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Jesus is Unclean


I’ve heard a lot of discussion about Mark 1:40-45. That’s the one where Jesus heals a leper by touching him. Remember the whole “If you are willing…” “I am willing”… talk. After Jesus heals the leper he says not to tell anyone, but go and do what the law says (Which is pretty absurd if you read the law). So this is what I’ve heard about that scripture, why Jesus told him not to tell anyone, a new idea, and what the implications are.

I’ve been told that Jesus wants everyone to come to their own faith, and thusly told the leper not to tell people so they would be able to believe Jesus was God based on their own experiences and not the testimony of others. I don’t like that idea, because the ministry of Jesus and his disciples is deeply rooted in testimony. I mean, the samaritan woman at the well told and entire town about Jesus and he was pretty happy with that. Moreover he sent out the seventy-two, and he gave the “Great commission” to go tell everyone about who he is.

I’ve also been told it was so he could enter the towns and minister personally, almost like a ninja, moving unnoticed rather than being surrounded by crowds like Miley Cyrus in a middle school. That’s an alright idea, I can dig it.

But! What I’ve learned recently is from Leviticus 5:2 that says “If they touch anything that is ceremonially unclean… they will be unclean and guilty”. If you know your Leviticus 13 and 14 then you know that a person with a skin disease like leprosy cannot touch anyone, can’t go into a town, and it’s even their legal obligation to keep people away from them. Jesus went up to the leper in Mark and touched him. By the law he was ceremonially unclean. Mark 1 in the NetBible, and translations without interpretation are similar, says “But as the man went out he began to announce it publicly and spread the story widely, so that Jesus was no longer able to enter any town openly but stayed outside in remote places”. Perhaps Jesus being now unclean was not able to enter towns, by law. I like that understanding much better.

But what does this imply? Well, obviously Jesus wasn’t inflicted with leprosy. He in fact made the unclean clean. This is an allegory for Jesus relationship to both sin and to the law. Where the law impresses uncleanliness, Jesus impresses cleanliness. Where the law condemns Jesus reconciles. In the law we are convicted, in Jesus we are pardoned. With a place or person inflicted with sin, nearness to it is to be near to sin. For Jesus to be near sinful people and places, they are made righteous. His light goes with him into otherwise dark places. The implications are immense. Through Jesus’ relationship to sin and the law he abolished the law, and pardoned sin, even to those unworthy (everyone; Romans 5:8).

So what does this mean for the believer, and for the nonbeliever? For the believer, it means we do not have to avoid dark places. It means we don’t have to shun evil places, but we can go to them and bring the light of Jesus to those dark places. To unclean places and people, if we take Christ with us, He can make them clean. But, if we don’t take Christ there, they will remain dark and unclean. Each person must decide for his/herself where they are going to go, or where they can go without being suffocated in darkness-be wise. For the nonbeliever, I think it’s hope. I mean, if Jesus died for the unworthy, and healed those who didn’t deserve to be healed, when applied to eternal consequences, who says the cut off time for salvation is death/rapture? I hear all the time the question of: “If I die before I repent do I go to hell?” I don’t know. But I do like to believe in grace, and know I am no better than the most sinful of men in respect to deserving grace. Perhaps Jesus makes clean the souls of men who don’t want it, and don’t repent. Or perhaps one must first admit need, and confess Jesus is able, then find out He’s willing. I really don’t know. But there is some hope there.
In conclusion: the bible is really cool. Read it sometime. And go to dark places: bring God’s Kingdom to places given to darkness.

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