OF COURSE I WANT YOU TO BE HEALED

Mk.1:41 – Being deeply moved with tender compassion, Jesus reached out and touched the skin of the leper and told him, “Of course I want you to be healed—so now, be cleansed!”

Most people would take a major step back when they encountered a leper. The response was probably a combination of repulsion at the grossness of the disease and fear of being contaminated, if not physically, certainly spiritually. The Jewish society had zero contact with lepers and zero answers for their dilemma. In one sense leprosy was a long, slow, horrific death sentence. This was all different with Jesus. No foul appearance or odor could offend Him, no threat of contamination or uncleanness could effect Him. When He saw the leper and heard his pitiful cry for help He immediately responded, “Of course I want you to be healed—so now, be cleansed!”

The difference with the Lord was the compassion that was seated deep within His bosom. He was moved and directed by His love for hurting people. That’s why He had come among us in the first place. Without hesitation Jesus broke all of the accepted codes, He reached out and physically touched the leper. Instead of Jesus being contaminated the leper was cleansed. Here is how Mary Healy describes this compassion that empowered and motivated the Lord.

“Seeing the man’s wretched condition, Jesus was, “moved with compassion.” The Greek word means physically churned up or stirred with gut-wrenching emotion. It was deeply human reaction of the Son of God. Jesus never looked upon afflicted people with detachment or indifference, but always with the empathy that comes from knowing the human condition from within. We can imagine the love in his eyes as he replied, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Does he will to make a man whole, to undo the ravages of the fall? This is what he came for!”

Now, are you ready for the best news? The Lord knows what you are going through. He is not disgusted or afraid, but just like He was for the leper He is moved with compassion for you. Maybe you think your sin is so foul that there is no hope for you. That is the whole point of this story. No matter how dirty you feel Jesus has a plan of washing and healing you of your impurities and the ramifications of them. He is willing to heal you; just come to Him and bow down like the leper, Jesus will gladly touch you and raise you up from your affliction.

FREE BIRD

Mk.1:41-44 – Jesus reached out and touched the skin of the leper and told him, “Of course I want you to be healed—so now, be cleansed!” Instantly his leprous sores completely disappeared and his skin became smooth! Jesus sent him away with a very stern warning, saying, “Don’t say anything to anyone about what just happened, but go find a priest and show him that you’ve been healed. Then bring the offering that Moses commanded for your cleansing as a living testimony to everyone.”

I love the healing miracles of Jesus. He was always stirred, or moved with compassion, when He saw people suffering with disease. Leprosy was one of the miracles we see quite often in the ministry of Jesus. Lepers were similar to prisoners. Their disease had placed them in isolation from their family, friends, and society in general. They were suffering with the stigma of disfigurement, the physical pain and suffering, and the separation from living any kind of a normal life. Leprosy made life miserable. Jesus touched this leper and His healing love cleansed this man of his disease. “Go show yourself to the priest”. This was quite significant, here is a description of the significance of going to the priest from Mary Healy.

“Jesus instructed the healed man to keep quiet about his healing, to show himself to a priest, and to offer the sacrifice prescribed in the law of Moses for the cleansing of skin disease. The prescribed rite was to take two birds, one to be sacrificed and the other, dipped in the blood of the first, to fly away free (Lev 14:3-7). If the man obeyed these instructions, before his eyes was a vivid symbolic image of what Jesus had just done for him. Once is sacrificed; another is set free. Although he could not have understood it then, this man has been set free from leprosy at the cost of Christ’s own blood, soon to be shed on the cross.”

This is a great picture of the ministry of Jesus. I was the spiritual leper disfigured and isolated until I was touched by Jesus. He took my sickness and I was set free. All of Jesus’s healing miracles pointed to the cross. Like Isaiah said, “Yet he was the one who carried our sicknesses

and endured the torment of our sufferings”. So now we have become that free bird. Once we were bound by our leprosy of sin, now we can fly away.

F BOMB ALTAR CALL

Mk.1:23 -27 – Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Holy One of God!” And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”

This was not what was expected at the Sabbath Service in the Synagogue in Capernaum. Service had always been predictable as far back as anyone could remember. Peter and his band of fishermen had attended services here all of their lives, this one was not going to be like any service they had ever seen. Jesus was the guest speaker that day. That sounds funny – come to service today- Jesus of Nazareth is our special guest speaker. Somewhere in the middle of service an angry voice began to cry out “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Holy One of God.”

I think Mark probably used the sterile version of what the demonized man actually said. I have never seen a demon yet with a clean mouth.

