Many people are oblivious to the Gospel. They are not knowledgeable of the Good New’s content nor are they aware of its relevancy. As a result, the Gospel is absent in many forums and, even when present, it is often misunderstood or goes unnoticed.
In Mark 1:40-45 a report is given detailing Jesus’ healing of a leper. Through their interaction, the Gospel is applied to this outcast’s situation and demonstrated in a very powerful way.
The Gospel presentation begins in verse 40 with the leper’s request to Jesus, “If you will, you can make me clean.” This desperate appeal is based upon two realities. First of all, the leper affirmed his sorry state. He recognized that he was ‘unclean’ and could not remedy his own situation. The second reality that the leper recognized was that Jesus was capable of saving him from his horrendous condition. With these two matters in mind, the leper humbly approached Jesus with his bold request.
The leper’s request demonstrates the beginning of the Gospel. The Gospel begins to take root in the life of the person who recognizes that he is a sinner and in desperate need of a savior. In some ways it could be said that the Good News actually begins with bad news for mankind. As Romans 3:23-24 affirms, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” The person who accepts the reality of his own sinful depravity and Jesus’ redemption is primed for the Gospel.
The Gospel was further demonstrated in Jesus’ powerful response to the leper’s request. In verse 41 Jesus’ love was put on full display when he reached out, touched the outcast’s unclean skin, and healed him. With this shocking gesture, Jesus sacrificed his status of being ‘clean’ in order to cure this desperate man kneeling before him.
Jesus’ response to the leper’s request reveals the heart of the Gospel. Jesus’ love for God’s people was demonstrated perfectly when he assumed their depravity and died on the cross for all of their sins. As 1 Peter 2:24 declares, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” At the core of the Gospel is Jesus’ sacrificial love. Through his death, God’s people have been saved from their sinfulness and made clean.
Instead of obeying Jesus’ instruction in verse 43 to remain quiet, the healed man disobeyed by telling everyone what happened to him. His excitement drew so much attention that Jesus was forced out of the towns he desired to ministered in. This final remark states that Jesus and the leper had literally switched places. Jesus, who was ministering in towns and villages, was cast out to the “desolate places” (v. 45). And the leper, who was an outcast, was healed and welcomed back into society.
The conclusion of Jesus’ interaction with the leper beautifully demonstrates the result of the Gospel. Jesus and God’s people have switched places. Jesus left God his Father, lived a life of perfect righteousness, yet died a sinners death. On the other hand, God’s people were depraved sinners, yet made righteous and reconciled to God through Jesus’ substitutionary atonement on the cross. This is the Truth that 2 Corinthians 5:21 proclaims, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
The Good News is apparent in this account. Through Jesus’ interaction with the leper, the Gospel was demonstrated in a very powerful way. One cannot read this report and overlook the message that it proclaims. Through Jesus death, sinners are forgiven and made righteous.