Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11
1 Corinthians 10:31–11:1
The man … began to publicize the whole matter. (Mark 1:45)
Have you ever watched a movie in which two characters trade places? Perhaps a mother and daughter mysteriously switch bodies. Or a pauper is mistaken for a prince. Usually, chaos ensues as the characters try to get used to their new roles.
In today’s Gospel reading, another kind of switch occurs, only this time both characters are very comfortable in their new roles.
First, there’s the man with leprosy. He had been living in a kind of exile from society because of his disease. But after Jesus heals him, he is set free from his isolation. He is so excited, in fact, that he spreads the news about Jesus far and wide.
Then there’s Jesus. He had been at the center of a renewal movement in Galilee, a kind of toast of the town, visiting every synagogue he could and receiving a warm welcome wherever he went. But all this changed when he met the man with leprosy. As a result of his healing the man, Jesus is the one who has to stay in “deserted places” (Mark 1:45). By touching this man, Jesus took the man’s uncleanness upon himself instead.
In a way, this switch is a foreshadowing of the cross. Jesus became an outsider, despised and rejected, so that we could become insiders in his heavenly kingdom. Can you imagine? First, the infinite and eternal God became a vulnerable, helpless baby. Then, throughout his life, he endured exclusion, misunderstanding, and ridicule. Only the purest, most sacrificial love could accept all of this for the sake of redeeming a people lost in sin.
Take a moment, and imagine Jesus standing before you. As he did with the leper, he wants to switch places with you. He wants to take your sin and your isolation. He wants to welcome you into his kingdom. Let him show you how much he loves you, accepts you, and rejoices over you.
“Lord, thank you for becoming an outsider so that I could be accepted.”~WAU