That brings us to a service almost forty years ago at our church on Kawanee in Metairie, Louisiana. During the altar call at the 11 am service a well dressed young woman who was answering the altar call began to shout obscenities. This was the first time I had heard so many F bombs in church. I have never seen a church empty so quick. The good news is the young woman got free and gave her life to Jesus. Several years ago she went home to heaven. That miracle atmosphere shaped the future of Victory Fellowship. You may not be attending a church that has obscenities during the altar service. I would rather have obscenities than the dead services that are far too common.

Back in that service in Capernaum jaws dropped as the shouting and convulsing intensified. The profanities and commotion ended just as quickly as they started. The man was suddenly just as normal as everyone else. I’m sure no one ever forgot the day Jesus was guest speaker in Capernaum, they probably never forgot the profanity laced altar call either.

FOLLOW ME

Mk.1:16-18 – As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

It seems that the Lord likes to hang around at the edge of lakes. You know, the disciples were called from the beach on the Lake of Geneserette; we know it as the Sea of Galilee. Parris and I met the Lord and felt His call on our lives at the lakeshore at Lake Ponchartrain. ‘Follow Me, I will make you fishers of men’.

That was 1973 and we found ourselves thrust into the Jesus revolution. Our lives were changed as well as thousands of others as the Lord began to pour out His Spirit on a generation the young and desperate. Young people across the nation were radically born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit. The change for many of us was total, effecting every part of our lives. We became part of a community of others who had also experienced this new life. Our whole culture was being transformed. The Bible was our compass, worship became our passion, and evangelism was part of who we had become. The natural end that we were headed to was to start a church. This new community would provide the haven for our love for God’s word, a place for believers to share their passion for Jesus in worship, and a group of people to evangelize our world. The Jesus movement had come full circle; the fruit for us was Victory Fellowship in New Orleans in 1979.

The basic seeds of the Jesus movement grew into our church over the coming years. Our love for God’s word birthed Victory Academy and Bethesda College, our passion for worship has been part of our identity and left its mark on everyone who visits our church. The discipleship we experienced in our Jesus community now lives through our Life Groups; our communities within our larger community, where we experience the beauty of spiritual family. Evangelism has also been a major part of this family being displayed in the free food festival Feed the Multitudes and the live production Beyond the Grave where thousands have given their hearts to Christ.

But how can we forget how it all started, it began at the edge of a body of water. It really began when the Holy Spirit fell on us and called us into this new life. Thankfully, that too is part of who we are at Victory Fellowship. The Holy Spirit fell on our church in shocking ways beginning in 1994. The impact of that outpouring still fills every service. As we celebrate 39 years at Victory Fellowship this Sunday I feel like I’m standing on the beach once again. Something is happening, Jesus is filling our lives again.

WHEN JESUS COMES TO YOUR HOUSE

Mark 1:30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her.

Jesus loves to make home visits. He was right at home in Peter’s house. After all, Jesus’ dad was a carpenter, His home was probably similar to the accommodations at a fisherman’s home. The normal rhythm of the home at been interrupted that day, Peter’s mother in law was sick and in bed. That wasn’t the norm, she wanted to be up cooking and helping with the kids, that was what she, like most grand moms, loved to do. Her sickness was the unwelcome guest but there was another guest in the home that day; Jesus of Nazareth. One touch of His hand was all that was needed, before you knew it, Grandma was up and all about the household duties. At the end of the day the size and value of your home is quite insignificant. What really matters? Is Jesus a welcome guest in your home. Here are some beautiful thoughts from Spurgeon on this verse.

“Peter’s house was probably a poor fisherman’s hut, but the Lord of Glory entered it, lodged in it, and wrought a miracle in it. Should our little book be read this morning in some very humble cottage, let this fact encourage the inmates to seek the company of King Jesus. God is oftener in little huts than in rich palaces. Jesus is looking round your room now, and is waiting to be gracious to you. Into Simon’s house sickness had entered, fever in a deadly form had prostrated his mother-in-law, and as soon as Jesus came they told him of the sad affliction, and he hastened to the patient’s bed. Have you any sickness in the house this morning? You will find Jesus by far the best physician, go to him at once and tell him all about the matter. Immediately lay the case before him. It concerns one of his people, and therefore will not be trivial to him. Observe, that at once the Savior restored the sick woman; none can heal as he does.”
Jesus is still a home visiting, miracle worker. Is something amiss or out of order in your home? Open the door to this special miracle Worker and everything will be back in harmony before you know it. He will walk into the room, place His hand upon you, and in a moment of time you will be changed by His love.

