ODJ: trading places

July 10, 2015 

READ: Mark 1:40-45 

Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said.“Be healed!” (v.41).

He shouldn’t have been there, but the pain and isolation made him desperate. Was this the sum total of his life—to scream “Unclean! Unclean!” whenever anyone came near him? To wear torn clothes to signal his diseased state . . . to feel so alone?

He hadn’t been embraced in a long time. And to offer a hug himself would defile his wife, friends and family. That’s what the law said about the touch of leprous people (Leviticus 5:2-3). “They must live in isolation in their place outside the camp” (13:46), it said. And so he did.

But could this Rabbi make things different? The man had heard about Him healing others. Would the Teacher do something for him too? He just had to get near Him. Trembling, he approached the Rabbi. The Teacher knew the rules, but He was doing things a new way. The Man seemed so different than the other teachers. So compassionate. “Please,” the leper pleaded. “If you are willing, can you heal me?”

“I’m willing,” the Rabbi said, reaching out His hand. The holy man touched him! And his skin . . . it was healed!

The Rabbi then told him to go and see the priest, offer the sacrifices and do what the the Law required (Mark 1:44). But . . . keep it quiet? Well, if he must. (But he might tell a couple of friends. They’d keep it secret!) But they didn’t keep it secret. And soon Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but instead was restricted to the community’s outer periphery—its isolated, lonely spaces (v.45).

Look what happened: Jesus healed a man of leprosy, restoring him back into the community, while Jesus Himself was eventually banished from it. Jesus touched the untouchable, and wound up being the one ostracised.

An astonishing act of trading places. An astonishing act of love.

—Sheridan Voysey

365-day-plan: Matthew 13:24-43

Read Isaiah 53:4-5 and consider what Jesus experienced in trading places with us. 
What does it mean for you to know that Jesus traded places with you at the cross? How will following Him affect your relationships today?