This is a Bible study on Mark 1:40-2:22.

6 pages.

Mark 1:40-2:22 - Three Reasons to Rejoice in Christ Our Savior

Read Mark 1:40-2:22.


Did you hear about the party they had down at the local tavern the other day? What a bash! And did you hear who was there?

I sure did! And he claims to be such a religious man!

I can’t believe it. I never heard of such a thing! What was he doing there? What is he trying to prove? I don’t know. Why don’t we ask him?

Jesus, may we have a word with you? Jesus, we would like to know what you were doing at that party the other day. Shouldn’t a man in your position be setting a better example? I mean, what kind of a message are you sending? Are you sure you want to identify Christianity with joy and laughter and celebration?

Jesus responds, “Let me answer your question with a parable: When you attend a wedding reception and the bridegroom arrives, is it time for mourning or celebration? Celebration, of course! In the same way, when I am present it should be the occasion of joy in the lives of my people.”

As we come to this next passage in the Gospel of Mark, let us consider Three Reasons to Rejoice in Christ Our Savior.

Rejoice in Christ Your Savior, because of His Compassion for You🔗

While He was visiting one of the cities of Galilee, Jesus is accosted by a leper. Luke describes him as “a man full of leprosy” (Lk. 5:12). The N. T. commentator, William Hendriksen, gives the following description of the effects of leprosy:

...leprosy generally begins with pain in certain areas of the body. Numbness follows. Soon the skin in such spots loses its original color. It turns thick, glossy, and scaly...As the disease progresses, the thickened spots become dirty sores and ulcers, due to poor blood supply. The skin, especially around the eyes and ears, begins to bunch, with deep furrows between the swellings, so that the face of the afflicted individual begins to resemble that of a lion. Fingers drop off or are absorbed; toes are affected similarly. Eyebrows and eyelashes fall out. By this time one can see that the person in this pitiable condition is a leper...One can even smell it, for the leper emits a very unpleasant odor. Moreover, in view of the fact that the disease-producing agent frequently also attacks the larynx, the leper’s voice acquires a grating quality. His throat becomes hoarse, and you can now not only feel, see, and smell the leper, but you can hear his rasping voice.1

Having said this, it must be noted that the “leprosy” referred to in both the Old and New Testaments is not necessarily to be equated with the disease now known as Hansen’s Disease, which is described by Hendriksen. The Scriptures are speaking of some type of undefined skin disease, or even a variety of such diseases. However, in its most severe form, such skin diseases would no doubt display symptoms similar to those exhibited by someone suffering from Hansen’s Disease.

Consider the significance of leprosy as it is presented in the Scriptures. Scripture identifies this disease as “the plague of leprosy” (Lev. 13:2). “Leprosy is never said to be healed in Scripture, always cleansed.”2 The one who contracted leprosy was pronounced “unclean” by the priest (Lev. 13:3). The leper was obligated to wear torn clothes and leave his hair unkempt as he cried out, “Unclean! Unclean!” (Lev. 13:45). Note that the apparel described in Leviticus 13:45 was the apparel, and behavior, of mourning and contrition. When Aaron’s sons were consumed by the LORD’s fire for offering an unauthorized sacrifice, Moses orders Aaron to refrain from the normal routine of mourning, which included the tearing of one’s clothing:

Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, 'Do not let your hair become unkempt, and do not tear your clothes...But your relatives, all the house of Israel, may mourn for those the LORD has destroyed by fire.' Lev. 10:6

During the time of his leprosy, the leper had to remain outside the camp (Lev. 13:46). He was banished from the presence of God and His people. If, by the grace of God, the leper was restored to wholeness, he had to offer a sin offering before rejoining the congregation (Lev. 14:19-20).

The point being made is that during the Old Testament period, God employed the disease of leprosy as a physical and visible demonstration of the corruption and pollution of sin, the spiritual "disease" that devastates every man’s soul and life and that renders us all unclean before a holy God. In Scripture, leprosy symbolizes the moral “disease” of sin that corrupts us all: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isa. 53:6a).

