Monday, October 17, 2005

Testimony to the Priests

According to Mark, one of Jesus’ first healings was of a man with leprosy. Here is the account…
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” (Mark 1:40-44)
While there is much to notice in this short story, I want to focus on the command of Jesus for the man to go show himself to the priest. This was in accordance with the Law of Moses, which gave specific instructions concerning diagnosing various skin diseases (see Leviticus 13). In reading that chapter you will notice that the priest is granted authority for diagnosis, but no authority or power to heal. The priests became experts at determining what was wrong, but had little power to improve the situation. Diagnosis, without corresponding healing, leads inevitably to a loss of expectation. Jesus sent the healed man to the priest “as a testimony to them.” Jesus was interested in giving a serious message to the priests of his day – “God is active and working mightily in Israel. Expect to see more of this!”
Being involved in the work of God always creates a sense of expectation, even a longing for more; a holy anticipation! Yet many Christians are perfectly comfortable living as those ancient priests – as diagnostic experts who are impotent to experience the power of God. Too many Christians feel free to criticize the church, the leaders, the ministers, etc. – giving their version of a diagnostic check-up. Yet when asked what they are contributing to the kingdom work of God they have little to offer. Jesus gives a contemporary testimony to such diagnostic priests today – “God is active and working powerfully through his churches today, you need to expect to see more of his activity. And don’t just expect to see it, expect to be involved in it!” Nothing is more disheartening than diagnosis without healing power. Nothing is more encouraging than being on the cutting edge of what God is doing in the world. What you see, of course, is determined by what you are looking for.

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