On your Mark
Keep your enthusiasm in check!
Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “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.” 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. (Mark 1:43-45, NIV)
A man full of leprosy came to Jesus, begging Jesus for
compassion. Jesus did more than speak healing to him. He touched the man and in
so doing Jesus rendered himself unclean under the law of Moses.
The law of the leper (Leviticus 13 and 14) taught that the
unclean contaminated the clean. But, Jesus brought a new way. He decontaminated
the contaminated by healing them.
The leper was beside himself with joy. Understandably so!
Then, Jesus gave him a seemingly totally illogical command,
“Don’t tell anyone!” Evidently the healing took place without a crowd milling
around. Had more people known, they would have quickly spread the word. No,
this was a private encounter between the leper and Jesus.
How could Jesus expect the leper to restrain himself from
telling such good news? Shouldn’t the Lord have permitted him to immediately
Jesus knew ahead of time the result of the man’s obedience
or disobedience. Jesus always knows more about the future than we do, and
that’s why it’s important for us to obey Him even when we don’t feel like it,
or when our emotions or thinking disagrees with Him!
Look at the consequences of the healed leper’s disobedience.
First, he broke the Old Testament law that provided for a
time period of cleansing and restoration to society. In so doing, he
jeopardized his return to normalcy because he had not been properly certified
as clean by the priest. He violated God’s Word through his enthusiasm.
Second, he missed the opportunity for the priesthood to
validate the healing Jesus performed. The official validation of the priestly
system on the healing work of Jesus would have been a genuine headache to those
who later sought to destroy the Lord.
Third, Jesus was forced to change His itinerary. It took
eight days to validate the cleanness of a former leper (Leviticus 14:10). Those
extra eight days would have provided freedom of movement for Jesus within towns
and villages. Instead, Jesus had to avoid going into population centers.
Fourth, others were inconvenienced. If the man had obeyed,
there would have been no need for the multitudes to trek out to lonely places
where Jesus taught and healed. Jesus would have ministered in their hometowns.
The healed leper did not take the Lord seriously. The Lord
asked him to do something counter to his feelings. His emotions took over from
his volition. The disease of leprosy had not resisted the Lord’s command of “Be
clean!” But, the man himself resisted the Lord’s orders, “Do not tell.”
If the Lord asks you to do something that doesn’t seem to
make sense, do it anyway! He always has the better idea!
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies
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