Consider how the Lord Jesus responds to this man who is “full of leprosy.” Jesus is “moved with compassion.” If we came into contact with a man in the later stages of leprosy, how would we react to him? We would be repelled by him; repelled by the sight, the smell, the hideousness of his appearance and condition.

Now we may better understand how God in His holiness naturally reacts to our moral “leprosy” of heart and life; as the prophet Habakkuk declares of the LORD, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong” (Hab. 1:13a). Yet this same God, in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, is moved with compassion towards that leprous man, and towards us. This is how God loved the world: He sent His Son into the midst of the “leper colony” of this fallen sinful world; He is willing to receive any of us “lepers” who come to Him for spiritual cleansing and new life.

Jesus “stretched out His hand, and touched him.” Jesus came into personal contact with this leprous man; He performed a “hands on” ministry. His touching of the leper was foretelling and demonstrating His identification with us in our sinful condition: “[Christ] who knew no sin [i.e. Christ had absolutely no personal acquaintance with sin] he [God the Father] made to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Look closely at what this ministry did to Jesus. The leper’s disobedience, (in proclaiming to everyone the miraculous healing he received), forced Jesus out of the community and into the wilderness (Mk. 1:44-45). In effect, Jesus exchanged places with the leper, who in his present condition was banished from the community. Again, Jesus’ physical relationship with the leper, (changing places with him), is a tangible demonstration of Jesus’ spiritual relationship with us for our salvation. He exchanged places with us:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us; for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.' Gal. 3:13

...he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isa. 53:5

Let us rejoice in Christ our Savior, because of His great compassion for us. just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom. 5:6-8

Rejoice in Christ Your Savior, because of His Authority to Forgive You🔗

A few days later, Jesus returned to Peter’s home in Capernaum, and the crowds fill the place as Jesus “spoke the word to them.”

Suddenly plaster starts falling from the ceiling, then there is a gaping hole, and the next thing you know four men are lowering their crippled friend on his mat. The man is obviously paralyzed, and his friends have obviously brought him to Jesus for healing; but Jesus shocks everyone by announcing, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Note that Jesus used the plural (“sins”), indicating that this is not merely a case in which this man’s physical malady is the direct consequence of some specific act of sin he had committed. On the contrary, Jesus is acknowledging the fact that the suffering and misery of this life, which eventually terminates in death, is a general consequence of sin, as the Apostle Paul states in Romans 5:12, “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way, death came to all men, because all sinned.” Furthermore, in making this pronouncement Jesus is declaring that He possesses the authority to forgive sins.

Upon hearing Jesus’ declaration to the man, the scribes who were present took offense. They are not offended that Jesus accepted the fact that there is a fundamental connection between the sufferings of this life, (including sickness and disease and finally death itself), and sin. They are offended that Jesus is declaring that He possesses the authority to forgive sins.

Jesus addresses their objection with the question, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’” It is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven;” since that statement deals with a spiritual relationship, rather than a physical condition, and consequently is not visibly verifiable. Anyone can utter the words, “Your sins are forgiven,” but who can verify whether or not forgiveness has actually occurred? So, in order to demonstrate that He really does have the authority to forgive sins, Jesus heals the paralytic with His command, “Get up...and go home.”

Verse 10a is actually an editorial comment by Mark: Jesus healed the paralytic “so that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

Let us rejoice in Christ our Savior, because He has the authority to forgive our sins, and He exercises that authority on our behalf.

...if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 Jn. 2:1-2a

The verse literally reads, “he is the propitiation for our sins;” i.e. the sacrifice that satisfies the divine justice and appeases the divine wrath.

Rejoice in Christ Your Savior, because of His Willingness to Fellowship with Us🔗

As Jesus passes through the cities of Galilee, He comes upon Levi at his place of business and issues to him the gracious command, “Follow me.” Luke describes this man in these terms, “a publican, named Levi” (Lk. 5:27). Who were the publicans?

To understand who they were and the role they played in Israelite society, it is necessary for us to have some understanding of the Roman system of tax collection. Traditionally, wealthy capitalists, or joint-stock companies, headquartered in Rome purchased from the Roman Senate the right to collect custom duties on imports and exports in the Roman provinces. The purchase price for this right was paid into the Roman treasury (in publicum); hence, these capitalists were known as publicani.

