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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 express enthusiasm?

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 of God.

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