Encounters with Jesus (The Leper)
Jason White


Jesus showed compassion towards a leper who encountered him and asked for healing. Others did their best to avoid people with leprosy, but Jesus moved towards him and healed him.

Mark 1:41 Moved with compassion, He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.




Sermon Audio Transcript
ME Several years ago when I was still coaching tennis, we used to run a bunch of summer camps with younger kids. And one day we were playing some games where we split the kids into teams and they were competing against each other. So…all of the kids are playing and having a great time, but I look over and there is this one little 6 year old girl who is sitting up against the fence all by herself…And so I walk over to her and said, “Hey sweetie, what’s wrong…are you ok?” And she looked up at me, and you could tell she had obviously been crying…and she said, “Coach, I’m not very good at this and no one really wants me on their team so I just want to go home.”Ohhh man, my heart just broke…it was so hard to see her sitting alone and crying and feeling rejected and isolated and alone.TRANSITION: It’s hard to be on the outside looking in. It’s heartbreaking to feel like you don’t fit in…like you don’t belong, like there is something wrong with you…WE And we all know what that’s like…we’ve all been there before…For some of us it might have even been the exact same kind of thing where we remember being picked last when teams were being pickedOr maybe it was in middle school or high school when clicks started to develop and you looked up one day and realized that you weren’t in the “in crowd,” …that you were on the outside looking in.I mean that can be so difficult…we all want to be in on what’s going on, we all want to belong and to be accepted…to be included, but that’s just not always the case. As a matter of fact, many of us have found out that this kind of thing doesn’t go away once you become an adult…you don’t necessarily grow out of this…We found out that there are circles in our jobs, in our neighborhoods, and circles that develop even inside our own families…and it’s nice to be on the inside of the circle, but it can be really difficult if you find yourself on the outside looking in…it can be lonely and discouraging and even feel hopeless sometimes…TRANSITION: Today, as we continue our Encounter message series, we are going to see someone who is on the outside looking in have an encounter with Jesus…and what happens in this encounter says so much to us today! Look at what is says beginning in Mark 1:40GOD - 40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” So here is our character who knew what it was like to be on the outside looking in…because really, being on the outside was literally where anyone who had leprosy in this day and age spent their lives. I mean, leprosy in and of itself is a terrible disease that someone had to live with…it was a skin disease that causes severe disfiguring skin sores but it also causes nerve damage too. And so it was a painful and terrible disease to have in and of itself, but perhaps the worst part about it was that you were kicked outside of the city/community you lived in. Lev. 13 is where we see this…45 “Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp. I mean, can you imagine this. Picture yourself coming down with leprosy. You have to move away from your family…you have to give up your occupation…you have to give up your friends, your habits…everything. You have to pack up and move outside of the camp where there is no protection, it’s like being sentenced to solitary confinement. And if that alone isn’t bad enough, you had to make your appearance as repugnant as possible to scare people off from coming to close to you, and if you did get near people you had to cry out “unclean, unclean!” In other words, “Get away from me! Don’t come near me! Stay away!”Can you imagine what that is like? To give up family, friends, everything… to never be touched. I mean think about that…one of the things we probably take for granted is human touch…high fives, handshakes, pats on the back, hugs, kisses…There is so much warmth and feelings of belonging in human touch, but with leprosy you don’t ever get to experience this anymore. It is a lonely and miserable disease to have.And so this guy who is in this situation…in pain…in misery…lonely and in isolation…has an encounter with Jesus and says, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” And there’s SO much in this statement. He acknowledges confidence in Jesus’ ability to heal him, but he ALSO is acknowledging that there might be divine purpose in him NOT being healed. He says, “If you are willing,” in other words, “if it is your will”…And we need to take notice of this. There are a lot of places and people who will tell you that you are sick or hurting or going through something difficult because of something you’ve done or because you don’t have enough faith in God and that’s why you haven’t been healed yet. And what they are saying is that “healing is what is always best for you and what God wants to do in your life and so since this is true, if