OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Reading in Mark brings me across 1:40-45, his account of the man with leprosy. Just before this passage, Jesus told his disciples they were going to move on to the next city--so Jesus could preach there also. This is where they encounter the leper, which makes perfect sense because that was where lepers belonged. They were banished because they were ceremonially and societally UNCLEAN.

This man comes to Jesus begging to be healed of the leprosy, and Jesus brings him so much more. Yes, Jesus takes away the leprosy because his compassionate healing heart was willing to do so (1:41). But then the last phrase of that verse is the greatest part to me today. Jesus says to the man, "I am willing. BE CLEAN!" This had to be some of the greatest news to this man. This shows Jesus' ability to heal more than the physical ailment.

For, who knows how many years, this man had to go among the streets of the town screaming, "UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!" Though leprosy was not something this man chose out of his own free will, he was still seen as ceremonially and societally unclean. The shame he must have felt as an outcast is more than I can really imagine.

But Jesus did not only heal the disease, but he says to the man, "BE CLEAN!" SO to say, "Now go into the town, and know that you are NOT unclean. You are clean. You are to be known as clean. You are not an outcast! You are ceremonially and societally CLEAN!"

I cannot imagine the freedom this man must have felt to know he was no longer unclean. Yes, he was miraculously healed of leprosy, but this man has now been told that after so many years, he is NOW acceptable, valuable and approachable. He is no longer UNCLEAN.

I also see a lot of people who are ceremonially and societally unclean, and I know that homelessness is not contagious; nor is poverty, drug addiction, prostitution, divorce, jail time, and sin. I know these things are not contagious, but I have seen many of these people made to be ceremonially and societally UNCLEAN! I cannot imagine the freedom God would bring to these people through healing of their ailments and situations. But my heart aches more at the fact that these people are falsely determined and branded UNCLEAN! I believe Jesus would walk among these people, yes, healing their ailments, but not only that. I think Jesus would go beyond that to say, "I am willing. BE CLEAN!!"

Now the question is: Will I be the only reflection of Jesus these people may ever know?