Early in Jesus ministry, Mark 1:40-45 tells us of a time when a leper comes up to Jesus.
Now Leviticus had set out rigid rules about lepers and in Jesus’ day their disease meant they were spiritually unclean. They were social outcasts, had to stay 50 paces from other people, and if someone touched a leper, they too became unclean, and had to go through a purification process to be pronounced clean.
But this leper doesn’t follow the rules, He comes up to Jesus, and he kneels close enough to be touched. He says, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” And Jesus, instead of recoiling like a normal person at that time, reacts with pity. He reaches out and touches him and says, “I do choose, be made clean.” And the leprosy immediately left him, and he was made clean. And the leper went out and spread the word of what Jesus had done for him, even though Jesus had warned him not to.
In our worship services at Cumberland and Guinea we have this time of confession and assurance of pardon. I think this is our time to come close to Jesus and kneel before him. As fallible, sinful human beings, we invariably fail to live up to the standards we should. Sin is like leprosy, it tears at us from inside out, and it separates us from God.
Therefore, we do need to have this time, this time of coming to Jesus, kneeling down to him, and asking him, “If you choose, you can cleanse us.” And the assurance of pardon is his response to us, “I do choose, be made clean.” When that leper came to Jesus, and Jesus touched him, Jesus took on his uncleanliness, and returned it back to him pure and unblemished just as Jesus was.
And that is what Jesus did for us on the cross. He took on our uncleanliness, our filth, our leprosy, our sin, and when we touch him on the cross, his innocence, his purity, his holiness, flows back to us and we are cleansed, made clean. The wonderful thing is there is no longer any need to keep quiet about it.
The authorities have heard about Jesus, have done their worst to stop him, and have failed. So, when you kneel before Jesus and ask to be made clean, and of course, it doesn’t have to only be on Sunday, but at any moment of your life, and he cleanses you because he so chooses, like the leper you are never the same again. And like the leper, you need to go out and tell everyone what Jesus has done for you.
REV. DALE BROWN is the pastor of Cumberland and Guinea Presbyterian Churches. His email is email@example.com.