It has been a full week this week with getting ready for an annual meeting, for Sunday worship, handling pastoral situations and so on. And I can in some ways relate to the situation which Jesus finds himself. There was so much expected of him. Earlier in the week he had healed a man of his leprosy. The man had made an impassioned plea to be accepted and made clean. He knew that Jesus could do that. About at the same time it also opens the door to things that had not been intended. Many people were being impressed and were openly now questioning whether Jesus would be the long awaited Messiah who would bring back the kingdom of their father David… you know… the good old days.
The man instead of obeying both Jesus and the Law of Moses went around spreading the news that Jesus had healed him of his leprosy. He should have gone to the temple and to the priest and been examined to be declared clean, offered the necessary sacrifice according to the law and then went to others about the greatness of God. He didn’t do that. He chose his own path and it had consequences, for Jesus, for the disciples and eventually for himself. Jesus was not able to enter into any town or village and this had a profound but unhelpful effect of making the disciples think they were popular and wanted which led to them fighting over who was the greatest among them. They would say crazy things to each other like, “God loves you but I am his favourite!”
So perhaps the lesson (Mark 1:40-45) is not so much about the coming of the kingdom as it is about how we should respond to it. We need to respond to the message when we have heard it. There are things that we need to do, not because a great and glorious thing has happened to us, around us or even within us. The healing is not about us getting setting free, it is about God who is making us whole and free through Jesus. And we need to, in turn, point to the kingdom and to the grace and mercy of God almighty. As one who has been rescued from what medical minds thought was going to be certain death, let me point out to you that it is not the moments of healing; it is not the moment of baptism, of confirmation, of marriage or even of ordination that is great and thus makes you great. It is every moment that you live after those powerful moments that gives grace to your neighbour and glory to your God that matters. Take some time this week to know what it is that God asks of you and then be brave and take the opportunity to do it and to live it, that the King might be known and the glory might be given to God. Then we will not need to worry about the good ol’ days.