October 13

Read Mark 1 -- 3

In Today’s Reading:

Ministry of John the Baptist; baptism and temptation of Jesus; His Galilean ministry; 12 apostles chosen; unpardonable sin.

God had directed Moses to command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper . . . that they defile not their camps . . . [where] I dwell (Numbers 5:2-3). There is no disease that occupies so much space in the Scriptures as leprosy. It first appears as just a white-then pink spot; but, as it slowly progresses it becomes dreadful, loathsome, and fatal in its effects. It illustrates how insignificant sin first appears, but eventually the consequence is eternal hell.

A leper loses the ability to feel pain because of infected nerves. The leprous body can be burned, cut, or broken without the individual realizing it, since it has lost its natural protection against self-destruction. Still worse, as leprosy progresses, fingers fall off, arms, toes, and legs drop away. Lepers were incurable -- the untouchables.

One of these pitiful outcasts of society boldly made his way to Jesus -- beseeching Him, and kneeling down to Him, and saying [to] Him, If [You will, You can] make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him, and [said . . .] I will; be . . . clean (Mark 1:40-41). Matthew records that this leper worshiped Him (Matthew 8:2), and Luke said that he fell on his face before Him (Luke 5:12). Only Mark tells us that Jesus was moved with compassion and His loving hand reached out to this defiled leper and touched him. Jesus was moved with compassion, the deepest of human emotions and the truest expression of the loving heart of Jesus.

But to this leper, it was much more than just a touch. He was a lonely, defiled outcast that had not been touched by loved ones or friends, for all had stayed at a distance. Although Jesus' touch expressed compassion, the true power was in His Word: Be . . . clean (Mark 1:41; Luke 5:13); and today Jesus says: Now [you] are clean through the Word [that] I have spoken [to] you (John 15:3). Faith in God comes from His Word. Once saved, like the cleansed leper who began to publish it much (Mark 1:45), you too will express your deep gratitude for what Jesus has done for you.

When the leper said: If [You will, You can] make me clean (1:40), he had no doubt that Jesus could heal him, but doubted His willingness since leprosy was much more than a hopeless disease; he was defiled. It was not "could He?" but "would He?" Although everyone thought he was beyond help, this outcast was desperate and not ashamed to humbly seek Jesus. Like the leper, most of us have no doubt about the almighty power of Jesus to save and to heal. There is no doubt He has met others' needs, but we wonder if He will meet ours. Many know who, or what, will do them good, but they are too proud to ask or acknowledge their need. Just remember, the Lord is . . . longsuffering . . . not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9).

Thought for Today: The greater the outward pressures, the more time we must give to unhurried prayer.

Word Studies:

1:7 latchet = a shoelace; ; 1:26 torn him = thrown him into convulsions; 1:43 straitly charged = sternly warned; 1:45 blaze = to make known; 1:45 quarter = a region; 2:1 noised = to report an event.

Cross References:

For Mark 1:2: See Mal. 3:1. Mark 1:3: See Isa. 40:3.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for the missionary ministries · Country: Armenia (3 million) in southwest Transcaucasia between Europe and Asia · Major languages: Armenian and Russian · Religious freedom · 79% Armenian/Russian Orthodox; 3% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Intercede fervently in prayer for others (James 5:16).

Memory Verse for the Week: John 15:5