Jesus finishes an incredible message about the importance of the heart and as He leaves the mountain many people follow Him. There was something about Jesus that drew people to Him and I’m not sure that it is any big secret…people knew Jesus cared about them. The “religious crowd” only cared about whether or not everyone was following their rules, but Jesus obviously didn’t care about conformity to a man-made set of rules. Although in our modern day this religious crowd doesn’t exist in name, they do exist in practice. There are people in churches (or outside the church) all over the world who carefully scrutinize every move other Christians make and are quick to point out when someone doesn’t do things the way they think it should be done. They are more interested in following the rules than following Christ. Don’t get me wrong…there are rules, but rules without a relationship lead to rebellion. Jesus earned the right to speak truth into the lives of these people because they knew He cared about them. He wasn’t concerned about gaining a following of disciples who knew and followed the rules, but molding committed individuals who kept the rules because they knew the heart behind them. You see, it wasn’t a control issue with Jesus. He was not interested in developing puppets who would jump at His every command, but He desired (more than anything) that people would passionately love God and love others. Jesus demonstrates this principle through His actions…a leper appears from the crowd who had followed Him down from the mountain. You have to understand that lepers in that day were sort of like people with AIDS in our day. No one wanted to be around them – they were outcasts. The unwritten rules of Jesus’ day said to stay away from lepers, but Jesus didn’t care about the rules – He cared about people. This leper told Jesus that he knew He could heal him if it was in His plan (8:2). Mark writes that Jesus was “moved with compassion” and healed the leper. Do I have that same compassion for people?
Dear God, help me react with compassion toward others. Help me to forget about the “rules” in order to demonstrate the love of Christ to those who need You.