35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
40 A man with leprosy[h] came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
41 Jesus was indignant.[i] He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
Jesus Focuses On Why He Has Come
We do not know what time of year it was necessarily that Jesus got up before dawn. However, before dawn is before the work day in ancient cultures that had no energy supplies to allow them to work before there was light. Jesus starts his day alone with God. This is not solitary as a person is only by themselves. This is a pre-dawn tryst between two people who share a deep affection. Jesus maintains his primary relationship so that all other events in the day flow from it. God is waiting for a tryst with us in quiet places. Will we rush out before the dawn and start the day with him?
Secondly, knowing God allows us to set the boundaries for what is and is not our calling. Jesus does not do everything that is asked of him. He only concentrates on things that are in the will of the Father who sent him. I believe Simon was chastising Jesus for going off on his own when there was so much work to be done. Jesus’ healing ministry was starting with a bang in Capernaum. However, Jesus know that he had to announce the arrival of the Kingdom in neighboring villages. I find it interesting that he starts by using the pulpit in the various religious centers. He becomes a traveling rabbi and teaches from scripture.
This was a culture in which the synagogue was both the educational and religious center. I think it would be good if churches once more integrated the life of the mind with its other practices. No-one these days would think of the church as a center of learning where one could enter into a meaningful debate about local cultural issues, philosophical worldviews, or education. However, that is exactly what Jesus is doing. He is going to the think-tank that affected all of life in Israel and he is introducing new life into it. Once the mind is transformed in these places of learning, the communities will never be the same. This heady discourse with a biblically literate nation is coupled by works of transcendent power that gives a stamp of authority to his words.
Why is Jesus indignant in verse 41? Is it that he has compassion and is annoyed that this leper is uncared for by the community? Is it that he knows that healing this leper will lead to his not getting a moment’s peace. He enters into the world of the leper none the less. Leprosy covered a number of diseases at the time, not just what we would call leprosy. To touch a leper was to become unclean and risk infection with whatever malady the leper actually had. Jesus’ purity and life-giving power completely overwhelms the impurity and death of leprosy. The disease can not endure Jesus’ touch. Jesus tells the man strongly (perhaps linked with his initial anger) not to tell anyone about his healing. However, the man doesn’t follow the Mosaic law and is so excited that he can’t keep his mouth shut. People come to Jesus from everywhere, however the man healed from leprosy should not be seen as an example for us to follow as he directly disobeyed an indignant Jesus. There are times, then, when we should keep the work of Jesus to ourselves as well as times to shout it from the rooftops.
Jesus, I don’t know what made you indignant but I think that you were aware of how this man would disobey you and yet you had concern for him anyway. I disobey you and you have concern for me. You have healed me in so many ways and you continue to lead me in paths of healing from my fragile emotions. I am not quiet about your healing, should I be? I have a passion for seeing God glorified in education. I want to see a strong move against secularism and sometimes I can’t keep my mouth shut because of where I see this generation headed. Should I talk about it less? Probably.
I have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. Let me know what is mine to address. I was thinking today that I don’t have the emotional stamina to be the president of a healthy democratic government. I was thinking of how Clinton and Bush aged in office. I thought of myself as weak for not having that kind of stamina. Then I woke up to the fact that the responsibilities that I have right now are of a far different kind. Why would I admonish myself for not having the capacity to do what I am not called to do?
Jesus, help me to copy you in bringing a biblical perspective to public life. I don’t know what opportunities I have, but help me to use my educational expertise in the public sphere.
- Where does Jesus go before dawn and why?
- What would others have him to do?
- Why do you think Jesus is indignant in verse 41?
- What would be a modern example of going to the synagogues in your community and speaking God’s truth?
- What does God want you to talk more about or talk less about?