Get Cleansed Not Just Healed

The Gospel of Mark is a great piece of writing. Declarative sentences, concrete nouns, action verbs. The action moves at an almost breathless pace.

The book was designed to be read to the gathering. The gathering was perhaps a synagogue or a courtyard of a large home. People would gather around and someone would read. Perhaps originally someone would be in the gathering who had been at one or more of the scenes. He or she would nod their head in remembrance.

Some recent studying I was doing discussed the idea that the healing miracles Mark reports also carried the concept of cleansing.

Remember the whole Old Testament thing about Clean and Unclean? A woman menstruating was unclean. Touching a dead body was unclean. Eating pork or shellfish was unclean. Lepers had to call out “Unclean” as they walked lest someone touch them and in turn become unclean.

Unclean meant separation from the community. When Jesus healed a leper or the woman with the blood flow that never ceased, he did far more than a physical act of healing. He cleansed them. They went from unclean to clean. They could now rejoin their community.

Doctors today can perform some of the miracles of Jesus daily. Physically. But healing the whole person and restoring to community? That’s hard.

I’ve read where plastic surgeons have done great work restoring a face badly disfigured by accident or disease. When the bandages come off and a mirror is held in front of the patient, they will often not see the change. What they see in the mirror is what they remember, not what they are.

Sometimes we fail to see the cleansing we receive through grace and instead continue to think of ourselves as unclean. Sometimes we forget as we are helping someone else that part of the help is to “cleanse”, that is, to bring them back into the community restored to wholeness.

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