Moved with compassion
And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. Mk. 1:41
One of the most beautiful pictures in the gospels is the story of our Lord’s encounter – apparently the first in his public ministry – with a leper. As you might know, lepers were separated from the rest of the community, they were not allowed to participate in public worship, and you weren’t even supposed to touch them. Here is Mark’s account of it: “And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (Mk. 1:40). Now most people would have already made it home by this point; they would not have stayed around the moment they noticed this guy was a leper. But Jesus has stayed and listened to him. And then we have this amazing description of what happened next: “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean” (41). Note two things here: first, he was moved with compassion – he didn’t just heal him because it was the right thing to do, he did so because he was genuinely touched with the feeling of this leper’s infirmities. Second, the way Jesus healed him is significant: he touched him. He didn’t have to do it that way. Clearly, he could simply have spoken and he would have been healed. But here he was putting his hand on this defiled leper – probably the first time anyone had touched him in years. Because Jesus can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, he reaches out to touch us with the hand of his mercy and grace. When everyone else forsakes us, then the Lord takes us up.
Where are you today? Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you feel like you need help but no one can give it to you, except God? But do you feel that God would never help you because you’ve sinned against him and deserve only his judgment? That is true, we do only deserve his judgment. Let us remember that Jesus Christ came to be a high priest. He came to offer a sacrifice – his own life – not as a martyr, not as an example, but as an atonement to pay for the sins that we committed and to bring us to God. If you want to summarize in one phrase what our Lord did on the cross, this is it: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18). He came to bring us to God’s throne and to make it for us a throne of grace (Heb. 4:15-16). If you need help that only God can give, this is very good news. We can get help through the grace of God, grace which is obtained at the throne of grace through prayer, because Jesus our high priest has made atonement for sins by his death on the cross. Thanks be unto God for his indescribable gift!