February 3, 2005

Mark 1:40-45

Category: Bible - NT - Mark :: Permalink

Mark 1:40-45
(November 14, 2004 Sermon Notes)

Up to this point, Mark has been following a pattern: Jesus’ calling is followed by a battle with Satan. Jesus calls four men and then battles an unclean spirit in the synagogue. Jesus restores Simon’s mother-in-law to service and restores many in Israel and now Jesus confronts an unclean leper. Calling and restoration are followed by cleansing.


On one occasion, a leper came to him asking for cleansing. “Leprosy” in the Bible isn’t what we call “leprosy” today; it wasn’t a contagious disease, and houses and clothing could become “leprous.”

The word for “leprosy” is related to the word for “touch”: It was God’s touch, God’s affliction, God’s chastisement. Having “leprosy” meant that you could no longer live in town and you could not enter God’s special presence (Lev. 13-14). Leprosy is a vivid picture of how we are by nature: cut off from God and from close fellowship with each other.

The leper comes to Jesus and probably finds him in the synagogue. He does what no one else has done: He bows to Jesus. He even acknowledges that Jesus has the authority, not just to heal or cast out demons, but to remove a plague which was imposed directly by God. Jesus can take away what God has imposed.

And Jesus does. “Leprosy” was God’s touch and Jesus touches the man and takes it away. Jesus doesn’t become unclean; rather, the unclean man is cleansed. Now, through Jesus’ touch and word, he can celebrate Passover and gather with God’s people and live in town again.


After cleansing the leper, Jesus scolds the man and casts him out, probably because the man was in the synagogue and in the city where he had no right to be. The man must first go through the rituals prescribed in the Law before he can return to fellowship with God and with His people.

Jesus tells the man not to say anything but to go to the priest. Jesus wants healing to be a witness to (or even against) them. He wants his cleansing of the leper verified by the priests so that everyone will recognize that he can do what Moses’ law couldn’t. Jesus removes God’s curse.


The leper tells everyone what Jesus has done. Is he disobeying? Perhaps. But it’s likely that he first did what Jesus told him to. His proclamation is a legitimate declaration of the good news.

But what’s the effect? Jesus can’t enter a town openly. The former leper can because Jesus has cleansed him, but Jesus must live like a leper, outside the town. Jesus has taken the leper’s place. He is the substitute who removes God’s curse by bearing it in our place.

Posted by John Barach @ 4:10 pm | Discuss (0)

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