Christ has compassion for the rejected.

Christ has compassion for the rejected.

Mk 1:40-45

“And a leper came to Jesus…moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him.”

To be struck with the disease of leprosy was not only involved physical ailment but asocial and even religious rejection. Of all the diseases that were most feared, leprosy was at the top. Leprosy in the Bible referred to more than just Hansen disease, but it covered a variety of skin disorders from psoriasis to true leprosy. Thus, the symptoms would range from skin sores to the decomposing of the body, causing a person to become disfigured, resulting in a loss of fingers and toes. However, the diseases were more than just a two-week rash; but were long-term conditions that would torment the individual daily. Not only was it physically debilitating, but when a person contracted leprosy, they would be religiously isolated since they were regarded as ceremonially and religiously unclean. Because of this uncleanness, the individual was prohibited from living inside a walled city and would often be ostracized from the whole community. They would tear their clothing to show their grief and uncleanness. But there uncleanliness was not only viewed in relationship to their physical ailment but also they were regarded as unclean spiritually as well. The person was deemed unfit to enter the presence of God, and so the individual would be viewed as someone under the judgment of God.

When the leper came to Jesus, they came as individuals broken and hopeless, outcasts of society and living a life as a social outcast. When a leper approached Christ, the rest of the people would have shied away from them. They would have looked upon the leper with disgust and aversion. What would have been shocking to the people is not just that Jesus would enter a conversation with this man, but that Jesus would reach out and touch him. Jesus’ response and treatment of the lepers contradicted social and religious norms. He identified with them and demonstrated his deep compassion for them by extending his hand and embracing the individual. Christ provided an entirely different perspective. In one of his lessons, he even made a leper the hero (Luke 16:19-31). In contrast to the social norms, the anatomist was the rich man (a person revered in society), and the godly individual was the leper (a person rejected by the community). Christ offered a view of people that turned our perspective upside down.

This brings us to the heart of Christ’s compassion. Those that the world looks down upon and those who are invisible to society are those that Christ cares about. When we are overlooked or even devalued by others, we are still valued by Christ. He deeply cares about our life and the pain and struggles we face in life, whether physical, emotional, social, or spiritual. When you feel rejected by people, remember God never abandons those who come to him.

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