Day 048: Two Gospel Characters that Ignored Leviticus, and Why It Was Ok (Leviticus 14-15)

And he who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water, and he shall be clean. And after that he may come into the camp, but live outside his tent seven days. And on the seventh day he shall shave off all his hair from his head, his beard, and his eyebrows. He shall shave off all his hair, and then he shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and he shall be clean. (Leviticus 14:8-9)

28 But if she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. (Leviticus 15:28)

Both the laws concerning cleansing lepers (Leviticus 14) and the laws concerning a person cleansed from a bodily discharge (Leviticus 15) ordered a seven day waiting period after the cleansing before the one cleansed could rejoin society. I suppose that makes sense. People wanted to make sure the person was actually cleansed. We understand that better than ever in the Covid era, don’t we? We get a period of self-isolation after exposure to an infected person. We have uttered the words “Out of an abundance of caution…” more times in the past couple of years than we ever thought we would.

If there is any doubt about the completeness of the healing, you err on the side of caution.

But now, fast forward a few thousand years. Jesus is traveling on the border between Samaria and Galilee. He encounters ten lepers who beg to be healed. Jesus commands them to “‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed” (Luke 17:14)

I had always been critical of the nine that never returned. But because of today’s reading I can at least give them the benefit of the doubt that maybe they were just good, law abiding Jews, and they were observing the seven day waiting period. You know, just in case the healing wasn’t complete.

But the Samaritan either didn’t know about the seven day waiting period or didn’t care. From all we can see, he never made it to a priest to begin with. Instead he raced back to Jesus and fell at His feet in gratitude. Why?

Because he had no doubt that his healing was complete.

The same with the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5. She had been waiting twelve years for her bleeding to stop. Now, read the words of the Law in Leviticus 15 again. Only this time, read it as the daily catalog of shame, humiliation, rejection and isolation this woman dealt with for twelve years. Twelve years! Four thousand, three hundred and eighty days of:

Every bed on which she lay being “the bed of her impurity.”

Every chair on which she sat being unclean.

Everywhere she went, anyone who came in after her saying, “Did the Bleeding Lady sit here? She did??? Great. Now I’m unclean!

No wonder she tried to go unnoticed in the crowd! No wonder she tried to sneak up stealthily, and just touch the edge of His garment.

But, thank you Jesus, no wonder that “when she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease,” (Mark 5:29), she didn’t isolate herself for seven more days.

Instead, she came and fell at Jesus’ feet. Trembling, she told Him the whole truth. (Mark 5:33).

“Yes Lord,” she might have said, “I know the law says to wait in isolation for seven days. Forgive me Lord, but I have been in isolation for twelve years.”

And, oh my Jesus, thank You that You did not turn her away for the sake of the Law. Thank You that you knew your healing was full, and final, and absolute. Thank You for letting her wait be over.

Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.

Related Posts

Ten Lepers Left (A Poem)

Day 288: How I Love You (A Prayer of thanks from Mark 5)

Carry Me Home: A Poem for Ed

Late last night, I got the call that a beloved saint in my church had his homegoing. He had been fighting cancer for years, and last summer he told me that there weren’t any more treatments to try, and he was going to let the cancer run its course.

I’ve visited with Ed several times since then, and I’ve seldom seen anyone face death with such courage and hope. The first thing he showed me was his army uniform. As soon as he had made the decision to discontinue treatment, he had it cleaned and pressed so he could be buried in it. It was in the dry cleaner’s bag, hanging well apart from any other clothes so it wouldn’t get wrinkled. “It’s ready, whenever God calls me home.” he said. “And it still fits!”

I saw Ed for the last time the day before yesterday. He was in his recliner, which later that day would be replaced with a hospital bed. He apologized for not having his dentures in. “If I’d known you were coming, I would have put my teeth in,” he said with a smile.

“How are you, Ed?” I asked, smiling back at this brave, precious old man.

“I want to go home,” he said. “I’m ready. I have no regrets.”

So Ed passed away peacefully in his sleep last night. There is sadness, but there is also great joy. He is home.

This morning, I was reading in Genesis 47 about the oath Joseph swore to Jacob that Joseph would bury his father in the land of Canaan. I wrote this poem for my friend Ed.

Carry me up out of Egypt,
'Cause my body’s not at home here.
Too long I’ve lived in a foreign land
I can feel it in my bones here.

