"Meanderings in Mark"
Series on Mark, Lesson 7

And There Came A Leper To Him

Read: Mark 1:39-45

Text: Mark 1:40 (KJV) And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

Theme: The leper shows us the way to salvation: come, confess, ask, and believe.


QUESTION - Today we will be examining this account in which a leper found healing in Christ. What is leprosy? Can you describe it?

ANSWER - Barclay describes leprosy thus, "The whole appearance of the face is changed, till the man loses his human appearance and looks, as the ancients said, 'like a lion or a satyr'. The nodules grow larger and larger. They ulcerate, become staring. The voice becomes hoarse, and the breath wheezes because of the ulceration of the vocal cords. The hands and the feet always ulcerate. Slowly the sufferer becomes a mass of ulcerated growths. The average course of the disease is nine years, and it ends in mental decay, coma, and ultimately death. The sufferer becomes utterly repulsive - both to himself and to others."

ANSWER - Ron Ritchie (Peninsula Bible Church) describes leprosy thus, "The disease which we today call leprosy generally begins with pain in certain areas of the body. Numbness follows. Soon the skin in such spots loses its original color. It gets to be thick, glossy, and scaly. It fact, the affliction is called leprosy because it makes the skin scaly (the Greek word lepos, meaning scale). As the sickness progresses, the thickened spots become dirty sores and ulcers due to poor blood supply. The skin, especially around the eyes and ears, begins to bunch, with deep furrows between the swellings, so that the face of the afflicted individual begins to resemble that of a lion. Fingers drop off or are absorbed. Toes are affected similarly. Eyebrows and eyelashes drop off. By this time one can see that the person in this pitiable condition is a leper."

Leprosy is a terrible disease.

QUESTION - Have you ever known anybody who was a leper?

ANSWER - I used to be a leper! All those of you who are saved used to be lepers! If you are here without Christ, you are still a leper, for in scripture, leprosy is a picture of the spiritual condition of those who are without Christ.

QUESTION - How does leprosy (note the above description) picture the condition of the lost?

ANSWER - QUOTING Ron Ritchie again, "In the Old Testament, leprosy was viewed not so much as a symbol of sin as it was the judgement of God for sin and its consequences; sin which produces uncleanness, separation, decay and, for most, a painful and untimely death. Thus, leprosy was an outward sign of the death that sin produces in people's lives. When a person was cured it was seen as a symbol of the resurrection of that person from the dead and his reinstatement into the land of the living."

I was once a leper, and just like this leper, I one day found the road to cleansing and salvation through Jesus Christ. The way he was saved and cleansed is the same way I was saved and cleansed, and the same way you can be saved and cleansed of your leprosy.

Notice what happened when this leper came to Jesus:

I. He Discovered The Road To Salvation (Mark 1:40)

QUESTION - Can someone describe for me the process this leper went through in order to obtain healing from Christ?
QUESTION - How does this process compare to the salvation experience?

A. He Came

Rev 22:17 (KJV) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

SONG - Whosoever will may come

John 6:37 (KJV) All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

John 5:40 (KJV) And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

QUESTION - Did anyone bring this man to Jesus?

QUESTION - Would there have been reason to believe that this man was beyond hope?

ANSWER - There was no recorded healing of leprosy in Israel since Moses and Miriam. The last recorded healing of leprosy outside of Israel was Naaman the Syrian in the days of Elisha.

QUESTION - If this were the case, why would this man think Jesus could help him and come to Him now?

B. He Confessed

Isa 64:6 (KJV) But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Rom 3:9 (KJV) What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

Rom 3:23 (KJV) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

C. He Asked

QUESTION - What words are used to describe the leper "asking"? What do they say to you?

James 4:2 (KJV) Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

D. He Believed

QUESTION - Was there a hesitancy in this man's faith? How do you interpret the words "If thou wilt" (i.e. if you are willing)?

QUESTION - What, exactly, did this man believe?

ANSWER - He believed that Jesus was perfectly capable of healing him, even though Jesus had not yet, apparently, healed a leper, nor had anyone since Elisha. He believed that it was simply a matter of Jesus' WILL. He believed that it is sometimes God's will for people to be lepers! He believed that it may or may not be in God's plan and will for him to be healed at this time. Thus, he said to Christ, "If it is not contrary to your plans or God's plans, and if the purpose of my leprosy is fulfilled, I KNOW YOU CAN HEAL ME, so WILL you heal me?"

NOTE - According to Luke, this man was in the advanced stages of leprosy. (Luke 5:12 (KJV) And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.)

QUESTION - Is there an application here for those who believe that it is never God's will for us to be sick?

ANSWER - It is sometimes God's will for people to be sick, and to remain sick.

ILLUS. Paul (2 Cor 12:9 (KJV) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.)

ILLUS. Moses told God that he was not eloquent… that he had a speech impediment. God did not heal him.

ILLUS. Members of the Corinthian church who were not living for Christ. Paul said, "for this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep" (1 Cor. 11)

1. This confession of faith ("If thou wilt") is unique in the gospels.

2. Jesus was impressed with this faith, as evidenced by His repeating the very words, "I will…"

Acts 16:31 (KJV) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Rom 10:10 (KJV) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

II. He Discovered The Reason For Salvation (Mark 1:41)

QUESTION - Did Jesus heal this person because He saw some particular worth in him?

