The Holy Gospel according to Mark 1:40-45
A leper came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling he said to him, "If you choose, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I do choose. Be
made clean!" Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter. This is the Gospel of the Lord
Go your way, my Grace is sufficient for you
Hearing the statement presented by the Leper presents us with an alternate possible outcome of this Gospel passage . . . Suppose Jesus had Not Chosen to cleanse the Leper of his leprosy?? Suppose Jesus had said to the leper, “Since you have given me a choice to heal you
or not . . . I am going to choose not to heal you today.”
Boy, that would be disappointing. That does not sound like our Lord at all! Perhaps the more difficult question is, ‘Disappointing to who?’ After all, we ought to consider that the Leper placed himself in a vulnerable position by allowing Jesus a choice. “No” could have been a valid
answer for Jesus to give. It would not have denied his stated ability to perform the holistic miracle of healing -- along with all of the obvious social implications of deliverance. In fact, as we know from the story of the Apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh,” there are certain areas
or aspects of our lives, physically, emotional and otherwise, that God, in his infinite Wisdom does not choose to deliver us from or otherwise change that thing in our life that debilitates us.
And so, it is not an unworthy exercise in considering for a moment what would have happened to the Leper if Jesus had simply said, “Go your way, my Grace is sufficient for you” as he did for the Apostle Paul.
If Jesus did this for the Leper, our first thoughts would likely be, “Golly-gee, Jesus was not kind at all to this man.” Or, “Couldn’t Jesus have done something for him?” Or, who could blame this man if he had gotten up, shaken the dust off of his feet and cursed God as being
unmerciful and callous? But let us consider for a moment more (and I know that I am, once again–out here on a tangent of speculation), but consider Paul’s life once again. The famous Paul who had endured so much for the cause of Christ.
Remember that Paul suffered many physical and verbal abuses (see 2 Corinthians 11:23+). He was stoned, beaten, ship wrecked, falsely accused, ridiculed and even left for dead. And Christ said to him about the one ailment that he suffered, “the thorn in the flesh” (see 2 Cor. 12:7b-9)
whether physical, moral or otherwise (we do not know) that “My Grace is Sufficient for You . . . .” Essentially, Paul was able to live on with whatever imperfection was present in his life at that time and it was the words of Christ that sustained him day by day!
In fact, this is one of our strongest Lutheran premises. We are never worthy of God’s redemptive action on our behalf. God does not reward us with healing as any kind of a reward or favor based upon our individual merit. Paul, who justifiably did more to promote the cause of the Gospel
than any other single person in his day -- was, by all accounts, most worthy of a favor to be granted by Christ.
Yet, in God’s infinite wisdom . . . whatever it was that ailed him, whatever was the meaning of the “thorn” in Paul’s flesh . . . perhaps it was akin to leprosy, or maybe it was a moral flaw, or a temptation that Paul could not resist or overcome by mere will power-–though he claims
moral supremacy in all areas of his life according to Jewish law. Nevertheless, Christ tells Paul (and us!!) that his power is made perfect through our weakness. The more we sin, the more Christ’s grace is outpoured on our behalf. Not that Christ is crucified again and again for our
sins, but that what was accomplished to redeem us from sin shines all the more brilliantly when we are revealed to be more needy . . .
Luther spoke of the Law driving us to the Gospel. The more we realize our inability to uphold the Law with all of its precepts and commands, the more we recognize our need for Christ.
But the fact remains--Christ who had all of the POWER at his right hand, chose not to heal Paul, and Paul remained faithful to Christ’s service -- even with his “thorn in the flesh” and the high calling of God was continually on his life.
So we ought also to approach Christ as this Leper did early on in Jesus’ ministry. We ought to approach Christ with that same level of honesty and humility. Notice that he sought Jesus out, and when he had found him, (and this is instructional) he fell upon his kneels before Jesus.
“Lord Jesus, I know that you have the POWER TO HEAL ME, and If You Are Willing . . . It will be So!” Perhaps the more difficult added words, which come from Jesus himself are: “Nevertheless, not what I would will dear Lord, but what Thou would Will for me and my life.”
Here is the moment of Faith. We come to Christ believing. We Come to Christ with a certain measure of Faith. We submit our lives to him with a humble spirit. It is not that we are fatalistic as though we would just assume He snuff us out . . . Christ is too kind and understanding for
such thoughts, but we come with a humble spirit and a trust. “If you are willing
. . . I know that you have the POWER (the Dynamite of your ability), I believe–I Know! that You can heal me!! I KNOW that YOU CAN DELIVER ME FROM WHATEVER IS TROUBLING ME.
And RIGHT HERE is the Moment of FAITH. Waiting on Christ for a
response . . .
Let us pray:
Lord we entrust ourselves to your mercy. Upon your body your bore the marks of torture, you endured the suffering and shame of the cross. We acknowledge that you gave yourself for us. You died on our behalf. And so please deliver us from the sickness of soul, body, mind or heart that
we suffer. Make us to be reassured that your Grace is perfected in our weakness.
more writings of Pastor Jon