A Whole New Life and a New Whole Life

By Mark D. Roberts

August 28, 2019

“See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”

Mark 1:44


In this story from Mark, a man with leprosy comes to Jesus for healing. Jesus was his only hope of getting free from the dreaded disease that had cut the man off from society and would one day lead to his death.

Two wooden dolls embracing each otherIn response to the man’s fervent plea, Jesus healed his body. But then Jesus said something that we might find curious: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them” (1:44). The command not to tell anyone reflected Jesus’ concern that word of his healing power would bring the crowds and keep him from fulfilling his full purpose. Indeed, this is exactly what happened when the healed man disobeyed Jesus and told everyone what had happened to him (Mark 1:45).

But why did Jesus tell the healed man to be examined by a priest and present the offering required in the law? For years, the man with leprosy had been excluded from his community, forced to live on the edges because of his disease. Only the priest had the authority to declare that this man had truly been healed. Thus, the priest alone had the ability to restore the former leper in his community. Jesus could heal his body. But the priest could “heal” his relationships. This is exactly what Jesus wanted for this man.

Jesus still heals bodies, sometimes through the gift of medical science, sometimes through responses to prayer, sometimes with supernatural power . . . and often through a combination of all three. Yet Jesus is not just in the body-healing business. Nor is he just in the soul-healing business, though this is surely central to his work. Rather, Jesus seeks to make us whole in every dimension of life. The kingdom of God brings restoration, not just to bodies, but also to all that was lost when sin distorted God’s good creation. Though we wait for the full experience of the kingdom, even now God offers to each of us the chance to be whole in every part of life.

Something to Think About:

How have you experienced God’s healing in your life?

Where do you need healing today? In body? In mind? In a relationship? Or . . . ?


Lord Jesus, how I thank you for the compassion you showed this man with leprosy. Not only did you heal his body, but also you made sure that his relationships would be healed. He had a chance for a whole new life, a new whole life.

Thank you for offering the same to me. Though I don’t need dramatic physical healing today – thanks be to God! – I do need healing of mind and heart. I need greater wholeness in my relationships. I need to be healed of fear and selfishness. Continue, dear Lord, your healing work in my life, so that I might serve you as a wounded healer. Amen.

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: A Pastor’s Perspective on Work in the Bible

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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