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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Mark 1:40-45

It is significant that Jesus, in healing the leprous man, chose to touch him. Such an act would have made Jesus ceremonially unclean, and unable himself to enter the Temple or to participate in Israel's cultic life. By touching the man, Jesus showed himself to be greater than the Temple system (Mt. 12:6), that his work was bringing it and the Old Testament order to an end. As Jesus' work was not complete and the old order still in effect, Jesus did command the man to act in obedience to the commands of Moses. Yet the man in his actions showed that the old order was becoming obsolete by Jesus' coming. Rather than proclaiming the law of Moses by his works, he proclaimed Jesus with his mouth. And this, in spite of the fact that we are told that "Jesus sternly charged him" (vs. 43). How could the man have ignored such a command? Though the man may not have known it, he had already shown himself to the Heavenly High Priest, Jesus, and whereas the earthly high priest could only declare him clean, Jesus the true High Priest could make him clean. We also see in this act that Jesus symbolically took the man's uncleanness upon himself, and gave the man His own cleanness, which he would later do definitively upon the cross. Jesus was shut out of Israel's religious life, and therefore shut out from God, on our behalf. The diseases that Jesus went around healing were exactly the diseases that made people unable to participate ceremonially in the life of Israel. He was opening the way into the Temple for those who had previously been excluded. Yet a new Temple had arrived, Jesus himself, and it was into himself that he was ultimately calling all men.

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