Exegetical Notes by Brian Stoffregen at CrossMarks.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
Some Thoughts on Mark 1:40-45
Jesus made a noise like a horse - he was so exasperated and incensed!
A lot of preachers will be trying to figure this one out. We will turn to scholars and they will say, and we will typically preach:
Jesus was upset because his preaching mission was interrupted.
Jesus was upset because the man is unclean.
Jesus was upset because the man doesn't believe Jesus can heal him. (Marcus, Mark, 209)
I was struck by the scholar M. D. Hooker's thoughts (Commentary on Mark, 80). He believes Jesus is disgusted with the demon. One might expand this to include the system as well; as in Ched Myers' text Binding the Strong Man.
How often do we get exasperated with the person and not the illness? How often do we get exasperated because we have more important things to tend to? How often do we get exasperated because of how we might be perceived if we are with someone for whom they disapprove?
We are all guilty of this. Me included. We may however loose a great preaching moment if we simply take our exasperation and project it onto the text.
What if we reread the story this way: The leper comes to Jesus. He has, more than likely, already been to the priests to no avail. He comes to Jesus who is not a priest and simply says, "Jesus you could make me clean"; which given the last few chapters is true.
Jesus snorts like a horse because he is simply disgusted - with illness, with the powers that be, with the world...but not with the man. No with the man he is moved and so he acts. He reaches out and touches the leper, making himself unclean according to the holiness code.
Then he sends the clean man away, not in secrecy, but why send him back to the religious power that could not make him well in the first place. No, he can go and he not tell anyone.
How do we begin to move our congregations to snort like a horse when confronted by the brokenness of the world, to be incensed; and then move them to action on behalf of those who come to us and invite us to engage in healing?
So often we are thinking someone else more talented, someone more generous, someone more schooled, someone else will come along and heal the leper raising their hand before us and inviting us into their life. The reality is that we are being invited - you and I. There is just us. And, we have been sent by Jesus.
A Little Bit for Everyone