Home > Scripture Reflections, Spirituality > Jesus, if you are willing, you can . . .

Jesus, if you are willing, you can . . .

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

In this first week of advent, we were challenged yesterday to come to Jesus for healing as we looked at Mark 1:40-45 and the story of Jesus healing the leper.  Pastor Steve Ruetschle of Union Church of Manila led us through the passage, pointing to four ways the leper teaches us to approach Jesus.   As soon as they upload the file, you can listen to the sermon if you are interested.

First, bring our brokenness to Jesus.  “He came to him.” Imagine all the rejection the leper had experienced in his life! Lepers were to be avoided and the religious establishment led the way in rejecting them. As Pastor Steve pointed out, often rejection leads us to have a hardened heart?  Yet this leper came to Jesus!  How did he know that Jesus would show compassion on him.  So, the first thing I need to do is to come to Jesus with my brokenness!

Second, the leper provides us with a model for faith.  “If you are willing.”  Unlike so many of us, the leper does not demand Jesus to heal him.  Instead, he recognizes Jesus as Lord when he asks him if he is willing; he recognizes that Jesus is God, not us.  Maybe this is one reason why does Jesus not always heal?

Third, the leper knew who Jesus was.  “You can.” He recognized the power and energy of Jesus; he knew that healing power available in Jesus and was not afraid to ask. As Pastor Steve said, “Do we really believe this?  Do we believe that Jesus has power and authority to heal today?”

Fourth, the leper came as a worshipper of Jesus.  “He begged him on his knees.” As Pastor Steve said, “We often come to worship because of what it does for us,” as opposed to remembering that it is really all about Jesus.

The second part of the sermon focused on the response of Jesus to the leper.  As Pastor Steve said, the fundamental response of Jesus was one of compassion in verse 41.  It is that wonderful greek word, splagchnizomai.  It is used 12 times in the NT (all in the synoptic), 8 of them describing the emotions Jesus felt that moved him into a healing ministry.  The word was also used to describe how the father of the prodigal son felt when he saw him coming home and to describe how the Samaritan felt toward the wounded traveler by the road.  Two things Jesus did.

First, he touched the man.  Apparently in the context of the time of Jesus, this was an inconceivable act.  Perhaps the aversion that many have to touching an AIDS patient would be somewhat similar although it seems the lepers had it far worse than do AIDS patients today.  Mark is very deliberate here, “Jesus stretches out his hand and touches him.  Another interesting verb here, hapto. Hapto is used of Jesus about 30 of the 37 times it is found in the NT.  Jesus touches those who are unclean right and left, touches lepers several times, touched a woman bleeding, touched eyes, touched a tongue, touched an ear, touched a blind man, touched babies and children, touched a dead man and many touched him since, “All who touched him were healed.” (Mtt 14:36)

As Pastor Steve pointed out, Jesus risked his own health, his own reputation, risked being rejected by all because he would also be considered unclean according to the law.  Of course, he touched the man before he was made clean.  The question for us here is, “Do you believe that Jesus fastens (the word Pastor Steve used to translate the touch of Jesus) himself to you before you are clean?”

Second, Jesus restores social community.  By giving the man a stern warning to present himself to the priest, Jesus was seeking to allow the healing to impact the community.  Suggested passage to read is Levit 14.  As Pastor Steve said, “Our healing affects the lives of others in our community.”

Finally, there is a picture here of the gospel according to Pastor Steve.  Instead of the man roaming around in lonely places, the story ends with Jesus staying outside the camp in lonely places.  Jesus became unclean so the man could become clean.  Jesus takes on his rejection, his lonely places so that the man could be free and in community.  The challenge for all of yesterday, for me and perhaps for some of you reading this, “Will you throw yourself on the compassion of Jesus?” And then, to complete the sentence, “Jesus, if you are willing, you can . . .”

May this encourage us all as we begin Advent!  Thanks Pastor Steve!

  1. Charlie
    December 1, 2009 at 3:11 am

    Thanks Dave (and Pastor Steve). I especially enjoyed the fourth point about worship and your comment. We so easily approach worship with all kinds of ideas of what we intend, hope, and expect to get out of it. May God help us to get right side up on that important issue.

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