Sores evident on a body. Unkempt, in disarray, mouth covered, calling out, “Unclean! Unclean!”
There aren’t any lepers where I live. But this is what they had to do back then. Call out a warning. Be kept from the populace, declared ceremonially unclean.
The placement of New Testament reading fleshes out a thought further. Jesus talks about what we put into our bodies and says that isn’t what defiles us. It’s what’s inside of us, in our heart–that’s what defiles.
“It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” Mark 7:20-23 (NLT, emphasis mine).
These things don’t stay tucked away as dirty secrets. They seep and ooze out of the mouth eventually (remember, out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks). And aware of it or not, we walk around proclaiming, “Unclean! Unclean!” by the very words we speak.
Evil thoughts snicker and sneer. Sexual immorality flirts, offends, destroys. Deceit is a whisper, slander a sword. Pride and foolishness wear broad smiles and bellow laughter.
I’ve sat dumbstruck, embarrassed over words that fall from my lips. I’ve wished I could take them back. Years later, words in the past still carry power. I wear them like sores–some I don’t even notice, but others see. And I don’t know which is worse.
In the following verses, Jesus heals. He restores. The young girl possessed by evil–she rests quietly when her mother returns. The deaf and mute man, he hears and speaks. And when I wonder about the antidote for my afflictions, He is right there.
Healer and Hope, why didn’t I seek You first?
They were completely amazed and said again and again, “Everything he does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak.” Mark 7:37 (NLT).
Lord, the world sees glimpses of what is in my heart, but you see it all. And even though foul and offense have come out of my mouth, you still love me. You know my brokenness, but don’t define me by it, You save me from it. You see me for who I will become–all because of your great love. Thank you for grace.