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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Today’s Reading | Mark 1:40–45

A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter. (NRSV)


It is interesting that the leper frames his request to Jesus for healing with “If you choose . . .” It is equally interesting that Jesus acknowledges and honors this way of asking by responding, “I do choose.”

I think this primed me to notice that there is another choice involved in this story. After he heals the leper, Jesus asks him not to tell anyone about it. In fact, it is said that he “sternly warned him.” Yet the leper chooses to ignore this warning and tells anyone who will listen what has happened to him. It’s perfectly understandable, of course—his life has been radically changed by the power of God. Yet I wonder if Jesus was upset with him. It’s hard to believe that he was, even though it resulted in precisely the kind of public response he was hoping to avoid.

During this introspective season of Lent, it’s good for us to remember that each of our days is filled with choices, whether we realize it or not. Some of our choices are easy to recognize, but even when things happen that are beyond our control we get to choose how we respond. In fact, this brings up yet another choice the leper makes: in the face of his debilitating and stigmatizing disease, he chooses to seek out wholeness.

So let us be especially mindful these days of the choices we make and the way we choose to respond to both the challenges of our lives and the remarkable gifts of God’s grace.

Gracious God, today I choose to be attentive to your presence in my life and grateful for the love that surrounds me, in good circumstances and in bad. Amen.

Written by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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