Is every command God gives equally important? Obedience to God suggests a commitment to his authority, but some commands go unnoticed in my life when I read scripture. Is his command not to gossip equal to his command not to kill?
I started studying Mark chapter 1 this morning. I love reading the Gospels, in fact, I’ve felt convicted over the last couple of years that I need to study them at least every year. Mark is my first gospel this year as a part of my yearly Bible study goals. I love this book!
From the first chapter I get the sense that exciting and action packed things are happening. Mark uses the word ‘immediately’ nine times in the first chapter alone. It gives me a sense of urgency in Jesus’ actions. There is no time for him to waste in his three short years of ministry!
Jesus’ Immediate Purpose
Verse 38 drew my attention in this chapter. Jesus is ready to go and preach, it’s why he is on the move. He specifically intends to go to the towns to preach his word. As he is getting started however, he meets a leper, and when he sees the man’s condition, is moved to pity him. Though his first purpose is to preach, he realizes that for this man, there is a physical barrier to hearing his word; his leprosy. Jesus heals him and sends him to be approved as clean by the priest.
Jesus can see the big picture here. He gives the man some very specific instructions; to tell only the priest what has happened to him. Jesus has bigger things on his plate, than just the healing of one man. He is concerned with reaching the entire area of towns with the gospel. Its so beautiful that he takes the time to minister to the leper. He cares specifically that this man has the chance to hear God’s message in a personal way.
A Small Disobedience
I cannot imagine facing a lifetime of separation from friends and family because of an illness. That is likely this man’s situation. As a leper he was considered unclean, he would have had to live outside of town. Anytime he came near anyone he had to call out “unclean” so that they could keep their distance. Jesus fixed everything. He restored this man’s life.
The instruction Jesus left him with was simple and clear. He was to tell no one but the priest. In his understandable excitement, the former leper went and told anyone who would listen what Jesus had done. It’s tempting to believe that it didn’t matter. After all, how could it be bad to tell people about Jesus?
The Heartbreaking Consequence of Disobedience
Look at the last verse of the chapter. As a direct result of the leper’s disobedience, Jesus could no longer enter any towns to preach. This was his expressed desire in verse 38. Jesus’ ministry wasn’t destroyed. The chapter says that people came from all around to hear him speak. However, it did radically change his ministry. The casual intimacy of having the chance to enter people’s houses to minister to them was removed. He was restricted to the ‘desolate places’ when that was not his intention.
It is also tempting to think that this disobedience did not matter since Jesus was still able to minister to the crowds. My pride often tells me that since God is at work, my actions must be okay. What is really happening though, is that God has bigger plans than just me. My disobedience may not stop his will from happening, but it separates me from the joy of being used to complete it.
I, like the leper am focused on what I see and what I want. The leper didn’t hear him say that the reason he came to Galilee was to reach all the towns. I don’t know the behind the scenes workings of God, but he can use me in them…if I obey.
This is an exciting week! I have been working for a while on a prayer guide for the book of 1 Samuel, and I will be releasing it this Friday! It is a printable prayer journal which includes a scripture reading for each day and a devotion to go with it. In 31 days you will read and pray through the book of 1 Samuel, and journal each day.
UPDATE: You can find the Prayer Guide for 1 Samuel in my shop here!