Transfiguration, March 3, 2019 — Mark 1:40-45 — Shocking Events in Galilee and Marquette
Sermon for Transfiguration – Original 2,12,2012 – March 3, 2019
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. 43 And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –
There have been and will be events in our lifetimes that may well be described as “Astonishing” or “Shocking.” These events are unforgettable events that lead to a great deal of introspection and discussion. The 9/11 terrorist attacks and recent natural disasters certainly qualify as ‘astonishing events.’
There were also “Astonishing Events” often discussed in 1st Century Galilee. The Gospel of Luke refers to at least two events that would qualify as ‘astonishing.’
When certain Galileans brought sacrifices to be offered to God Pontius Pilate sent soldiers to cut them down, and their blood came to be mingled with the blood of their sacrifices (Luke 13:1). I’m sure that this event was discussed for many years.
Likewise, when the tower of Siloam fell and killed 18 people, this too was an ‘astonishing event’ that was not soon forgotten.
In the Word of God before us this morning we also witness a number of ‘Astonishing Events’ as described by the Gospel Writer. These events serve to open our eyes to and remind us of astonishing events that are happening even among us today, here in Marquette.
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit open our eyes that we may – SEE the faith of the leper and learn to approach the Savior humbly as he did; HEAR the humble prayer of the leper and learn to pray as He did; WITNESS Jesus’ loving concern for the leper and know that He has the same loving concern for us today.
Therefore we pray: “Sanctify us by the Truth, O Lord, Your Word is Truth.” Amen.
More and more, since the invention of the television, and with technological advances in High Definition, we are becoming a society more impressed with what we see than what we read. It seems to me that what we see often has a greater effect on us than the things we read. We can see fear, sorrow and horror in people’s faces. We don’t always understand the whole event when we read about it as we do when we see and experience it.
Even though it is described almost ‘matter-of-factly’ the event that we read about in the Word of God before us this morning was a truly astonishing event. There are elements of this event that people must have talked about for years…
40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him…
This Leper’s approach to Jesus was out of the ordinary…as was His need. We probably think nothing of the fact that this diseased man came right up to Jesus and fell down at His feet…
This was NOT the NORM. It was ordinary for a Leper to cry out when encountering another person on the road…as a warning. It was ordinary for a person with this disease to keep their distance because they were often disfigured and the disease could be passed on to others. It was ordinary for a person with this disease to live out his/her life alone, with only the company of other Lepers.
If there was a crowd around Jesus, they doubtless shrank away.
It was astonishing, a shocking departure from normal custom and protocol that this Leper walked right up to Jesus and fell to his knees before him. He must have been a horrifying sight, because the Gospel of Luke reveals that He was full of leprosy (Luke 5:12). He was a walking dead man.
This man’s need was evident, plain and outwardly visible.
Our need is just as serious. While there may appear to be nothing wrong with us outwardly – we are all conceived and born of sinful parents and born shot through with sin.
We, however, are often in denial about the seriousness of the situation. Sin is not a disease that causes us all to be short of breath or physically weak every day. We live as if there will always be tomorrow. We take life for granted.
We are by birth and nature spiritually dead in sins…yet none of us looks like a corpse. God’s Law unerringly reveals the truth of our hopeless natural condition, which is why so few want to hear it. There is no natural remedy, no anti-biotic for sin. There is no vitamin to ward off death. Our corrupt natures want nothing to do with God. Our sins separate us from Him. Our corrupt nature daily shows itself in sinful thoughts, words and actions.
Which is why we, like the Leper, come to Jesus and fall at His feet. We also know that there is no one who can help, but Him. The fact that we do confess our sins and humble ourselves before Him is astonishing evidence that faith has been kindled in our hearts. God has done what only He can do…give spiritual life to those born spiritually dead.
The Leper’s appearance was astonishing…but His prayer to Jesus was even more amazing.
“If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
It was ordinary for people to come to Jesus for healing. It was ordinary for people to ask the Savior for relief from sickness and pain.
When Naaman the Syrian came to Elisha with payment in hand, He was offended that the Prophet suggested he simply go wash in the Jordan River. He came with a certain arrogance and pride.
This Leper was different. It wasn’t just what he asked, but how. He said, “If You are willing…” He left his healing entirely up to Jesus. If Jesus wished to heal him, then he would be healed…but if Jesus did not wish to then he would die. He was prepared to die…if that was Jesus’ will. Yes, sometimes it is God’s will that a believer depart this life to be with Christ…which is far better.
Who can say – but the Almighty Himself – which is best for the individual believer?
