Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Saturday after the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday

Posted on September 16, 2023 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: St. Mark 1:40-45 (NKJV)
1:40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. 43 And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.
“Did the leper just sin by disobeying Jesus?” This is a question I have heard people ask about this passage in particular. Interestingly, the question itself may have the answer within it. This leper is willing to kneel down and worship Jesus, even acknowledging His will above that of the leper. “If you are willing…” The leper does not look to anything except the mercy and will of the Savior.
Jesus, being the perfect lawgiver, tells the leper to follow the command of Moses for cleansing and tell no one. The bringing of the offering for cleansing was to be the testimony that the Lord had healed the man. But the leper does not listen, and instead proclaims the goodness of Jesus throughout the city.
This is what Martin Luther meant when he said to “sin boldly.” He was not saying that we should sin—far from it—but Luther recognized that believers will fail to live up to what is expected of them, even when they think they are doing the right thing. This leper ‘sinned boldly’ by doing the right thing at the wrong time. It is right to proclaim Christ, but not at the expense of what the Lord has told us. The comfort here is knowing that when we do sin, and even boldly so, the Lord is gracious and knows our weakness.
Collect: Keep, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy Church with Thy perpetual mercy; and, because the frailty of man without Thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by Thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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