Touching the Leper – Part 2 (of 2)

Touching the Leper

And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” (Mark 1:40-44)

In my last post, I addressed biblical leprosy and its causes in order to give some background on this incident in which Yeshua touches the leper to make him whole. In this post I address the implications of his touch, as well as addressing some misconceptions about the event.

Yeshua’s Encounter with the Leper

Now that we have a better understanding of the details of tzara’at, we must now return to our passage in which Yeshua encounters the metzora, a man who has contracted biblical leprosy. In the story, the man requests one thing of Yeshua. He asks, “If you will, you can make me clean” (v. 40). Notice his request. His request was not healing, but purity. This is an especially important aspect to the story in light of what we have learned from examining the passages in Leviticus pertaining to tzara’at. Continue reading “Touching the Leper – Part 2 (of 2)”

Touching the Leper – Part 1 (of 2)

Touching the Leper

And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” (Mark 1:40-44)

This is a story with which most people are familiar. During one of his return visits to the Galilee, Yeshua encounters a leper who begs for healing. Yeshua, being filled with compassion, touches the leper and he is healed instantly. However, there is more going on in this incident than what lies on the surface. Let’s take a quick look at some of the components that underly the passage and help break down some of the things the author assumes of the reader.

Biblical Leprosy

First, let’s take a look at biblical leprosy. The typical mental image painted by Sunday School lessons and Sunday morning sermons is of a debilitating disease which leaves a person marred and disfigured, with lesioned flesh and missing fingers and toes. We often envision the disturbing images from Southeast Asia and Central Africa as examples of what biblical leprosy would have been like. However, these are misrepresentations that we are forcing onto the Scriptures due to the use of the English word, “leprosy.” Biblical leprosy is known as tzara’at (צרעת) and has no relation to modern leprosy, otherwise known as Hansen’s Disease. Unlike Hansen’s Disease, which is a bacterial infection affecting the skin and the nervous system, biblical leprosy — tzara’at — involves none of these symptoms. In fact, you’ll be surprised at how very different these two diseases are from one another. Continue reading “Touching the Leper – Part 1 (of 2)”