For months now, I’ve been visited by a small, quiet urge to sit in the mornings with scripture and reflect. Partly I am inspired by this guy. Also, this guy. And this woman. So, this Monday morning, a couple of days before my birthday, I decided to respond to that urge, and begin, and see where it leads.
“A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.” Mark 1:40-45
I empathize with both of them. It was impossible for the leper not to tell everyone about the miracle he’d experienced, how his whole life had been turned around in a moment by a healing touch. In a moment he is freed from an affliction that cuts him off, makes him untouchable. In a moment he is delivered from being an outcast. People no longer recoil at his rotting body but instead treat him as a fellow human being. No wonder he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.
And poor Jesus. He gave a simple instruction to the leper and, once again, as with most of his simple instructions (see: “Love your neighbor as yourself”), it was ignored.
Jesus wants the miraculous healing to be offered up as a testimony, not about him, but about God. He knows the miracle isn’t about him, but about the power of love, the power that comes from God. But people can’t see that, can’t see the unseen. So they focus on what and who they can see. And clamor for more. Poor Jesus, without benefit of an agent or Instagram, becomes the celebrity of his day, unable to go anywhere without being recognized and mobbed. Even his own disciples hunt him down while he’s praying.
I imagine Jesus might have been thrilled when Simon’s mother-in-law, after being raised from her bed, simply gets up and goes on about her work (Mark 1: 29-31). Maybe she expressed some amazement, we aren’t told that. We’re told that she begins to serve them — probably making a meal, doing what was needed. Maybe her spirit, living in a woman’s body, knew that his body would need sustenance after that healing work. So she got about that work, feeding and nurturing the source of that healing power. Honoring and replenishing the source.