The journey begins, 1:1-5:43

2. Jesus the Son of God, Messiah, 1:14-45

iv] Popularity - A leper cleansed


Jesus' early Galilean mission continues in both word and sign. In this episode, Jesus heals a man with leprosy when asked "if you choose, you can make me clean." Jesus chooses to do so, but asks him to observe proper practice and go and show himself to a local priest to confirm that he is clean and thus able to return to his community. Jesus' preaching ministry continues to prompt popular enthusiasm, so much so, that he is forced into the open countryside due to the size of the crowds he is attracting.


Mark again illustrates Jesus' authority and popularity. Jesus' ministry of word and sign forces him from the towns into the wilderness, and yet "the people still come to him."


i] Context: See 1:1-8.


ii] Structure: Jesus cleanses a leper:

A leper requests healing, v40;

Interaction with Jesus and immediate healing, v41-42;

Jesus gives a personal instruction, v43-44;

Jesus' popularity increases, v45.


The structure of this episode follows the standard form of a healing / miracle story:

The setting;


Associated word;



iii] Interpretation:

Jesus now moves out from Capernaum to travel throughout Galilee, preaching and healing. For Mark, the episode of the healing of the leper serves as an example of the impact of this mission. We are shown Jesus' popularity and acceptance - even an outcast seeks him out and is healed. In v45 there is a possible hint of future trouble, warning us of conflict ahead, conflict that is brought to the fore in the following five conflict stories, 2:1-3:6. Although there is a hint of trouble ahead, v45 serves to describe the initial success of Jesus' ministry. The episode as a whole establishes that from the outset Jesus' mission is to Israel; Jesus respects the temple, priesthood and law - Jesus is no rabble-rouser.


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of the passage can be found in the pew-level sermon notes Jesus cleanses a leper.

Text - 1:40

A leper is cleansed, v40-44: i] Jesus encounters a leper who requests healing, v1. The authority of Jesus is again exhibited, on this occasion with the healing of a man with leprosy, a disease as good as death. There is a sense of urgency in the leper's "coming", as he immediately kneels before Jesus in recognition of his authority. This recognition is carried over to the leper's statement that if Jesus wanted to, he could easily heal him. The leper doesn't actually plead for healing, but rather recognises Jesus ability to heal.

leproV adj. "a man with leprosy" - [and] a leper [comes toward him]. The adjective serves as a substantive. A disease as good as death and therefore, its healing is a powerful sign. It should be noted that the word is also used of various kinds of skin diseases. The historical / narrative present "comes" is used to introduce the episode.

parakalwn (parakalew) pres. part. "and begged" - pleading for, asking with intent, begging [him and kneeling down]. As with "kneeling down", attendant circumstance participle identifying action accompanying the main verb "comes", "came, begged and knelt down". The leper doesn't actually ask Jesus to heal him, so the sense of the word here is possibly not "pleading". The "kneeling down" is a variant reading; an action which emphasises Jesus' authority.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle, redundant, although it could be classified as adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the pleading on bended knees.

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - to him. Dative of indirect object.

oJti "-" - Introducing a dependent statement, direct speech, expressing what the leper said.

ean + subj. "if" - if, as may be the case, [you are willing, then]. Introducing a conditional clause, 3rd. class, where the condition has the possibility of coming true. Better, "if you so will" in the sense of "want to." The "if" is probably not expressing doubt in Jesus' ability to heal, but deference, ie., the leper is making a statement about Jesus' authority - "you are able to cleanse me, if you so desire"; "you have the power to make me well, if only you wanted to", CEV.

kaqarisai (kaqarizw) aor. inf. "make me clean" - [you are able] to cleanse [me]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to be able". Not declare clean, which is all the priest is able to do. Again emphasising Jesus' authority. "Cure me", Barclay.