The Leper’s trust in Christ is astonishing…and so is His faith in Jesus’ power. He believed Jesus was able to cleanse him of his disease, even at an advanced state.
Faith believes, faith understands that with God nothing is impossible.
Are your prayers astonishing? Do your prayers bear witness to an absolute trust that Jesus knows what is best for you? Do your prayers express your confidence that Jesus is able to hear and answer your prayers?
If when we pray we ask that God’s will be done…and mean it…then our prayers are astonishing and rare. If when we leave the outcome up to Christ...we are comforted and encouraged…then our prayers might be called astonishing. For the person who prays thus in faith…can be sure that his/her prayer will be heard, and God’s will shall be done.
What Jesus did next was more than astonishing…it bordered on unthinkable.
41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.
If you knew that someone had an infectious skin disease, would you reach out and touch them with unprotected hand? If you knew someone was infected with the Ebola virus or some other sickness, would willingly be confined in a small room with them?
What Jesus did was astonishing and for most…unthinkable. He risked contracting disease and ceremonial uncleanness in order to comfort this man in his disease. He risked being shunned by others in expressing His love for the man.
The Leprosy left him…like a virus suddenly purged from the body.
Jesus’ touching answer to the Leper’s prayer is yet another testimony of His wondrous love for each and every sinner. Jesus is both willing and able to heal.
Understand…it was a quality in Jesus – His Love – that moved Him…not some inborn nobility in the Leper. It was the same love that sent him to the cross that we should be delivered from the accusations of the enemy and from the consequences of our sin and from the threat of eternal death. He wore our skin and carried our sorrows that we might be delivered.
Jesus still has the same touching concern for us today. He comes to us personally in His Supper, offering us in a miraculous fashion His own body and blood, to confirm that our debt of sin is paid in full. He still reaches out to us when down with the comforting promises of His Word.
Jesus is willing…and has…cleansed us of sin. We stand justified in God’s sight by faith, clothed in the pure riches of Christ’s Righteousness.
One day we will, through death, be forever separated from these corrupt bodies of death. When we are raised again to life they will be glorified, prepared for eternal life.
43 And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
I think you’d agree that Jesus’ response to the healed man…is also astonishing. Why did Jesus attitude toward the man change so quickly from that of compassion…to scolding? Surely the man knew that it was required of him to show himself to the priest to be declared ‘clean.’ Surely the man knew what sacrifices of thanksgiving were required of him. Surely he also knew that until these things were completed, he could not return to normal life or to worship regularly the God who had freed him from his temporal disease.
Jesus knew the man’s heart. Jesus words – though strict – reveal his loving concern for his ongoing spiritual health. Jesus also knew that this miracle would stand to others as a testimony of His Authority and person.
Jesus is God…and is also concerned about our ongoing relationship with Him. If our relationship and connection to Him is to remain strong…then it is vital that we continue to read, hear and learn from His Word.
Even as physical health requires constant nourishment, so our faith in Christ also needs to be fed and nourished by His Word. We need much more than ‘trite sayings’ and ‘religious sounding words.’ We need to be thoughtfully in His Word on a daily basis. For even as a branch not united to the vine cannot grow, but only wither, so it is vital that we remain united to Him by faith and draw strength from His Word.
Jesus wants us to come to Him each day in prayer. Jesus wants us to come to Him again and again – not to be healed again and again – but to confirm to our trembling hearts that our sins are indeed forgiven in both Word and Sacrament.
As the Lord was concerned about the cleansed Leper’s ongoing relationship with God…so is He concerned about our ongoing relationship with Him!
45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.
It is NOT…so surprising that the man did not immediately follow through as Jesus commanded.
It is NOT…so surprising that when people heard they streamed to Him from every direction.
It is NOT…so surprising that Jesus came to be like the Leper had been…forced (because of popularity) to stay outside the city. This is not so astonishing at all.
We have an astonishing need in Marquette…that only Christ can fill. We therefore continue come to Him with a humble, yet hopeful hearts. We know that we have a willing and able Savior whose touching concern for us is evident day by day. We know that we have a loving Savior who would continue to bless us through His Word. We know this because –
He still invites us sinners to come to Him.
He has lifted our burden of sin from us…and daily would assure us of the same.
Come to Calvary’s holy mountain, Sinners, ruined by the Fall;
Here a pure and healing fountain Flows to you, to me, to all,
In a full, perpetual tide,
Opened when our Savior died.
Come in poverty and meanness, Come defiled, without, within;
From infection and uncleanness, from the leprosy of sin,
Wash your robes and make them white;
Ye shall walk with God in light.