The presiding officer (magister) of the joint-stock company operated out of Rome. Accountable to him were sub-magistri who lived in the provinces and supervised the receipt of monies and the transfer of payments to Rome. Below the sub-magistri were the portitores, these were the men who worked in the customhouses and actually collected the custom duties.

When Julius Caesar came to power, he abolished this method of auctioning off the right of tax collection by private corporations; but throughout the Empire, however, at the local level cities and communities still employed such companies to raise the sums prescribed by Rome. These tax collectors, the “publicans” of the New Testament, guaranteed in advance the delivery of a specified sum of tax revenue to the city authorities, but then collected far beyond that sum from the individual taxpayers as their personal profit.

Publicans were among the most despised elements of society. This was the case because of their unscrupulous business practices. Publicans overcharged the merchants and transporters of goods whenever they had the opportunity. Publicans would bring false charges of smuggling against a merchant with the hope of extorting money from him so that he might avoid being taken to court. But even more than because of their unscrupulousness, publicans were despised because they were the local agents who raised tax money to support the oppressive and pagan government of Rome. A publican was excluded from Jewish society; in fact, it was considered disreputable for anyone to associate with them. That was why the publicans were acquaintances with such other outcasts of society as prostitutes and notorious sinners.3

Upon following Jesus, the first thing Levi (also called Matthew) did was hold a great banquet; doing so in order to show his love for Jesus and to introduce his friends to Jesus (Mk. 2:15). So it is that Jesus’ disciples are brought into association with the publicans and sinners—in more ways than one. Not only do the disciples sit beside the publicans and sinners in fellowship with Jesus, but also, they, and we, enter into fellowship with the Lord Jesus in exactly the same way: confessing our sins and trusting Him as our Savior. Note that the chief of the apostles makes the same confession as the publican:

Simon Peter...fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, 'Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.' Lk. 5:8

...the publican, standing at a great distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his chest, saying, 'God, be merciful to me the sinner.' Lk. 18:13

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am chief.1 Tim. 1:15this is the testimony of the Apostle Paul.

Jesus knows of only two categories: the righteous, (those who are without sin), and sinners (Mk. 2:17); and His interest and mission is with the second category, us sinners.

Let us rejoice in Christ our Savior, because of His willingness to fellowship with us and take us into His fellowship. As the Pharisees themselves testified of Jesus, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Lk. 15:2).


The Scriptures exhort us to “rejoice in the LORD.” As a Christian, are you rejoicing in the LORD? As we consider this passage from the Gospel of Mark, we are given three reasons to rejoice in Christ our Savior: 1) because of His compassion for us who are spiritual “lepers;” 2) because of His authority to forgive us, an authority He willingly exercises on our behalf; and, 3) because of His willingness to fellowship with us and receive us into holy fellowship with Himself and God His Father.

Discussion Questions🔗

  1. What kind of man comes and kneels before Jesus? See Mk. 1:40 How does Luke describe him? See Lk. 5:12 What does the man request Jesus to do for him? How is “leprosy” described in the O.T.? See Lev. 13:1-3, 46; 14:19-20 Since the LORD used the disease of “leprosy” to depict the moral corruption of sin, is there anyone of us who is not a spiritual “leper” in the sight of God? Note Mk. 7:20-23,

A man with leprosy came up to him, kneeling down before him and begging him, If you are willing, you can make me clean.Mk. 1:40

And it happened that when he was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored him, saying, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.' Lk. 5:12

And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 2When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes on the skin of his body like a leprous sore, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. 3The priest shall examine the sore on the skin of the body; and if the hair on the sore has turned white, and the sore appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous sore. Then the priest shall examine him, and pronounce him unclean... 46He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp... Lev. 13:1-3, 46

Then the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make atonement for him who is to be cleansed from his uncleanness. Afterward he shall kill the burnt offering. 20And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. So the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean. Lev. 14:19-20

During the O.T. dispensation, the LORD used the disease of “leprosy” to depict the moral corruption of sin.