QUESTION - Did Jesus heal this person to prove a point?

QUESTION - Did Jesus heal this person to demonstrate His ability to heal to those around Him?

QUESTION - Although all of the above may be true in part, what is the real and final reason that Jesus healed this leper, according to verse 41?

A. Because of Jesus' Compassion

SONG - Jesus Loves Me, This I Know…

John 13:1 (KJV) Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

John 15:13 (KJV) Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Rom 5:8 (KJV) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Eph 2:4 (KJV) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

QUOTE - Spurgeon describes the word here translated "compassion" thus - "The Greek word here used, if I were to pronounce it in your hearing, would half suggest its own meaning. It expresses a stirring of the entire manhood, a commotion in all the inward parts. The heart and all the vitals of the man are in active movement. The Saviour was greatly moved. You have seen a man moved, have you not? When a strong man is unable any longer to restrain himself, and is forced to give way to his feelings, you have seen him tremble all over, and at last burst out into an evident break-down. It was just so with the Saviour: his pity moved him, his delight in the leper's faith mastered him." (From sermon # 2008 - Phil's Spurgeon Archive

B. Because of Jesus' Will

1. The leper recognized healing was purely a matter of Christ's will.

2. Jesus restated that fact to emphasis it.

3. Jesus demonstrated that it WAS His will by healing the leper.

4. So it is Jesus will to save all who are lost.

Luke 12:50 (KJV) But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!

John 10:18 (KJV) No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

2 Pet 3:9 (KJV) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

III. He Discovered The Reality Of Salvation (Mark 1:42)

QUESTION - What do we learn about the experience of salvation from this leper?

A. It is immediate

"as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him"

1. I'm not "going to be saved someday."


2. I'm not "going to receive eternal life someday."


3. I'm not "going to be righteous someday."


B. It is immeasurable

"and he was cleansed"

QUOTE - Ron Ritchie (Penisula Bible Church), "We can imagine what this leper felt like as the leprosy disappeared. The scales dropped off his skin and it became like a child's skin. His sores disappeared and the foul odor was no longer present in his nostrils. His eyebrows and eyelashes returned. His white hair became pitch black. His hoarse voice replaced by the strong vocal chords of his youth. The numbness and pain was replaced by the rush of blood throughout out his body. The fingers and toes that had dropped off in days gone by were restored. The face of an old lion now turned to that of newborn lamb. The deep sorrow was replaced by joy. His isolation was replaced by a return to fellowship. "I'm healed! I'm clean! I'm whole!" he cried in joy and amazement. All this happened through the compassion and the touch of our loving Physician's hand."

1. He would never be a leper again!

2. I will never be a leper again!

John 5:24 (KJV) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Rom 8:1 (KJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

IV. He Demonstrated The Result Of Salvation (Mark 1:43-45)

QUESTION - What did the Lord tell this man to do as a result of his healing?

QUESTION - Was he obedient to the Lord's command? What do you think of this? What was the result? Good or bad?

A. Witnessing is an expected result of salvation (Mark 1:43-44)

    1. Jesus plainly told Him to testify.
    2. QUESTION - Who did Jesus tell this leper to witness to? Why? What would have been the significance of this had the leper obeyed?

      ANSWER - QUOTE Ron Ritchie (Penisula Bible Church) - " The priests had no history of a Jewish man or woman being healed in over 2000 years, ever since the healing of Moses and Miriam. The last recorded healing which Jesus mentioned to the Jewish leaders in his home town of Nazareth (Luke 4:27) occurred some 850 years earlier in the time of Elisha. Our Lord reminded them that "...there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." So this man whom Jesus had just healed was the first recorded Jewish leper healed since the Gentile Naaman After his healing, Naaman gave testimony, "Now I know there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel" (11 Kings 5: 5).

      The priest would have to investigate this man. Had he been a leper? Yes! Had he been healed? Yes! Once this cleansing was verified, the question then would be, How was he healed? The answer, of course, was, by a man in Galilee named Jesus who was claiming to be the Messiah (Luke 4), and was proving it by healing the lame, the dumb, the deaf, the blind, the downtrodden, and now this leper. The evidence would then be submitted to the Sanhedrin for its investigation and final declaration. Jesus was generating an investigation of his person and power. He did not need any more testimony of his Messiahship in Galilee. He had had enough. But after the Galilean ministry, he would head south to Jerusalem and he wanted the religious leaders to know he was coming back to city as their Messiah."

    3. We are plainly told to testify of our salvation.

Mat 5:16 (KJV) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Mark 16:15 (KJV) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Acts 1:8 (KJV) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

B. Witnessing is a natural result of salvation (Mark 1:45)

QUESTION - Have you ever known someone who just couldn't help telling what Jesus did for them? (Share)

Psa 107:2 (KJV) Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;


Few lives were as miserable as the lives of these lepers.

Few lives will end as miserably as the lives of spiritual lepers… those who die lost.

As the leper was separated from his own, so will the spiritual leper be separated from

Have you been cleansed of your leprosy? Are you saved?

Do you have a loved one who is suffering from leprosy?

Anyone can find healing and life in Christ by simply doing what this leper did:

Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright © 1997 William E. Johnson.