THERE CAME A LEPER
Mark 1:38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. 39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils. 40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. 42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. 43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; 44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.
Jesus Came Preaching
The Holy Spirit has stamped on this chapter the theme of the King and the Kingdom – preaching the gospel! And with that theme comes the issue with this leper. For we read in verses 33 through 37 that there was a great commotion among the peoples of Capernaum after the Lord healed many and cast out many devils. Some would have called it a “Revival!” But as our above passage takes up in verse 38, we read of the Lord’s determination to leave that deep pool of inordinate affection (Col. 3:5), and not return to it, even at his disciples insistence. (See verses 36, 37).
This is the same situation with our leper. Christ would have a witness from him to spread the gospel, but never an emotional “show and tell!” Let us see how this theme reveals itself with him!
Miracles were only for the revealing of God’s approval on the Preacher and his preaching! Peter preaches this both at Pentecost and in Cornelius’ house! Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
Then in the Apostle Paul’s inspired writings we actually have the Spirit’s gifts ranked in order of their value! For in 1Cor. 12:28 we read, And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Notice the Spirit’s rankings. The first, second, and third places are assigned to the preaching and teaching of the gospel! Only after these is the mention of “miracles!” For they are only to be coupled with the gospel to show God’s stamp of approval to His ministers!
This was, of course, during the days of transition between the old and new covenants, until the Scriptures could be completed! For even in that early church age the Apostle Paul was instructing of “a more excellent way!” 1Cor. 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
For even among the continuing graces of the Spirit, love of God in one’s heart is shown to be greater and eternal! 1Cor. 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
So as the Lord refused to go back to Capernaum on the day following all the miracles of healing, he specifically instructs the leper not to go broadcasting his healing, but to go to the priesthood and be “a testimony unto them!” Read John 2:23 through 3:3 and see that those who came to “belief” in Christ on the platform of miracles did not have God “commit himself unto them.”
John 2:25 states that “he knew what was in man.” And the man presented for our example is a ruler of the Jews, who tried to approach the Lord on the basis of his miracles. Notice the “for” in verse two. Out of his own mouth Nicodemus states that his knowledge that the Lord Jesus is a God-sent teacher is based on seen miracles! And what does the Lord reply? “Nicodemus, you haven’t even seen the kingdom yet! You need a birth from above!”
Kneeling for Healing
In verse 40 of our passage we find what seems to be a very humbled soul, truly seeking the Lord! For our leper comes “beseeching and kneeling.” He also ascribes ability to Christ to remove his disease, if he were but willing! – Sounds good, right? But remember that the apostate Judas brought back the bribe and confessed himself guilty of “the innocent blood!”
It is only God granted repentance which attains true soul cleansing! 2Cor. 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. Salvation is never obtained by man’s works! It is always, and only by God’s sovereign grace that a sinner comes to life in Christ! But that salvation is a vivid, working life! It will always reveal itself by the good works of the indwelling Spirit! Eph. 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
Our leper come kneeling for healing, but let me show you one who came kneeling in submission to his tribulations and afflictions! Eph. 3:13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. 14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, Here the Apostle Paul kneels in submission to the ordained trials and afflictions in his life, as they make the glory of the Lord relevant to the church! Therefore, where it be kneeling for healing, or kneeling for submission to God’s appointed afflictions, it must be done by the Holy Spirit within, or it is not acceptable!
He Straitly Charged Him
In verses 43 and 44 listed above, there could be no more pointed, and understandable assignment given to any man! And since the man, as a leper, was, as it were, dead to society, he now owed his newly given life to Christ! 2Cor. 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
And the Lord asked nothing but that which, as we have earlier pointed out, is according to the theme of the Spirit in this whole chapter! He asked for the leper to do as he had done regarding the miracles in Capernaum. He asked him to turn his back on the miracle and to “be a testimony” to the priesthood of Israel! My! What a blessed appointment! He was assigned to give witness to those who had responsibility to teach the people that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah!
He didn’t ask him to do anything that he hadn’t grown up around all his life! The leper had seen temple sacrifices hundreds of times since his childhood! He very well knew of “the law of the leper” in Leviticus 14:2! The Lord didn’t ask him to grow another head! He wasn’t asked to do anything beyond his own ability! But his problem was his willingness! Now his words to the Messiah come back to him! He had said, “Your are able to cleanse me, if only you are willing!” But now we find the shoe on the other foot! For after this simply stated, pointed instruction, the very next word we read is, “But!” (As far as I know, goats are the only one who butt! For sheep always have hearing ears and following feet! John 10:27)
Not only then, did the cleansed leper fail to preach and give testimony, but he actually hinder that work for the Lord! Read verse 45. The cleansed leper became a self appointed evangelist to “blaze abroad” the doctrine of, “Look at me! I’m now able to come among society again!” And by his inordinate desire to place human family above Christ, he shut Christ away from society! Now all that his family had was a self proclaimed preacher, who, like Jonah was going in the wrong direction. And he was proclaiming an excitable account that had ability to deceive many souls. He was keeping the true gospel Preacher away from them while providing them with his deceptions!
He could have had opportunity to do with the priesthood what the Lord did with Nicodemus, as referred to earlier in John 2:23 through 3:3. But he wanted that worldly glory! He wanted the attention. I trust he enjoyed it, for that was all the “reward” he shall ever have! Matt. 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
“Sad, sad, that bitter wail –
‘Almost – but lost’” P. P. Bliss
The Law and The Gospel
Read Romans 2:17-24 with Matthew 23:1-3 and see the effect on the gospel’s proclamation in failing to abide lawfully before the Lord! And remember the fault of this leper: Rom. 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 2Th. 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Pastor Gene Breed