Now a leper came to him. Just for context, this does not necessarily mean a man with leprosy, but rather any individual who had some form of skin disease or legion. It could have plausibly been a person with bad eczema. Also, such a label was not reserved only for those with permanent fleshy problems, but temporary as well, so it could have also been a rash or other temporary ailment.
There is a fascinating note about Jesus’ compassion in this story. It is hotly and closely debated that compassion here should be translated “anger”. We believe we understand why Jesus would show compassion, but why might Jesus be angry? In light of the strong warning the man receives, I think Jesus might have been angry that those with the ability to heal had not already healed the man. At the same time, I think Jesus felt compassion toward the man who had not been healed, even though he could have been. Perhaps, as in other cases of multiple meanings, it is actually both that Jesus was angry and compassionate.
It is also interesting to note that Jesus, by having touched the “leper” would have made himself ritually unclean and in need of a cleansing. Perhaps this is part of why the man had yet to have been healed because those with the ability saw making themselves unclean for this man unworthy of their efforts
I feel it is important to remember that Jesus does not feel an isolated emotion only when scripture tells us, but felt the full gambit of human emotion at all times. Christians often perceive Jesus as almost Vulcan in his ability to resist emotion, but as we continue we will see that is simply not the case.
Once again we see Jesus telling someone to be quiet, and we see the someone not follow that command. Jesus really seems to have trouble with successfully quieting people.
As I spoke above, leprosy ailments could be temporary, which is where the, “offering that Moses commanded,” comes in. It was a sign that the skin lesion or rash had cleared, and thus that person could be allowed back into the village without fear of contaminating anyone else. All in all, it doesn’t sound very friendly, but it seems like an effective means of keeping contagious ailments from spreading too quickly. I have heard such practices be called well ahead of their time from a medical perspective.
Mark’s message of Jesus’ authority to perform actions, and have knowledge, outside of the ritualistic and academic contexts Jewish society required continues. This entire chapter seems wrapped up in this idea. It doesn’t focus on Jesus teaching average people, in fact as far as we can tell he never does. He teaches the men in the synagogue only and does so without references. He performs healings and exorcisms without ritual. He seems to have the backing of something extremely powerful and supernatural. Remember, Jews of this time would not have automatically assumed that something supernatural was of God because they believed in a number of lesser spirits as well. We saw this earlier in my blog with Jesus and Beelzebub.
So, thus far all we can really deduce from this Gospel is that Jesus appears to have the support of something powerful, something authoritative, revealed to Jesus at his baptism to be God the Father. I wonder what message Mark has in store for us in chapter 2?
Grace and Peace to you all.