THE TOUCH OF LOVE

Mark 1:41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.”

This is the story of a leper, one of the many hopeless people healed by the touch of Jesus’ hand. This lonely man wondered if he would ever have a normal life again. It seemed like an eternity since he had enjoyed human love. To play with his kids, to hold his wife, or just hang out with his friends in his village, those days were gone a long time ago. Lepers were unclean, they were outcastes from their world. No one ever came back from the leper colonies. Leprosy was for all intents and purposes a death sentence.

The first ray of hope came the day this man heard about Jesus. It was rumored that miraculous power was working through Him. Maybe, just maybe, there was some hope for this leper. When Jesus was standing right in front of him he could hardly believe his eyes. The next thing he knew, Jesus touched him. There was love, acceptance, kindness, and miracle power in the touch of our Lord. This leper was getting a brand new life. Check out Maclaren’s thoughts on this story.

“Ever since his disease declared itself no human being had touched him. If he had a wife he had been separated from her; if he had children their lips had never kissed his, nor their little hands found their way into his hard palm. Alone he had been walking with the plague-cloth over his face, and the cry ‘Unclean!’ on his lips, lest any man should come near him. Skulking in his isolation, how he must have hungered for the touch of a hand! Every Jew was forbidden to approach him but the priest, who, if he were cured, might pass his hand over the place and pronounce him clean. And here comes a Man who breaks down all the restrictions, stretches a frank hand out across the walls of separation, and touches him. What a reviving assurance of love must have come to the man as Christ grasped his hand, even if he saw in Him only a stranger who was not afraid of him and did not turn from him!”

Maybe you feel rejected, hurt, and all alone. Jesus is coming near you today. Call out to him like the leper did. His touch will surely come, and when it does you too will know that you are loved.

IN OUR OLD AGE

Mark 1:30,31  But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them.

I wonder what Peter’s mother in law felt like when all the activity was going on in their home. Peter’s house (where she lived) had obviously become the hub of activity in that little fishing village. In all of her life, this sick old woman could not remember excitement like this in their little town. The only thing even close was when all of the villagers would travel together to Jerusalem for one of the great feasts, even those great memories couldn’t compare to this.

No matter how hard she fought the feelings; loneliness, pity and even rejection were all knocking on her door. She wanted to enjoy this moment with everyone else but her tired old body just wouldn’t cooperate. In a moment of time all of that changed. Suddenly, Jesus Himself was standing over her, He reached down and grabbed her by the hand. She felt strength, and love, and healing going through her all at once. The next thing you know Peter’s mother in law was right in the center of all the action right where she wanted to be. She was handing out assignments as dinner was being prepared, after all it was time for a great celebration. Their greatest guest was in the house. Here are some thoughts from Maclaren on this beautiful miracle.

‘He came,’ as if He had been in some outer room, or not yet in the house, and now passed into the sick chamber. Then comes one of Mark’s minute and graphic details, in which we may see the keen eye and faithful memory of Peter. He ‘took her by the hand, and lifted her up.’ His hand banishes not only the disease, but its consequences. Immediate convalescence and restoration to strength follow; and the strength is used, as it should be, in ministering to the Healer who, notwithstanding His power, needed the humble ministration and the poor fare of the fisherman’s hut. What a lesson for all Christian homes is here! Let Jesus know all that troubles them, welcome Him as a guest, tell Him everything, and He will cure all diseases and sorrows, or give the light of His presence to make them endurable.”

Maybe you feel sick and tired and left out of all the action. Old age or infirmity doesn’t have to be an excuse to be miserable. Jesus is standing by your bed. Stretch out your hand and let Him lift you up. You too will serving again before you know it.

PANPHARMACON- “A salve for every sore”

MERRY MONDAY- Parris Bailey

“And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.” Mark 1:1
In Mark’s gospel he straightway, in the first chapter, begins to show the compassion and power of the Lord Jesus. He tells of Jesus taking Simon’s mother by the hand, touching the leper, speaking to the Centurion’s daughter and taking her by the hand, putting his fingers into a deaf ear and putting His salvia on a stammering tongue, and creating clay for the blind man who saw men as trees walking. He was Panpharmacon- a salve for every sore. I believe Mark was not only describing Christ’s compassion, but in each of these people we see some of ourselves. There was the demonic boy who often cast himself into the fire- Jesus touched him also. Lets stop for a moment-just a brief moment in time, close your eyes and feel the touch of Christ. There is so much in His touch! Jesus comes and touches our filth and sets the contagion free. The gospel sole purpose is to touch us in our brokenness, for we are the leper, the blind, the deaf, the demonized and the dead. He is more than enough my friend. The leper, falling down before Jesus, said-“if thou wilt, make me clean”. Jesus said, “I will, be thou clean.”

