By Brother Brian Shimer
Have you ever had the experience of being bowled over?
Not literally thrown off your feet, but spiritually, emotionally brought alive, shaken from one place to another, having your eyes opened to what was always there but never seen?
Perhaps it happened in an especially moving worship setting, or under great preaching, or in a quiet time with the Lord, or even on a walk in nature.
It happened for me while sitting in my first Simply the Story Workshop in August, 2011. The leader presented the story from Mark 1:40-45, the healing of the leper, and led us in discussion.
By that point in the workshop, I expected new treasures to emerge from the story, but I was not expecting to be knocked off my feet.
Go ahead, open it up yourself and read this short story:
The leper bravely and humbly comes, meets with compassion, is touched by Jesus and healed. Then, Jesus commanded him to go show himself to the priests. But, he disobeyed Jesus.
The leader asked, “So, was it a good thing or bad thing he disobeyed, since so many more people got to hear of the miracle?” That got a conversation going!
“What was the result of his disobedience?”
The story tells us. The man, who once had been an outcast of society, who had lived in remote places, perhaps with other lepers, was free to be part of the village’s life. But Jesus, who once had been free to enter villages and minister was now unable to do so. He “stayed outside in lonely places,” we read.
That’s when it happened.
I was knocked off my feet. I cried out, astounded, shaken to my core. How many times had I read this story, even preached it, but had never seen this before.
Here in the beginning of Mark’s gospel was a picture of the whole gospel. Hudson Taylor’s spiritual secret – the “exchanged life” was right here. Jesus took on the leper’s outcasted condition. He literally exchanged places with him. Jesus became the outcast. The leper was freed. Isn’t this what has been done for us?
May you live that exchanged life today! This is the gospel!