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These two texts are related in terms of a secret – Jesus tells others in each episode to say nothing to anyone, to keep what they’ve seen, experienced and received secret, or for themselves. If God is true, why keep it secret? If Jesus is the Messiah – the savior of the world – why keep it to ourselves?
TEXTUAL NOTES – MARK 1
This is the conclusion of the fast-paced first chapter of the gospel. Another healing, presented as a sort of exorcism. The leprosy is chased out of the man, and what was unclean, or impure, or un-like how God created it, become clean, righteous, returning to God’s path.
Curiously we hear that Jesus is moved with pity. Other translations say it as “becoming incensed”– why now? Why not before? What is unique about this situation, this man?
Leprosy (scale disease)– was a word used to describe any sort of skin disease. While it’s nonexistent for us in the Western World, it was widely known then and even now (in the 2/3rd world). One who touched a ritually impure person, such as a leper, would be considered to become also ritually impure. Elisha avoids contact with the man he heals in 2 Kings 5:1-14. Being ritually impure would require you to live outside of the camp and town, and prevent you from contact with your pure loved ones as well as entry into places of worship. Suffers of leprosy were regarded as corpses. Physical contact wih them produce the same defilement as touching dead bodies. (Numbers 12:1-16).
When healed, one was instructed by the Law to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, as a way to express gratitude and praise to God. Jesus tells the now whole man to do what the Law requires (it’s described in Leviticus 13). Why does Jesus instruct the man to do what he does?
TEXTUAL NOTES –MARK 9
Known as the Transfiguration this story is one of transformation, – Jesus is transfigured, becoming, or being seen, for who he truly is. Details of the story echo other scriptural stories – do you know them? Dazzling white clothes? On a mountaintop? Enveloped in a cloud? Why are Elijah and Moses there? Why does Peter offer to build dwellings, or tents, or tabernacles…such as the Jews built at the festival of booths?
Here again Jesus commands them to tell no one, until later, calling himself the Son of Man – a title which points back to the writings of Daniel 7:13-14.
Does Jesus not want us to know who he is? Or are we unable to recognize God’s presence in Christ?
Questions for going deeper:
1. What word grabs your attention in today’s selections?
2. How do you struggle to connect with God? How do you struggle to connect with others? How’s that connected?
3. How is the Spirit of God talking to you – or our church community – through these texts today?
I’m struck by the word “choose,” and the choices that Jesus and the leper made (“if you choose,” and he chose to cleanse him), and then the choice that the leper made to disregard Jesus’ command. We are blessed to have been chosen by God to be disciples, and I just wonder how often we disregard his commands to us….