Oh To Be Like Him
OH, TO BE LIKE HIM – Mark 1: 40-45
I would like for you to look again at the words of the song we just sang. I asked __________ to sing this song because this song expresses what we as disciples of Christ should strive for…and that is, “to be like Him.”
- Look at the words again: “Oh to be like Thee! Blessed Redeemer: This is my constant longing and prayer; Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.” Oh to be like Thee! Oh to be like Thee! Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art; Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.”
- This is a pretty good explanation of what a disciple of Christ should desire.
But it is not just the song that says we are to be like Jesus.
- In fact, Jesus Himself, in Matthew 10: 25 says, “It is enough for the disciple that he become as his teacher, and the slave as his master.
- And in 1 Cor. 11: 1 the apostle Paul says that we are to be “imitators of him just as he is an imitator of Christ.”
A disciple is not simply someone who does those things that Christ commands…it is not simply someone who follows Jesus’ teachings and obeys them.
- A person can do that and not have the right spirit and attitude.
Being a disciple includes “being like Him…doing what He did…doing things for the same reasons He did…following His example…having within ourselves the same attitudes, the same heart He did.
So, this morning, we are going to learn a little more about what we need to do to “be like Him.”
Let’s begin in verse 40.
And a leper came to Him, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Now, for you to understand more clearly what Jesus does here in this situation, I want to acquaint you a little more with what it meant to have leprosy.
- Being leprous was more than just having a disease…it was a tragic lifestyle.
- There were many laws recorded in the books from Moses concerning how a leper should live and when you look at Lev. 13: 45-46 what you find is, if you are a leper you can’t wear new clothes.
- In fact, you must wear filthy rags where people can see you from several yards away and therefore, they could stay away from you.
And you can’t wash your hair…you can’t carry a comb…your hair has to stay messy and unkempt so no one can get close to you.
- And when you walk down the street and someone turns the corner and meets you, you have to shout “unclean, unclean” before they get near…so they will stay away from you.
- And when you go home you make sure that no one else lives there, ever.
- And you live outside of the city.
Leprosy was not just a physical condition…it had social and emotional, and spiritual consequences that were more tragic and painful than the disease.
- You couldn’t go to the synagogue…you couldn’t go to the temple where the priest was or where the people worshiped.
- And the Hebrews had no cure for leprosy.
- That is how leprous people lived.
And what made it especially tragic was that leprosy was frequently regarded as divine punishment for sin.
- Remember when Miriam grumbled about the leadership of Moses in Numbers 12 and how God struck her with leprosy?
- And remember when Gehazi went after the money that Elisha turned down in 2 Kings 5 and how he too was struck by leprosy.
- And then there was King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26 who went into the temple to offer the incense that only priests should offer…and he became a leper for the rest of his life.
- The Jews concluded from these incidents that leprosy was a divine punishment and if you had leprosy you probably deserved it.
- Consequently, the people weren’t very compassionate to lepers…after all, “why should they be when God wasn’t.”
Now, that makes this leprous man’s approach all the more startling because he obviously violates the law when he appears right up next to Jesus.
And notice two very important things about his coming.
- First, there is no pride in it.
- There is total humility…he gets on his knees and he begs to be cured.
- He doesn’t demand anything of Jesus…he only requests.
- He knows that he doesn’t deserve anything from Jesus.
And second, I want you to notice what he says.
- He says, “If you are willing, You can make me clean.”
- He doesn’t question Jesus’ power.
- But when this man comes to Jesus, even though no one else can cure him, he doesn’t question Jesus’ ability to so…instead he says, “I know you can make me clean.”
- So He doesn’t question Jesus’ power.
He does, however, do what a lot of people do today…perhaps some here this morning.
- He questions Jesus’ desire: “I know you can cure leprosy…what I want to know is, would you do it for me?”
Some of us do the same thing…we are just like the leper.
- We know that Jesus can forgive us…we believe in His power.
- We are just not sure that He will.
Well, let me tell you, Jesus is willing!
- You can read it in Romans 5.
- In Romans 5 we are told that “even though we were helpless and ungodly, even though we were sinners and unclean…even though we were, spiritually, like this leper… Jesus died for us.”
- That is how willing Jesus is to forgive us.
How willing is God to forgive us?
- So willing that even before the foundation of the world He planned the cross.
- So, if you are sitting here this morning thinking, Jesus can…if He only will…here is what you do.
- You take a mental trip to the cross…and realize that He went to the cross long before you were born into this life.
- He went there willingly…and therefore, He has already “willingly” made atonement there for you…even if you haven’t done anything for Him.
- And the real question is not, “Is He willing?” The real question is, “Will you let Him?
So, this leper comes to Jesus and says, “Will you touch me? Am I an untouchable?”
Let’s read now, vs. 41-42.
41 And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
Notice, Jesus doesn’t drive away the ones who have broken the law.
- He didn’t look at this man and say, “Get away from me!”
- Instead, the verse says, “Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him.”
And notice, Jesus touches this man before He ever says a word.
- Those watching Jesus would be startled by that!
And another thing, Jesus didn’t have to heal this way.
- He could have stood as far as from here to that back wall and said, “Be clean and be cured of your leprosy”…and this man would have been healed.
- But, in the gospel of Mark we see a Christ that is both touching and touchable.