And he said, What comes out of the man, that [is what] defiles the man. 21From within [men], out of the heart of men, come forth evil thoughts, [such as] fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22[all types of] greed and malice, deceit, wantonness, envy, slander, arrogance, folly. 23All these evil things come from within [the man] and defile [him]. Mk. 7:20-23

  1. What does Jesus do for this man who was “full of leprosy”? How is Jesus’ motivation described? How is Jesus’ act of cleansing described? See Mk. 1:41 In what way did Jesus exchange places with this man? Cp. Lev. 13:46/Mk. 1:42, 45 In what way did Christ Jesus exchange places with us for our salvation? Note 2 Cor. 5:21,

Being moved with compassion, [Jesus] stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, I am willing; be made clean. Mk. 1:41

He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp... Lev. 13:46

Immediately, the leprosy left him and he was made clean... 45...he went away and began to proclaim what had happened and to spread the news everywhere. As a result, Jesus could no longer openly enter into a city; rather, he was forced to stay out in desolate places... Mk. 1:42, 45

[God] made [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. 2 Cor. 5:21

  1. For what purpose did the men present their palsied friend to Jesus? Note Mk. 2:3 But what does Jesus say to the man? See Mk. 2:5 What did Jesus want those people and us to realize? What is our greatest need? Note 1 Tim. 1:15 What is the root cause of all suffering in this world and of human death? See Rom. 3:23/6:23a,

Then there came some men, bringing to him a man suffering from palsy, carried by four of them. Mk. 2:3

Upon seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven. Mk. 2:5

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners... 1 Tim. 1:15

...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Rom. 3:23

...the wages of sin is death... Rom. 6:23a

  1. What does Jesus do to prove that He, indeed, has the authority to forgive sins? See Mk. 2:10-12 What has the Lord Jesus done that enables Him to extend to us the forgiveness of our sins? Note Gal. 3:13,

But in order that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins, (he said to the paralytic), 11I tell you, Get up, pick up your mat, and go home. 12And [the man] got up, immediately picked up the mat, and went out in the presence of them all. As a result, they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw anything like this. Mk. 2:10-12

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree' ... Gal. 3:13

  1. What kind of people were attracted to Jesus and gathered around Him? See Mk. 2:15 What did the Pharisees think of this? See Mk. 2:16 Why do you suppose they viewed Jesus’ association with such people as offensive? Note Lk. 18:9-10 The Apostle Paul was a Pharisee, but how does he describe himself? See 1 Tim. 1:15 What caused this transformation in his life? See Acts 9:17/22:14 After meeting Christ Jesus, what now is Paul’s confession of faith? See Phil. 3:7-9 Does Philippians 3:7-9 also express your confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?

While he was having dinner at [Levi’s] house, many tax collectors and sinners sat down with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. 16Now the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, [Why does] he eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?Mk. 2:15-16

And he spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a publican [i.e. tax collector]... Lk. 18:9-10

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 1 Tim. 1:15

Ananias said to Saul/Paul:

Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came [to Damascus], has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.Acts 9:17

The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know his will, and see the Righteous One, and hear the voice from his mouth. Acts 22:14

However, whatever things were gain to me [a reference to his good works], these things I [now] regard as loss on account of Christ. 8But much more than that, I regard all things as loss on account of the all-surpassing value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, because of whom I have suffered the loss of all things. Indeed, I regard all such things as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ, 9and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is derived from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that is from God, [received] by faith... Phil. 3:7-9


  1. ^ William Hendriksen, The Gospel of Matthew, Fifth Printing, (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Book House, 1981), 388.
  2. ^ C.E. Graham Swift, “The Gospel According to Mark,” The New Bible Commentary, Reprint, (London: The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1967), 811.
  3. ^ Sources:
    A Dictionary of the Bible, Wm. Smith, Editor, (Hartford, Conn.: S.S. Scranton & Co. Publishers, 1902), 779-780.
    Bible Cyclopedia, A.R. Fausset, Compiler, (Hartford, Conn.: S.S. Scranton & Co. Publishers, 1902), 592-593.
    Robin Lane Fox, The Classical World, (New York: Basic Books, 2006), 509.

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