ii] The leper is healed by both gesture and word, v41-42. The leper makes the point that Jesus has the power to heal him. Jesus agrees with this comment (something like "I am well able" would convey the sense better than "I am willing) and out of compassion touches him and says "be cleansed." Although the priests are able to declare ritual cleansing, only Jesus is able to cleanse, immediately and completely. Mark's addition of the words "the leprosy left him" describes the physical cure, while "he was cured" (better "cleansed") describes the restoration of the leper's covenant membership; he will no longer have to live beyond the camp, Lev.13:45-46.

splagcnisqeiV (splagcnizomai) aor. pas. part. "filled with compassion" -[and] being inwardly filled with tenderness, compassion, sympathy. The participle is adverbial, possibly causal, "because he was filled with pity, he stretched ....." Descriptions like these highlight the goodness of Jesus and therefore, the evil of his crucifixion. A textual variant, orgisqeiV, "indignant, filled with anger", is adopted by many commentators, eg., France. Although the variant has limited support, it is difficult to understand why "be filled with compassion" would be changed to "be filled with anger." Is Jesus angry at the damage done to this man, or the man's failure to recognise Jesus' willingness to heal?

ekteinaV (ekteinw) aor. part. "reached out" - reaching out, stretching out. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "touched".

autou gen. pro. "his" - [the hand] of him. The genitive is possessive.

hJyato (aJptomai) aor. "touched the man" - he touched, held, grasped the man. Again the physical touch of Jesus is noted, and in this case, he is touching an unclean leper, unconcerned with the possible communication of disease. "Stretched out his hand and placed it on the leper", Phillips.

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [and says] to him [i want, wish, will]. Dative of indirect object. "I will" better reflects the sense "I am able", rather than "I am willing to heal you." "I am well able."

kaqarisqhti (kaqarizw) aor. pas. imp. "be clean" - be cleansed. Divine passive (always a questionable classification). "Be cured!", Barclay. Decker notes that the use of an imperative in this context is for rhetorical effect.


euquV "immediately" - The use here of this temporal adverb probably serves to highlight the instantaneous nature of Jesus' healing.

hJ lepra (a) "the leprosy" - Nominative subject of the verb "to go away." The word covers a multitude of skin diseases, not just leprosy.

ap (apo) gen. "left" - [went away] from [him]. Here expressing separation. Describing the disappearance of the physical evidence of the disease.

ekaqarisqh (kaqarizw) aor. pas. "he was cured / he was cleansed" - [and] he was cleansed, made clean. The aorist is probably culminative, where the emphases is on the results of the completed action. The focus of the miracle is on cleansing, not physical cure, although Mark is probably making both points; the Leper is cured and cleansed.


iii] Jesus draws out the sign value of the healing miracle, v43-44. These verses seem to imply that Jesus wants to keep the miracle secret, and it is for this reason that he instructs the leper to say nothing to anyone, other than to a temple priest. Jesus may want to limit the problem of a discipleship driven by either wonderworking hysteria,or messianic fervour. Yet, is this Jesus' intent, or is he actually promoting this sign of the coming kingdom? Jesus forcefully tells the leper to go straight to the priest for the inspection of his body, rather than to dilly-dally with his friends and neighbours. Once the priest has declared him clean, the leper can then offer the appropriate sacrifice as "a testimony (witness) to them" - an evidence to his neighbours (not the priest) that he is indeed "cured", even better, "cleansed" in the sight of God.

exebalen (ekballw) aor. "[Jesus] sent [him] away" - [he] cast out, drove out [him]. This is a rather strong word. Most translators opt for a softer "dismissed him", REB, "sent him away", although these words do not express the idea of forcible expulsion. Yet, why would Jesus drive him out of the synagogue? Note a similar problem with "strong warning" = "growling at him", see below. It is possible to argue that Jesus is behaving like a secular miracle worker using theatrical antics in his performance, but it is far more likely that the strength of the words conveys a confrontation with evil powers, leprosy being a fearful weapon in the arsenal of darkness.