“Let your touch answer to His, as He lays hold of us, in His incarnation and His death, let the hand of faith clasp His outstretched hand, and though our hold be as the timid woman who once laid her hand on His garment’s hem, the blessing which we need will flow into our veins from the contact.” (Macclaren) Jesus comes to touch the very thing thats been hidden in darkness for so long. Fall down before him and believe!

HE LOVES, HE LOOKS, HE TOUCHES

Mark 1:41 ¶ Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”

Have you been touched by God? No really! If you have, there would be some distinct changes in your life. He came to destroy the works of the devil. Have the works of the devil been destroyed in your life? What’s that? You don’t believe in a personal devil. Well, do you believe in a personal Lord? Is He real to you? Is He real to you today?
First of all, has the power of sin been broken in your life? I know no one is perfect but I am talking about an habitual lifestyle of sin. Has that been broken? The touch of God breaks the power of sin and introduces you to life. Just like the leper in today’s verse, there is power in every touch of God. Here are some thoughts from Charles Spurgeon.

“In reading the narrative in which our morning’s text occurs, it is worthy of devout notice that Jesus touched the leper. This unclean person had broken through the regulations of the ceremonial law and pressed into the house, but Jesus so far from chiding him broke through the law himself in order to meet him. He made an interchange with the leper, for while he cleansed him, he contracted by that touch a Levitical defilement. Even so Jesus Christ was made sin for us, although in himself he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. O that poor sinners would go to Jesus, believing in the power of his blessed substitutionary work, and they would soon learn the power of his gracious touch. That hand which multiplied the loaves, which saved sinking Peter, which upholds afflicted saints, which crowns believers, that same hand will touch every seeking sinner, and in a moment make him clean. The love of Jesus is the source of salvation. He loves, he looks, he touches us, WE LIVE.”

It’s in His touch that we first begin to experience His love. Its the power of His acceptance and love that brings us forgiveness and even more than forgiveness. His gracious touch brings us from death into life. The very life of God, the new birth actually makes us into a new kind person. Old things have passed away, new life has come. It all starts with a simple touch, the incredible touch of God’s love.

THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS COME NEAR

THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS COME NEAR

Mark 1:14-15 ¶ After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!”

The message that Jesus preached was the gospel, or good news, of the kingdom of God. He said the kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus was saying that God’s kingdom has come near, change the way you live. Most evangelical Christians have a contradiction between what they say they believe and the way they live their lives. Most will say they think the Kingdom of God is about to be displayed but their life and lifestyle say something different. Many live as if heaven is not real and all we have to look forward to is the enjoyment of our accomplishments, possessions, and our loved ones on earth. Jonathan Edwards had a different focus, here are some of his thoughts from “Heaven is a World of Love.”

“There dwells Christ in both his natures, the human and the divine, sitting on the same throne with the Father. And there dwells the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of divine love, in whom the very essence of God, as it were, flows out, and is breathed forth in love, and by whose immediate influence all holy love is shed abroad in the hearts of all the saints on earth and in heaven. There, in heaven, this infinite fountain of love – this eternal Three in One – is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it, as it flows forever. There this glorious God is manifested, and shines forth, in full glory, in beams of love. And there this glorious fountain forever flows forth in streams, yea, in rivers of love and delight, and these rivers swell, as it were, to an ocean of love, in which the souls of the ransomed may bathe with the sweetest enjoyment, and their hearts, as it were, be deluged with love! Again, I would consider heaven, with regard,”

The Kingdom that Jesus preached about is going to be beyond description. It will start here on earth when Christ returns to rule for 1000 years with His redeemed sons and daughters. When He comes to this earth, all the demonic influence will be gone, an incredible kingdom of love, joy, and peace will begin. The results of the fall will be gone and forgotten. Christ Himself, in all His Glory, will be here with us. The earth will be covered with the Glory of the Lord. We will begin our eternal exploration of the beauty of His love, that will be beyond human words. We will be brought into the fellowship Christ has enjoyed with His Father from eternity, whatever that is like, we will be caught up in a fellowship of love greater than any pleasure or friendship we have ever known. Our reward for our years of serving Him will begin. Our time of sorrow will be over, the time of joy and celebration will be full on. If this is true, I believe it’s time for some changes. Begin to evaluate the parts of your life without eternal value and eliminate them. Embrace Christ and His Kingdom. Like Jesus said, “The kingdom of God has come near”.