you aren’t being healed then that is something on you.” And this is simply not true. God can heal us and sometimes he chooses to, but other times He doesn’t. And that is up to Him. Either way He is still a good God and He always has what’s best for you and me in mind. My point is, it’s always good to ask Jesus to heal us, and we should…And we should believe that He can heal us…But we should also leave it in His hands as God to decide what is best for us in that moment. Well, let’s see how Jesus responds…41 Jesus was indignant.What? Jesus was angry at this man asking to be healed? Well, probably not. So a couple of things here. First, your translation may say something like, “filled with compassion,” instead of indignant. And here is the reason for that. A few of the manuscripts we have, have the word indignant and others have the word compassion. And translators do an incredible amount of work known as textual criticism in these cases to figure out which one was most likely the original word that was used. The majority have decided it is compassion…for example…41 Moved with compassion, (NASB)41 Moved with compassion, (CSB)41 Moved with compassion, (NLT)41 Moved with pity, (ESV)So here’s the deal, I’m not exactly sure why the NIV chose “indignant” here, but compassion certainly makes sense, especially with what we are going to see happen next…But if indignant was what Jesus was actually feeling in the moment it certainly wasn’t anger AT the leper b/c again of what we will see happen in just a moment. If it was anger then it was most likely a righteous anger at the ravages of sin and disease. Either way, watch what Jesus does next…He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. So Jesus performs a supernatural miracle here. He was healed in an instant. At one moment this man has sores all over his body and has no feeling due to the nerve damage done and in the next moment, there were no sores and his feeling was back. Leprosy was not too big of a match for the Son of God. And so again, one thing to point out is that Jesus is capable of healing you and sometimes chooses to heal…so ask and have faith that He can, but again leave the results to him. BUT HERE IS WHAT I REALLY WANT YOU TO TAKE NOTICE OF HERE: I mean as big of a deal and as spectacular as it is to read about someone being miraculously healed, notice the order in which Jesus did what he did. Look at what he did before he healed him…He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. BEFORE Jesus healed him, he reached out and touched this man with leprosy. I mean come on, Jesus could have done it the other way…as a matter of fact, that’s probably what I would have done. As nasty and gross and infectious this disease is, if I had the ability to heal him, I would have done that first…gotten all of the nasty sores and contagious stuff off of him and THEN touched the man right? I mean, I’m just sayin…But this isn’t what Jesus does. He reached out towards the man…• this man who had had to move outside of the camp…• this man who, for who knows how long had been yelling “unclean, unclean…stay away from me” in order to help make sure people keep their distance. • This man who was forced to make his appearance as repugnant as possible to scare people from coming to close…• and for who knows how long this had been his experience. I mean this guy was used to having people move the other direction…But JESUS MOVED TOWARDS THE MAN…look again at what Mark says… He reached out his hand and touched the man.He touched his sores, touched his scars, touched his unclean skin. And I imagine (can’t prove) that Jesus didn’t just reach out & like barely w/one finger touch the man …like still keeping his distance but saying, “I just gotta get one tip of a finger on him to heal him. I mean there were times in Scripture that Jesus healed people without touching them at all. So Jesus didn’t have to touch him at all to heal him. So what was he doing? He was showing him compassion…he was showing him love…I picture Jesus reaching out and grabbing both of the mans cheeks and pulling him in close and looking him in the eyes with sincerity and compassion and love, and then pulling him in close for a hug and with one hand behind his back and the other behind his head, pulling him in close so that Jesus could press the side of his face up against the side of his face and just allow this man to experience the warm embrace of someone else…I picture tears filling up in this man’s eyes as he felt human touch for the first time in who knows how long…and as he felt what it was like to not be on the outside of the circle in this moment but on the inside. What a moment!And notice what this says to you and I as well. Jesus is not afraid to enter into whatever situation or circumstance you are in. No matter how far you’ve gone in some kind of sin and the place you’ve ended up, Jesus reach TOWARDS YOU not away from you…No matter how bad your illness or sickness is, Jesus will enter into it with you and reach TOWARDS YOU. Even if He doesn’t choose to heal you, He will walk through it with you, embracing you and holding you, and carrying you through this time. This