Mark 1 v 40 - 45

This is a beautifully little story of one of those who was healed by Jesus. Mark recognises the importance that the healing miracles of Jesus not only be seen as bringing new life to masses of the sick, but of individual lives being turned around. This concerns the healing of a man with leprosy. There were different forms of leprosy, but they were all horrific, destroying a person's appearance and then their voice, hands and feet, ending in death after around nine years. Someone suffering with this disease was banished from the fellowship of others and wherever they went they had to cry out a warning: ''Unclean!'' They were considered dead people walking.

A couple of things to note especially here... 1. The leper stated...''If you are willing...''. He had faith that Jesus could take away his disease, but it depended on His willingness! It may be that the sufferer with leprosy had felt, after long years of rejection, that no one not even Jesus could view him as a human being and perceive the person he once was. So many people around us have had their personality and appearance wrecked, sometimes through self-abuse, most of the time through life circumstances. They are no longer able to see themselves as fully human, but God still loves them and views them as made in His image. 2. Jesus allowed the leper to approach Him and then He reached out and touched him! Leprosy was considered to be highly infectious and the thought of catching it filled people with fear. Jesus particularly focussed on it and the healing of it: in the Gospel of Matthew 10 v 8, Jesus commissions the Twelve as they journey out at His command: ''Heal the sick, cleanse lepers.'' Leprosy has parallels in terms of the fear it engendered to AIDS sufferers in the 1980's and 90's. You may recall that Princess Diana visited those with AIDS, dying in hospitals, and reached out to hold their hands, causing shock, but also a changed attitude to the victims.

Jesus had time, He had power, He had compassion. We are called to follow in His footsteps...

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