Personal Foul

laimbeer2I never excelled at basketball. Contributing factors included my race, height, body composition, coordination, dislike of high-top sneakers, and aversion to continually bouncing the ball instead of carrying or hitting it. The key factor however was the “personal foul”, repeatedly earned for apparently incorporating my own method of fair play. Mark 1:40 kicks off a famous encounter with this, “And a leper came to Jesus”. This was a personal foul of epic proportions. Lepers didn’t come to anyone. They avoided people and warned others to avoid them. They didn’t even go to doctors because no one could help. If you encountered a leper it’s because one of you were in a place you shouldn’t be. A man who is willing to break all the social rules of the day out of desperation approaches Jesus. He is convinced of his power, but not his willingness. He throws himself at Jesus, flattering him and begging for mercy. The Lord does the unthinkable. He touches the man and makes him clean. Then he gives him one simple instruction. He sternly orders him to quietly fulfill the legal requirements that certified his cleanliness. The tone of Jesus’s command reveals his suspicion. The man disobeyed, does the opposite of what he is told, and forces Jesus to move on from the city and out to the wilderness. This is the second personal foul, but it teaches us something. Healing does not guarantee salvation. Getting rescued from the foxholes of life after calling on Jesus doesn’t always result in true discipleship. Coming to Christ in desperation is not the same as coming to Christ in faith.

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