is who Jesus is. I hope you are encouraged by this…V43…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.”So first of all Jesus tells the man to not tell anyone. Why? Most believe it was b/c Jesus didn’t want to just be seen as a faith healer. He was more than that, He had come to teach people about the Kingdom of God and if word got out about healing, he would be flooded by people asking for healing and not have as much of an opportunity to teach/preach. But Jesus also tells him to go fulfill what Moses had commanded he and anyone who was cleansed from leprosy had to do. This is a reminder that in Jesus’ earthly ministry, he was ministering to the Israelite people who were still under the Old Covenant Law. Scripture shows us in several places that the New Covenant that Jesus came to initiate started at the death of Jesus. And after the death of Jesus and what He accomplished there, it allows us to enter into a New Covenant with Jesus where we are not under O.T. Law any longer, but for now, these people were still living under that law. And so Jesus tells him to go do what the law required of him in this moment…and for 2 reasons. #1, it would be how this man was able to move from outside the camp to inside the camp. The priest would examine him and see his leprosy was gone and after going through all of the process he would be able to move back in with his family and into the camp. But #2, Jesus wanted to show the leaders of his day the testimony of who He really was. The priests could not heal people of Israel, they just pronounced them unclean or clean. But Jesus had healed this guy, and he wanted them to see who He was as a testimony that He was indeed the Son of God. Let’s see what the man does…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. So obviously, the leper ignored Jesus and went out & talked about it anyway, and we are told that his choice did impact Jesus to where he had to stay “outside,” Mark says “in lonely places.” Notice how basically this leper and Jesus have now switched places from where they were at the beginning of this passage. At the beginning, the leper was the one outside the camp in the lonely places, but after Jesus’ encounter with him and Jesus’ willingness to enter into his life with Him and heal him, now this man is on the inside and Jesus has moved to the outside…Again, I think this says SO much about Jesus and His sacrificial love for us as His creation. As the song says, “OH HOW HE LOVES US SO” But I love how Mark points out that Jesus being moved “outside to lonely places” did not affect God’s ability to keep His plan of bringing the Kingdom of God to the people & to us today. Mark says, “Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.” Jesus may not have been able to go enter a town openly, so God just brought people to him.So listen, I want you to hear this…if you’ve ever disobeyed God at some point in your life, you didn’t thwart God’s plan…You didn’t stop Him from being God & from moving things forward in a way to bring redemption/reconciliation into this world….Sure, we always want to trust that God’s direction in our lives is always what is best for us, & we need to know that there are certainly consequences in this world for stepping into sin, but know today that if you’ve messed up that God is still God and He is still moving on…And so maybe you need to move on too & enter into the life that He has given you & blessed you w/an opportunity to be a part of w/Him.YOU - Okay so we are already getting into application here, and we’ve honestly already mentioned several things along the way, but let me just remind you as we close how this encounter applies to us today:(#1)…Ask for healing if you need it…have faith that Jesus is fully capable of healing you…BUT leave it in His hands. (Donna Calaway?)(#2)…If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, you have moved from outside the camp to inside the camp. You may feel in this world like you are on the outside looking in when it comes to social circles, work circles, family circles, whatever, but know that if you are in Christ, you are always in the circle w/Him and w/a Church Family.And btw, that should remind us as a church family to be aware of Satan’s work to divide in the church. If we see pockets of circles here in the same way we see them out in the world, then we need to break down those walls in the name of Jesus and experience the unity of being on the inside of this family. No one should ever feel like they are on the outside of this church family.(#3)…Let’s trust God when He moves in our lives by asking us to participate w/Him in something by saying yes to whatever it is. The leper did not do that…we want to be a people who say yes to participating in God’s divine work in us/through us. But also, I hope that you are taking away as an application that if you mess up and disobey at some point that God is till God, He is still sitting on his throne, and you are forgiven b/c of Christ’s once for all sacrifice on the cross…so keep walking with Him and stay in step with Him instead of putting yourself in timeout and feeling like you are now out of His circle.