Summary: We can sometimes get over-enthusiastic about bring people to Jesus and exaggerate what he has done for us. There is a simpler, more effective way. [Watch video: https://youtu.be/JiP5I9KTGQE]
Scripture Reading: Mark 1:40-45
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
In this passage that we have reflected upon several times before, we find a leper approaching Jesus for healing. After healing the man, Jesus sends him away with a stern warning: "See that you don't tell anyone about this." However, the man went around telling everyone he came across what had happened. As a result, Jesus couldn't enter towns freely and had to stay in isolated places. Now, two questions arise. One, why did Jesus tell the man not to tell anyone about the healing? And was the man right in disobeying Jesus?
Let us answer the first question first. Why did Jesus forbid the man from speaking about the miracle? This is not the only time Jesus has stopped people from saying things that might reveal his identity or purpose. A little earlier, when he was kicking out demons, he would not let them speak because they knew who he was (see Mark 1:34). Later, he would ask his apostles, "Who do you say I am?" When Peter answered that he was the Messiah, "Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him" (Mark 8:30). So, why?
The main reason was that everyone expected the Messiah they were waiting for to do something very different from what he was actually going to do. They believed the Messiah would be a liberator who would give them victory over the Roman rulers and re-establish David's throne. This is why they spread branches on the road when he entered Jerusalem, shouting, "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!" (Mark 11:10). They would understand who he really was and what he came for only after his death and resurrection. That was the time to spread the news about his identity. Now they only wanted to make him king on earth (see John 6:15).
This brings us to the second question: was the leper who was healed right in disobeying Jesus' instructions. While it is always wise to obey God, I don't know how the leper could have kept quiet about the miracle because everybody would have noticed he was healed and wanted to know how. What he could have done was keep his enthusiasm in check, and this is the lesson for us. We can get a little over-enthusiastic in telling people about Jesus and exaggerate the things he has done for us.
If we want to attract people to Jesus the better — and simpler — way is simply by letting people see that Jesus has made us clean, not from leprosy but from something as leprous: sin.
Today's devotional — Made Clean — is based on Mark 1:40-45, the gospel reading for the day. The reflection is by Aneel Aranha, founder of Holy Spirit Interactive (HSI). Follow him on Facebook: fb.com/aneelaranha