Leprosy was a common skin condition at the time of Jesus. People thought that it was a contagious disease, and this led to leprosy sufferers being treated as social outcasts. As a result there were strict instructions in Jewish scriptures to try to stop the spread of the disease.
Jewish people believed that if you came into contact with a leper you would be ‘unclean’. Lepers were often forced to live in leper colonies and not allowed to come close to towns and villages. Jesus did not like that the law separated someone from society because they were ‘unclean’.
To try to combat this misconception, Jesus touched the man when healing him. This is the only time in Mark’s Gospel where Jesus heals out of pity, showing great compassion by touching the leper.
The leper showed great faith in Jesus’ ability to heal him. He said, “Sir, if you want to you can make me clean.”
After Jesus healed the leper, he gave him strict instructions to show himself to the priest to be examined and declared clean again, and not to tell anyone about the miracle.
In this miracle we see an example of the messianic secret .
This miracle teaches Christians that God is concerned about them and will reach out and touch them in times of need. It also reminds Christians that they themselves should be willing to reach out and care for all of those who are shunned by society or are outcasts today. For example, people with HIV/AIDS.