Saturday, May 9, 2009

"If you are willing"

"A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "if you are willing, you can make me clean."
Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.
"I am willing," he said. "Be clean!"
Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
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."

If you are like me (and not saying you need to be) you read something once, twice and then sometime later read it again and all of a sudden you see it in a different light with a better grasp of the text.
Then you understand me and perhaps grasp how excited I am that I want to share my experience with you and maybe you also have something to share on the subject.
Anyway, such is my reading of this portion of Mark.

"A man with leprosy"
A lonely man who comes in contact with Jesus.
Now just prior to this story another story is told about Jesus suppressing the rantings of a man with an evil spirit who was also in the synagogue at the same time he, that is Jesus was teaching.
I say suppressed because that is exactly what Jesus did along with casting the spirit out of the man.
"Be quiet!" said Jesus sternly.
In between the two stories, Mark talks about Jesus going off to a "solitary place" where he could pray.
Sometimes, we need an "alone" place.
Next, this man with leprosy approaches Jesus. A bold move for someone who most likely has spent a huge portion of his life alone and in some very lonely places.
"If you are willing" he asks.
He is seeking but not demanding.
He is needy but still respectful.
He is lonely and he knew who to come to.
And Jesus is "filled with compassion"
This happens at the beginning of Jesus' ministry and as such, Jesus issues a strong warning suggesting that the healed man speak to no one but go directly to the priest to offers the required sacrifices.
And, isn't it just like us to do the opposite.
But, can you blame the guy, after all he had been a very lonely person for a good long time. Wouldn't you or I want to tell someone, anyone about your experience?
I think I can see what Jesus was suggesting.
Go, tell the priest. He needs to see this, to know this as much as you, "as a testimony to them", Jesus said.
But as word got around, other people began to seek Jesus.
And Jesus in turn sought lonely places (Mark 1:45)
Quite a turnabout.
And he wasn't by himself for too long.
Next is my take on things.
I think that part of being Jesus was his "light" that attracted people. Sure it would seem that from here on in and as word traveled that people sought him out of selfish needs but I still see it as they knew where to go.
Much like the man with leprosy, tired of the disease and tired of being alone, he knew where to go.
He understood where and whom to turn to.
I think that there are definite times when we need to seek a solitary place and then there will be times of loneliness when we know we have to turn to the one person who truly understood what being lonely meant.
We don't always choose it, it comes upon us and perhaps for reasons beyond us.
Reading this, going over the words again, I can identify with the leprous man only as far as to see my need and to recognize the one person to turn to who can truly understand how to fill that need.

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