Monday, February 13, 2012

“I Will!” (Mark 1:40-42)

S-1295 6SAE/3B 2/12/12 Hymns: (O) #508; (S) #134; LS #307; #310; #399; (C) #54

Text: 2 Kings 5:1-14; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45

Theme: “I Will!” (Mark 1:40-42)

Question: “Which is easier to say, “I Will! Or to do what you said you would?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 6th Sunday after the Epiphany is from the Gospel Lesson: “And a leper came to Him, imploring Him, and kneeling said to Him, ‘If You will, You can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand and touched Him and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean” (Mark 1:40-42).

Saints in Christ, I wish to thank you for calling me to be your pastor and giving me the privilege of being and studying the Word daily. I truly love spending time reading the Scriptures because it just opens so many facets of God’s exceeding mercy towards us the sinners.

And Today’s text is no exception. This text is a jewel. It shows the exceeding mercy of the Son of God as He comes in contact with one of the son’s of Adam and Eve who has been shunned and cast out from his family, church and society.

St. Mark paints a very touching scene of a man who has gotten a death sentence because of his illness—leprosy. This man had to leave his home (we don’t know if he had a wife or family). But if he did, he would never be able to be in the presence or touch his mother or father. If married he would never be able to kiss his wife or lift up his children to embrace them. Instead, he would live in isolation and loneliness as an outcast.

This outcast and shunned person must have heard of Jesus who is able to heal various diseases. Therefore, he defies the Levitical law and comes out seeking help from the One who could and would. This unknown and unnamed leper comes to Jesus, kneels before Him and begs Him saying: “If You are willing, You have the power to make me clean.” These words must have pulled on the strings of Jesus’ heart. These words must have touched Jesus in a very special way. These words caused Jesus’ emotions to be stirred. These words moved Jesus with the highest passion, higher than the Himalayan Mountains; so that He responds with two tender, gentle and compassionate words that are life-changingI WILL!”

Jesus not only had the power to do it, but was willing to make Him well. And Mark tells us that Christ was exceedingly merciful and moved with profound passion and Messianic compassion towards Him. He, who would one day have His hands stretched upon the cross to fulfill the Law, stretches His hands in defiance of the Law’s requirement—touching Him saying, I Will. Be Clean!” How odd what the Son of God does.

Think of the medical profession today. Any nurse when working with any bodily fluid puts on a pair of plastic gloves for protection. Any EMT as they are called to the aid of someone puts on a pair of plastic gloves so they don’t contract the disease. With the influx of Aids, we know that disease is very contagious, we know better than to touch the sick person, lest we get sick too!

But not Jesus! Jesus the Creator of the Universe, the Holy One, the One who holds all powers in His hand does the odd thing and touches Him saying: I Will. Be Clean!”And immediately, the largest organ of the human body—the skin; over 100, 000.000 cells of this man’s skin came to life from death. The sores, the puss, and pain, all disappear, and brand new skin appears.

Right there and then, Jesus does the impossible and forbidden by the Law—to touch a leper because the disease is so contagious and deadly. But Jesus, in exceeding mercy, doesn’t allow even leprosy to get in the way of one who needs help and mercy.

With great compassion and mercy Jesus heals this man and gives him a new lease on life. Now this man is rejoicing. Now this man is dancing. Now this man is overflowing with hope and laughter. This man can (if he has a family) head home, touch his parents, kiss his wife and lift up his children to his bosom. Can you see this man now? PAUSE.

By this miracle you see the loving heart of Jesus. He is touched. He is moved. He is stirred and acts to bring about new life from death. How odd of God to touch a leper. Indeed God does the odd thing to bring about that which we can’t. This loving, caring and passionate God offers us divine mercy.

Divine mercy that changes lives. Divine mercy that demonstrate the will of God. Divine mercy that reaches beyond the scope of humanity. This divine mercy reveals G od’s will for man—that He might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Man’s will on the other hand is different.

Man’s will is to seek and please himself. It’s self-serving, self-seeking, and self-gratifying to get the most out of life. My wife would be a millionaire if she got a $1 for every time I said, “I will!” But I never came through. Even when we want something from God, we don’t go to Him first, but only after everything else has failed; then we seek His advice and will, and hopefully He would be compassionate enough to heal us.

We should be more like this leper, who in faith comes to Jesus kneeling before Him and begging Him to make Him clean. This leper didn’t get healed because He did the right thing by coming to Jesus. No, He got healed because Christ was exceedingly merciful to Him—touching Him and making him pure again. The physical healing Jesus offered became the introduction to the spiritual healing. Not only was this man cleansed from the disease of leprosy, but from the leprosy of sin. PAUSE.

Today, as you and I are privileged to be in the presence of the Great Physician Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit leads us to dig deeper into this gold mine of His Word. Here, we see with eyes of faith; here, we hear with ears of faith; and here, we are touched by the caring, compassionate and loving hands of the God who showers us with His is exceeding Divine Mercy.

This is the Mercy that Jesus shows to humanity in our moments of weakness. There is no greater example of this than when we see Jesus for who He really is. That moment when we see Jesus for who He really has come to be for us is when He is hanging dead on the tree of the cross! There is the greatest example of divine mercy, Jesus offers Himself, once for all. There He becomes the perfect offering, the perfect sacrifice to cover EVERY sin, even the sin of the leper, you and me!

No wonder Isaiah said of Him: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).

By this act of mercy, Jesus shows Himself to be the very promised Messiah that will be the perfect fulfillment to the Law and promises of God. There He grants ultimate healing to humanity. There He forgives sins. There He opens the door that leads out of unbelief and despair and into the wonderful certainty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

It is the cross then, placed on our forehead and on our hearts in Holy Baptism, which turns our prayers from pious wishes into certain requests that we can make for the Lord, confident that He will hear and answer! Now, we have the advantage over the Leper. He didn’t have the cross and empty tomb to look to. We do. We flee to the Old Rugged Cross, knowing that it is not only an instrument of horrific torture and death, but also the gateway to life and certainty in prayer.

Here in this place at this time, the Lord Jesus Christ in divine mercy says to us beggars and lepers: “I Will. Be Clean!” He reaches out to us with those pierced hands and touches us with His exceeding mercy. He touches us with His Word. He cleanses us from the leprosy of sin and makes us new and whole again. He offers us His body and blood—the food that will sustain us for the journey ahead. And He promises us that He will be our God and Lord.

Here and now, Jesus the Holy, Righteous, Son of God and Son of Man reaches down to you and heals you not only physically, but more importantly spiritually so that you can tell the world about Your Lord and Savior.

Oh, the blessings we have in knowing this Jesus, who is exceedingly merciful touching us even when rejected by church, family and society. He NEVER does. He welcomes us with outstretched arms to His bosom, because He is the God of exceeding mercy saying: I WILL! I CAN! BE CLEAN!”AMEN

Now the peace of God…


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