February 13, 2007

Nothing Personal!

Lev. 15:32-33; Mark 5:21-43

"You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean." Leviticus 15:31


After reading Leviticus today, we might ask, "How intimate will God get? First my food, then my skin, and now this?" It's nothing personal, really--just the divine business of involving all of life in cleansing from sin.

This time something inescapably normal provides an opportunity to reflect on the disorder of sin and death, which threatens all people. If someone had a discharge, there would be a time of uncleanness, after which the person could go to the priest and offer a sacrifice to God. The uncleanness was also transferable. What you sat on, for example, became unclean. So while you were un?clean, you had to separate yourself from others.

Now, what if you suffered an uncontrollable discharge, like the woman who touched Jesus on his way to heal Jairus's daughter? Well, in a sense, there's no end to our uncleanness here on earth, for one day death will overwhelm us. Death is the ultimate uncleanness. But the giver of life overpowers death. So when the woman touched Jesus' garment, the flow of blood stopped, and when Jesus took Jairus's daughter by the hand, she rose from the dead.

God gets personal, right into the dark spaces of our hearts where death lurks. It's the personal business of God to oppose sin and death, to cleanse from sin and death all who call upon him through Jesus, his Son.

Cleanse me, O Lord, from all my sins. Wash me and make me whole. Shine into the dark places of my heart and fill them with your presence, I pray. In Jesus' name, Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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