From Unclean to Clean

Healing of the Lepers at Capernaum
Healing of the Lepers at Capernaum (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Mark 1:40–45 (ESV)

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 8:2-4; Luke 5:12-16

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus continued to grow in popularity because of his ability to perform signs, a man went to him to be healed of leprosy. The man begged Jesus to heal him, saying, “If you will, you can make me clean.” He had no doubt that Jesus could heal him, but would Jesus do it? We read that Jesus was moved with pity, reached out and touched him, and healed him.

Afterward, Jesus instructed the man to tell no one of what had happened, but to go to the priest to go through what is outlined in Leviticus 14:1-20 for cases of leprosy. The man was so excited about what had taken place, he went out and spoke freely about it. This caused Jesus’ growing fame to become even greater as people rushed out to see him.

Leprosy was a term used for many skin diseases in the Ancient Near East. One who had leprosy was isolated from the community and labeled “unclean.” There were strict laws concerning leprosy, including laws about what happened when one came into contact with a leprous person. If a “clean” person touched a person with leprosy, the clean person also became unclean out of fear of spreading the disease. However, when Jesus touched this man, Jesus did not become unclean. The man with leprosy became clean. This is such an amazing thing to understand. Jesus has the power to make the unclean clean! This is what he does for every sinner who will call on him in faith. He removes the stain of sin from our lives and presents us before the Father as spotless and clean.

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