Maclear's Handbook O.T).
Jesus shows this man compassion, touching him and making him clean. But it is what Jesus says next that is so fascinating. He sternly charges him in verse 43 to not tell anyone but to show himself to the priest and to offer a sacrifice as commanded by Moses. Jesus spoke to him in a stern voice. It was very important for the man to obey what Jesus said. Leviticus 14:1-32 describes the laws for cleansing leprosy. But, even though this man was a Jew, he had no regard for the Word of God in carrying out what was commanded in the Law of God as emphasized by Jesus or in not telling others of what Jesus had done. Rather he ended up preventing Jesus from being able to share the Word of God in the towns because the crowds were now too great as the healed leper spread the news about what Jesus had done for him.
On the surface it seemed as the healed leper had done the right thing in telling everyone about what Jesus had done. But did this man understand that his leprosy was a picture of his sin? Did he see that the man who healed him of his leprosy could also heal him of his sin? Did he see any need for this? Did he understand why he was supposed to show himself to the priest and to offer a sacrifice as commanded by Moses? He had been healed but his sin nature remained. He had been touched by Jesus and was made clean but his soul was still stained by sin. The cross of Jesus Christ was still a mystery to him.
What a contrast with the healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of her fever. When she was healed she immediately began to serve Jesus in humility. But for so many who were healed by Jesus they had no genuine regard for the Word of God. Rather than a desire to serve Jesus and to obey the Word of God they only wanted this miracle worker to serve them- to remove what was troubling them. Is this your desire for the things of God in the midst of this pandemic or are you seeking Jesus Christ for the right reasons? Has Jesus cleansed your soul? Have you been thoroughly made clean by His finished work upon the cross or are you as this leper?
Pastor Murray Hack