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  • John Bryant

Mark 1:40-45: The Rest of Us Are Out of Luck

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.”41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.”42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.43 And Jesus[i] sternly charged him and sent him away at once,44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.


Sometimes, in the gospel of Mark, it seems people are summoned by Christ and have no choice. And sometimes it is Christ himself who has no choice. What is the leper's claim on Christ that Christ would have to stop and heal him. What makes this leper able to tell Christ what to do when the pharisees and the disciples can't.


The leper’s great and powerful claim on Christ is his complete dependence on Him. To depend, completely, on the Mercy of the Lord is to have it. Or, rather, to depend on Christ is to have Him.


We must not forget the power of this dependence. Here, it is not weak. It is bold, energizing. It is vital, loud, terrifying, bold. A fierce and wild humility. Our fierce and wild dependence is our claim on the Christ who has offered himself to us. He cannot deny himself, he cannot deny us. We have him checkmated.


This man had leprosy. His leprosy was his great tragedy. Leprosy is no gift to man. Leprosy, an illness, a cancer, poverty has no intention of being your friend or making you well. But if it is not careful, your leprosy, your mental illness, will take you to directly Christ himself. It is only sinners and lepers, it seems, who get to have Christ.


The rest of us are out of luck.



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