Mark 1:40 (KJV)
And there came a leper to him,
and kneeling down to him,
and saying unto him,
If thou wilt,
thou canst make me clean.
From other translations:
And a leper came to Him, begging Him on his knees and saying to Him, If You are willing, You are able to make me clean. [AMP] And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean." [ESV] A leper came to him, begging on his knees, "If you want to, you can cleanse me." [MSB] A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." [NIV] A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. "If you want to, you can make me well again," he said. [NLT] 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." [NKJV]
Now let us see what this verse is telling us.
Kneeling down to him
Picturesque detail omitted by some manuscripts.
Luke 5:12 has “fell on his face.”
If thou wilt
No one (maybe a few), doubt if God is able, but many doubt if God is willing, and if God is really loving mankind enough, to take good care of us. This is because they never took any time to see what God has done for them.
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A leper comes to Jesus. That was someone who was suffering from something resembling leprosy, a type of skin or tissue disease. A leper was ritually unclean (Leviticus 13:45-46). As an outcast he lived in financial and social isolation. He was dependent on charity.
The history told in Mark 1: 40-45 does not give us any time or location.
We may assume that this is one of the miracles that Jesus performed during His preaching, as described in Mark 1:39. According to Luke 5:12 it took place in a city. A location where a leper was not allowed to come. The law required him to keep a distance from the people and certainly not to enter a city (see Leviticus 13:45-46; Numbers 5:2, cf. Luke 17:12). He does what is definitely not allowed. But breaking the rules did put him in the right place.
This leper enters the city where the Lord Jesus is and falls to his knees before Him.
And then in his suffering he cries out as a helpless one, as a person who is about to drown, “If You are willing, You are able to make me clean” This is the cry of one who has seen nothing but death, who had only been able to wait for that death, but now sees an open gate to life, an open door to the kingdom of God.
Leprosy was usually seen as a punishment, a judgment of the Lord God (cf. eg Numbers 12:9ff .; 2 Kings 5:27; 2 Chron. 26:20ff.). And therefore the Jews viewed healing from leprosy as being as difficult as resurrection from the dead. But this man believed that Jesus could heal him: “If You wish, You can cleanse me”.
He knows and is absolutely sure of the fact that the Lord Jesus is able to heal him, but he wonders if the Savior is also willing to heal him. To find out, he had to ask Him. Even if he had to break some rules, he had to see the Lord.
This leper kneels before Jesus, a form of tribute that was only appropriate for God. What he says to Jesus testifies to an undeniable faith in His power, of which he has evidently heard (cf. Matt. 9:22,28-29). He believes that Jesus can heal and cleanse him. A leper was unclean; not only because of the danger of contamination, but especially because he applied to a God-chastised person.
Well, in the willingness of the Lord Jesus he is not put to shame. The Lord Jesus hears and answers, “I will, be cleansed.” And he is cleansed from his leprosy.
Have you also experienced this great thing?
Have you also experienced to be cleansed from your sins?
As you will know, leprosy is besides a terrible disease, also a type of sin.
Now it may be that some of us have discovered that they are in fact ‘spiritual lepers’, and as a result of this in dire need. What should they do? They must go to the Lord Jesus, just like that leper in this text.
And when they might wonder whether He will and can help them, they get the answer right here in this text. He can and He will help. In fact, he is a very willing Savior. It is His dearest work to help those who are lepers from the skull to the sole of the foot. So, let Him help you!
What a wonder that is, when we not only see our distress and misery into which we have ended up because of our sin, our leprosy whereby we will die and perish forever, but also see the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, whose blood cleanses from all sin, that leper saw something of that.
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