Bill Onisick asks us to imagine a hypothetical situation in which we picture ourselves as an olive grower in biblical times who contracts the horrible, wasting disease of leprosy. After confirmation of the symptoms from the high priest, we become isolated from our family and the community. We despair of every feeling the touch of another human being. As a rotting putrefying hulk, we receive new hope as we learn of the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. As we prostrate ourselves, imploring Christ to take away the disease, we receive the joy of instantaneous healing and the wonderful feeling of being able to experience the touch of another human being again. In the accounts in Luke and Mark describing perhaps the first healing of leprosy in Israel since Naaman, Christ cautions the cleansed leper not to broadcast the account of his healing publicly, but instead go through the purification ritual outlined in Leviticus. By violating this request, the cleansed leper increased his public mobility but in effect ostracized Jesus Christ, limiting his mobility. There are multiple parallels in the purification ritual in Leviticus and our cleansing from sin, which we could compare to spiritual leprosy. Like leprosy, because sin renders our conscience dead and insensitive, we are not aware of its onset until it is literally wasting us, bringing about dismemberment, isolation and death. Christ took on all of our horrible infirmities, trading His place with us. As spiritual lepers, we can confidently reach out to Christ, and he will cleanse us.
Leprosy is a horrible, disfiguring disease, one that the ancients said could only be cured by an act of God Himself. Martin Collins shows that Jesus' healing of a leper manifested His divine power and mercy.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: As managing editor of Forerunner magazine, I occasionally receive unsolicited articles from readers who want their work published. ...
John Ritenbaugh draws parallels between earthy (or physical) and spiritual things. The cleanliness laws in Leviticus, prescribing washing, cleansing, and quarantine procedures, apply to the spiritual dimension as well. God will not tolerate uncleanness, either spiritually or physically. Spiritual sin and filth (physical or spiritual) is the primary contributory cause in devastating diseases such as AIDS or E. Coli contamination. We, as priests-in-training, have the sobering responsibility of keeping our bodies, our quarters, our thoughts, and behaviors clean and pure. Like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we need to flee uncleanness wherever the source.
AIDS and all its ramifications on society impacts the church too. John Ritenbaugh discusses what he has learned about this dreaded disease, as well as showing us how Christ's sacrifice applies in this situation.
John Ritenbaugh explains that Jesus' caution to Mary in John 20:17, "Don't touch me," is more accurately translated "Don't cling to me." Either translation does not contradict the First Fruits symbolism. (After all, the Levitical Priests had to "touch" the grain in order to offer it.) Also the charge Jesus gave to the disciples in John 20:23 was not to "forgive sin" but only to discern the fruits of repentance, consistent with the binding and loosing authority of Levitical Priests, applying God's law. Having the "Mind of Christ" gives the New Testament ministry the ability to discern the fruits of repentance. The problem with Thomas was more his tendency to be a loner, having cutting himself from the fellowship of his brothers, than his doubting. Thomas's insistence upon touching refutes the Gnostic's claim that Jesus did not have corporeal substance. Not only does the book of John (written in 96AD) provides a plethora of signs corroborating Jesus Christ's authenticity, but also shows a pattern to actively live as God would live if He were a man, with the effect of building and sustaining faith. The epilogue (chapter 21) seemed to be added to counteract the assumption that John would live until Christ's second coming, as well as confuting the Gnostics' claim that Jesus did not have physical substance. The conclusion describes the disciples' bewildered reaction to their resurrected teacher. In this incident, Jesus formally, by using expressions identifying different levels of love, affirms the intense responsibility and difficulty of the commission given to Peter.
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