Think of a time you’ve been camping, away from the hustle of life. Imagine waking in the cool, early morning, dew dusting every surface around you. The sun hasn’t risen and a few stars still pierce through the dark. Everything is quiet and still.
Jesus sought this stillness the morning after His busy day in Capernaum. He went looking for solitude to pray to God the Father. In the midst of His growing popularity, Jesus knew He needed the Father’s strength and guidance to accomplish His purpose.
Into this quiet scene, Simon and company come bumbling in. Breaking the silence, they tell Him that everyone was looking for Him, assuming He would be thrilled. This is the first of many instances where we’ll see Simon and the disciples don’t get it. They don’t understand why Jesus sought solitude and prayer. They can’t see beyond the crowds and Jesus’ popularity as a miracle worker. In verse 38, Jesus gently corrects them and reorients them to the purpose of His mission.
The disciples and crowds saw Jesus as a miracle worker who could take away their physical afflictions. But that is not why Jesus came—He came for something much more. Still, He never diminished the gravity of people’s physical suffering but He often used it to highlight deeper healing.
Jesus continued His ministry throughout Galilee and a man with leprosy approached Him. His disease would have made this man unclean, ruining his life in every possible way. He would have been an outcast—literally forced to live away from the rest of society. He would have been cut off from his family, friends, and livelihood. And he would have been barred from the temple, unable to access God. Leprosy didn’t just infect his skin; it infected and wasted away his entire life.
His desperation drove him to Jesus’ feet. In doing so, he broke the law (Leviticus 13:45–46). He should have called out, “Unclean! Unclean!” as he approached others. But he had nothing left to lose. He showed no doubt that Jesus could heal him. He only doubted Jesus’ compassion.
At this point in Mark’s fast-paced story, he slows way down. He doesn’t want us to miss this detail. Jesus was compassionate. He was so compassionate that He reached out and touched the leprous man. He could have healed him with a word and avoided making Himself unclean (not to mention the risk of catching whatever diseases the man had). But He didn’t do that. He saw all of this man’s heartache and met him there. We can only wonder when this man had last felt another person’s touch. Months? Years? Decades earlier?
Jesus saw this man’s suffering and healed not only his physical illness but healed him emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. Jesus doesn’t heal part way. He heals completely.
As much compassion as Jesus had for the people’s physical afflictions, He knew that was not His primary mission. He warned the man not to say anything to anyone. He didn’t want to be known primarily as a miracle worker, which would distract from His true purpose. But the man disobeyed and Jesus could no longer enter towns. Still, as we will see, Jesus continued to demonstrate His compassion for the hurting.