- In chapter 3: 10 Jesus allows all who have an affliction to touch Him.
- In chapter 5 a woman who has been sick for 12 years with an issue of blood that makes her unclean…touches Him…and He is not repulsed by that.
- IN chapter 6 we see the sick in the market place and they lay the people on the street so that when Jesus walks by they can touch Him.
- He could have gone another way…down the alley…and avoided them.
- But, He was not repulsed by the touch of the untouchables.
In the gospel of Mark, what does it mean to follow Jesus?
- It means you follow a man who was a toucher and he was touchable by those that others considered to be untouchables.
And that is hard for some of us to hear isn’t it?
- Because we don’t like to touch people who are “unclean”…and we have them!
- They are not unclean because of leprosy…instead they are unclean because of our wrong way of thinking…our prejudices and judgments.
Who are some of the untouchables today? Let me suggest some.
- In some churches it is those who are divorced.
- They can come to church…but they are to be kept at a distance…the less they can contaminate the better.
- In some places people of a different color or race are untouchable.
- In some places people with a jail record are untouchable. (Irony…we convert them in prison…but don’t want them in our churches.)
- In some places people with drug and chemical abuse histories.
- Unwed mothers.
- People with little nor no education…people with no jobs.
- People who don’t dress as well as we think they should.
- Those who are not as well groomed…or whose hair is unkempt…or as not as clean as they could be.
- People with histories of mental illnesses.
- People who are diseased or dying.
- Sometimes it is the old.
It is hard to touch people who are “unclean.”
- And yet, as a disciple you follow a Christ who didn’t just touch clean people but unclean as well.
And let me say something right here: It is easier to talk than it is to touch.
- Always has been.
- You see, I can do my talking long distance.
- You can have your problem, you can need compassion, you can sit on the back row and I can say from way up here, “Well, I hope thing get better next week. I will be thinking of you.”
- But there is something very strange about compassion.
- It does not communicate well from long distance.
- Jesus puts his mouth where His life was…and we need to do the same.
A minister in Lubbock was driving one day right after a West Texas thunderstorm have moved through and flooded the streets.
- And as he turned one corner he saw an older lady whose car was stalled and she was out wading in the water, trying to open the hood.
- So he rolled down his window and asked her, “Ma’am, can I help you?”
- And she said, “Not from there.”
Compassion is hard to express long distance.
- You have to be close enough to reach out and touch someone.
And something else, this leper interrupted Jesus.
- Compassion comes with a price.
- It involves being willing to run the risk of someone upsetting your normal routine…the comfort you enjoy.
- If you don’t like interruptions, don’t follow Jesus.
Let’s read on.
43 And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, 44 and He said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.” 45 But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news about, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.
What Jesus tells this man to do here is not really what we might expect Him to do.
- We expect Jesus to say, “Go, get on the news, get in the papers, see the reporters and let everyone know what happened to you.”
- But Jesus doesn’t do that.
- He tells the man to “Go tell the priest…but nobody else.”
Why? Let me suggest that there are some very good reasons.
First, Jesus is simply asking the man to do what the Law requires.
- The man is now cured, but in society he is still ceremonially unclean.
- The Law is very clear…you have to go back to the priest who said you were unclean and let him pronounce you clean before you can ever be accepted by the community again.
- So, Jesus simply asking the man to do what the Law requires.
Second, notice Jesus said, “Go to the priest as a testimony to them.”
- When this leper goes to a priest that priest is going to have to make a decision concerning Jesus.
- You see, no one in that day could cure leprosy…not a rabbi…not a priest…no one.
- In fact, according the scriptures, Isaiah 35:5ff…and Isaiah 61: 1, only the Messiah would be able to heal the lepers.
- And when this man that the priest had said would be “unclean for the rest of his life” stood before the priest that pronounced him “unclean” and said “I am clean”, that is going to force those priests to make a decision about Christ.
Third, and maybe most important from the practical stand point, Jesus’ concern was that wide publicity of such a cure might, once again, cause people to come to him just to be healed…with no interest in what was really important…
- You see, in verse 38 of this chapter Jesus says that He came primarily to preach.
- And what was important was the call to repentance and forgiveness of sins.
- That is what these people needed more than anything.
- But if word got out that He could cure leprosy…well, people would come to Him for all the wrong reasons.
- And that is why Jesus didn’t want this man to tell anyone what had happened.
And in this passage His fears are legitimate because the leper disobeys and he tells everyone…and it becomes impossible for Jesus to enter the villages to do the very thing He had come to do.
- And we need to learn that disobedience, even with the best intentions, always leads to a hampering of Christ’s work.
- We do not know better than God…so it is always much better to do what God says.
I do think it is ironic though that Jesus tells this leper to go and tell no one…and he went and told everyone…and Jesus tells us to go and tell everyone…and we go and tell____
Conclusion: In this passage Jesus touches the untouchable.
How touchable are you? How touching are you?
When no one else would Jesus reaches out and touches this leper.
If Jesus will do that, then shouldn’t we?
Who are your untouchables? Would Jesus agree?
Jesus calls us to love those that we would naturally fear or hate.
- Discipleship is not learning to love those that love you.
- Discipleship is learning to love those you were taught to stay away from.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023