euquV adv. "at once" - immediately. The use of this temporal adverb again serves a dramatic effect.

embrimhsamenoV (embrimaomai) aor. mid. part. "with a strong warning" - having sternly warned, growled at. The participle is adverbial, possibly modal, as NIV, expressing the manner of the sending, or even temporal, "after warning him, he sent him away immediately." Although numerous possibilities have been suggested (eg., the man has dabbled in Satanic arts), there is really no reason for Jesus to be upset with the leper and so censure him, "growl" at him. Gundry suggests that Mark has used this particular verb to emphasise the forcefulness of Jesus' instruction that the leper should go immediately and show himself to the priest. The "strict injunction", Phillips, may be "don't tell this to anyone", v43, but is more likely "don't hang around here speaking about the healing, but go......" Jesus wants the leper to have his healing confirmed by the priest as quickly as possible so that he can return to his local community. Of course, we may be dealing with the messianic secret where Jesus downplays his miracles so as not to promote messianic fervour in the wider population, in which case, "don't tell anyone" is likely to be the sense of Jesus' instruction, cf., v45. On balance, it seems more likely that Jesus is encouraging the promotion of this sign by stressing the need to go to a local priest to confirm the healing. It is only after Israel rejects the gospel in word and sign, that Jesus resorts to preaching the gospel in riddles / parables, and attempts to lessen the impact of his miracles.

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - him. Dative of direct object after the en prefix verb "to sternly warn."


autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [and he says] to him. Dative of indirect object.

o{ra (oJraw) pres. imp. + subj. "see that" - Along with the negation mh, or its various forms, this construction serves to express a negative command; "See you say nothing to any man (to no one)", AV.

eiph/V (eipon) aor subj. "you [don't] tell" - [to no one] you say [nothing]. With the two negated adjectives mhdeni mhden, "to no one nothing", the verb serves as a subjunctive of emphatic negation, continuing the forcefulness of Jesus' instruction. The dative mhdeni, "to no one", serves as the dative of indirect object of the verb "to see."

alla "but" - Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ....., but .....".

deixon (deiknumi) aor. imp. "show" - show [yourself]. Lev.13:49. There is some debate over whether the leper is to show himself to a local priest, or a priest at the temple in Jerusalem. A local priest seems likely, given that there were some 20,000 living throughout Palestine, but the issue hangs on the Law's requirement: "your offer for cleansing of which Moses commanded", cf., Lev.14:1-32. The restoration of a leper to his community involves rituals and sacrifices spread over eight days, performed at the temple in Jerusalem, but the decentralisation of minor religious requirements is not uncommon, particularly for the poor.

tw/ iJerei (euV ewV) dat. "to the priest" - Dative of indirect object.

prosenegke (prosferew) aor. imp. "offer the sacrifices" - [and] bring, offer the sacrifices [which moses commanded]. Often "offer" in the terms of a sacrificial offering, so "the sacrifices" understood. For those who hold that offering a sacrifice is too specific, "take a gift to the temple as Moses commanded", CEV; "What Moses commanded", NRSV.

peri + gen. "for" - about. Here expressing reference / respect; "concerning, about, with reference to", but possibly advantage / representation, "for / on behalf of [your cleansing]."

sou gen. pro. "your" - [the cleansing] of you. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective.

eiV "as" - to = for [an evidence of what is witnessed or said]. Here adverbial, expressing purpose; "in order to prove to them that you are cured." As already noted, the "witness", possibly "proof", Cranfield, is probably not to the priest, but rather to the leper's neighbours. The word is used elsewhere with a negative connotation; a witness against those who reject Christ, cf., 6:11, 13:9, but this is probably not the sense here. Jesus' instruction is all about due process. The priest inspects the leper's body for open sores etc., and if healed, declares the leper clean. The leper then offers a sacrifice as instructed in Leviticus, which serves as "a witness" to "them", ie., the people, that he is clean and therefore may return to his community. "To prove to your neighbours that you are properly cured."

autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - Dative of interest, advantage, "a witness for his neighbours."


iv] Jesus' ministry continues by word and sign with ever-increasing popularity, v45. It is usually understood that the miraculous healing of the leper achieves its intended end; he becomes an enthusiastic witness for Jesus. Yet, Mark may be telling us that it is Jesus who now heads off to proclaim the good news of the coming kingdom. Whoever is doing the preaching, the results are dramatic. The crowds that seek out Jesus are so large that the local towns cannot contain them. Jesus is forced to stay in the countryside, and even then the people flock to him. So, Mark concludes this episode by again illustrating the personal magnetism and popularity of Jesus.

de "instead" - but/and. Usually treated as adversative, as NIV, although it is more likely transitional, indicating a step in the narrative; "now".

oJ ... exelqwn (exercomai) aor. part. "he went out" - the one having gone out, thrusted out, broken out. The article oJ is usually treated as the subject of the verb hrxato, "to begin"; "he began to preach = talk freely about his healing." In which case, the participle is attendant circumstance, expressing action accompanying the infinitival construction "began to preach"; "he went out and began to preach." Although it is nearly always presumed that the leper "went out", given that the grammar implies a change of subject, it is more than possible that Jesus is the subject, "now, the one going out began to preach much" = "now Jesus went out and began to proclaim ..... / now Jesus, having left the synagogue, began to preach ....." With this translation, the participle serves as a substantive.

khrussein pres. inf. "to talk" - [began] to preach, proclaim. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to begin". If it is the leper who goes out and begins to spread the news, then, although he is doing what Jesus does, he is not obeying Jesus' instruction. Of course, the account may be condensed and so, having received his medical discharge, he is now "spreading the word with much preaching." None-the-less, the preacher here is likely to be Jesus, and not the leper.

polla adv. "freely" - much. If Jesus is the preacher, the sense is possibly "many things", Guelich.

diafhmizein (diafhmizw) pres. inf. "spreading" - [and] to publish or spread widely, disseminate, communicate widely. The infinitive is complementary, "he began to preach much and to disseminate the word"

ton logon (oV) "the news" - the word. Accusative direct object of "began to spread around." The leper may just be speaking of his healing, but the word grouping implies the gospel, the message concerning the coming kingdom of God, the inauguration of the reign of God evidenced (signed) in the healing of a leper. Most commentators take the view that the leper is telling the "story / news", of his healing rather than proclaiming "the gospel". As noted above, it seems more likely that Jesus is the one "spreading the word / gospel far and wide."

wJste + inf. "as a result" - so that [he no longer to be able openly]. This construction, wJste + the infinitive, forms a consecutive clause expressing result, "so that". The infinitive here is usually treated as an auxiliary, verb, "was not able / could not", along with its complementary infinitive "to enter"; "could no longer appear in any town", Barclay.

eiselqein (eisercomai) aor. inf. "enter" - to enter. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "he was [no longer] able".

eiV + acc. "" - into [a city]. Spacial.

all (alla) "but" - Adversative, standing in a counterpoint construction; "no longer ....., but ....".

exw adv. "outside" - [he was] outside, out. Adverb of place.

ep (epi) + dat. "in" - upon. Spatial, with the sense of en, "in".

erhmoiV (oV) dat. "lonely" - deserted, wilderness, uninhabited [places]. "Wilderness" imagery may be intended, evoking a memory of the Exodus, but possibly just meaning "out in the country", NRSV. Even here, the crowds came to Jesus, so indicating his popularity.

hrconto (ercomai) imperf. "the people still came" - [and] they were coming [toward him]. An imperfective / durative sense is intended; "people kept coming to him from all over", Barclay.

pantoqen adv. "from everywhere" - on all sides, everywhere, from every part. Locative / adverb of place.


Mark Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]