Holy and gracious Lord, I seek Your favor and guidance today. Open me to new experiences of Your blessing.
Read Mark 1:40-45
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“How many lives have been ruined in the name of narrow-minded, intolerant, religiosity” (Brennan Manning)? A tough, unpleasant question.
If you’re honest, are there particular types of people that you instinctively want to avoid? Maybe you find it difficult to look at them without feeling awkward, or they hold a peculiar fascination that makes you want to stare if passing them in the street. Perhaps they are people severely disfigured by scars or a disability, or those who are so morbidly obese they can hardly walk. Or maybe there are categories of people that evoke a negative emotional response (think of some you hear about in the news).
People with chronic infectious skin diseases were regarded in Jesus’ day as untouchable, to be shunned and treated as outcasts. This was not just individual prejudice but also tied up with ritual, religious cleanliness and acceptance before God (Lev. 13, especially vs. 45,46). To touch someone with such a skin disease was anathema, and for a rabbi such as Jesus to do so intentionally was literally horrifying to his onlookers. But it also brought hope. If he could do it for this man in these circumstances, then he could do it for others, and as a result, “the people still came to him from everywhere” (45).
The fact that Jesus healed him is a vivid reminder of God’s transformational power. The way in which Jesus healed him not only speaks of hope, but also brings challenge to those of us who want to “live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6; 2 John 6). We may never articulate that there are those who are less acceptable to us than others, but if you notice which new people coming into your church or workplace get lots of attention (Jas. 2:1-9), and which never get asked to take any public responsibility, it can speak volumes about our collective prejudices.
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any areas of inner prejudice. Repent of them, and ask him to help you “live as Jesus did” instead.
Lord Jesus, I’m challenged when I see Your ministry among all kinds of people. I bring before You my prejudices, ask forgiveness, and pray for effectiveness in Your service.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.