Carry me up out of Egypt,
'Cause Pharaoh's making slaves here.
He took their silver, land, and lives
And he'll do the same with us here.

Carry me up out of Egypt;
The Nile is okay here
But over Jordan is my true home,
And I just don't wanna stay here.

Carry me up out of Egypt
Swear an oath to me here.
'Cause Egypt's sure to get in us
The longer that we be here.

Day 320 (again): Pentecost: A Poem

Pentecost, by Jen Norton. Available on her website at

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)

It came like a rushing wind; like a fire-tipped mountain;
From above, like what tore the temple veil in two
We all felt it—knock-kneed, slack-jawed, and speechless
Speechless, that is, till we weren’t.

Then suddenly new words filled our mouths 
like the bread of angels
It was Babel gone backwards, the curse in reverse.

Israel scattered was Israel gathered once more.
In one voice, in many tongues, we proclaimed one message.

The fire fell, and tears and words and joy and fear and awe commingled,
The prophets looked on from their side of the veil and said, 
“This is what we saw. This is what we meant.”

When Icarus drew near the sun, 
He fell with melted, fatal wings.
The day the fire fell, the Son drew near to us—
And we all rose on wings like eagles,
To fly, unbounded, to the ends of the earth.

Day 365: Four Gardens (a poem from the Garden Tomb)

41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 
John 19:41

Through the Bible: Revelation 19-22

I wrote this poem in February, 2022, on the way back to the airport after a week in Israel. The day before, we had started the day at the Garden of Gethsemane, and ended the day at the Garden Tomb. Our pastor for the trip shared that John’s gospel is the only one that mentions that the tomb was in a garden. He helped me see that God’s great story begins and ends in a garden. We fell in Eden. We will be with God forever in the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 22:1-2). And what guarantees our entry into the new Garden after being driven from the old one are the two gardens we had visited the day before. .

Four Gardens

Once, in the cool of the day, God walked into a Garden; 

Where a serpent hissed, 
and man hid, 
and half eaten fruit lay fallen on the ground. 

Adam, where are You? said the Father. 
And the man was driven out of the Garden, 
head down, 

Once, in the dead of night, Jesus walked into a Garden; 

Where Judas lurked, 
and disciples slept, 
and sweat like blood fell to the ground.

Father, where are you? cried  the Son. 
And Jesus was led out of the Garden, 
head down, 

Once, at the dawn of the morning, Mary walked into a Garden; 

Where angels sat, 
and rocks were split, a
nd soldiers fell stunned on the ground.

Jesus, where are You? Said Mary. 
And the angel said, He is not here. He is risen. 
And Mary ran from the Garden, 
Head spinning, 

Soon, at the last trumpet, I’ll stand at the gate of a Garden;

Where water of Life bubbles, 
the Tree of Life blooms, 
and paving stones  like gold lie shimmering on the ground. 

“There you are!” cries the Son
“Here You are,” weeps His child
And I am led into the Garden, 
Head high, 

Day 301: Ten Lepers Left (Luke 17:11-19)

Ten Lepers, by James Christensen

15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19)

Through the Bible: Luke 16-17

I wrote this poem several years ago, but updated it and used it in a sermon I preached.. A few folks have asked for it, so here it is. It is based on the story of the ten lepers Jesus healed in Luke 17:11-19.

Ten lepers walked the city streets,
and stopped to hear the preacher preach

So close to death, all pride was stripped,
Nothing to lose; so those with lips
Called, “Jesus, help us out a bit?”

“Go, show yourselves unto the. priests,”
He said, they scattered, west to east
Their skin, with cleansing fire burned
Ten lepers left, but one returned.

One day, just to pass the time,
I thought about the other nine.
What did they do? Where did they run?
No idea, but just for fun,
Let’s imagine, one by one:

First, there’s Leper Number One
Who took off in an all out run.
Her feet, now free from open sores
Ran like they’d never run before.

Poor old leper number Two
Had no idea what he should do.
So he, so scarred from being shunned
Went home, locked up, and saw no one.

Then there’s leper Number Three
For whom sickness became security
For years, defined by leprosy
Till it became identity
Healed, became a bitter man
And wished he could get sick again.

That accounts for three who were healed that day
Ten lepers left, no lepers stayed.

The fourth one wasn’t very clever,
And made no changes whatsoever.
In tattered clothes, can still be seen
Through perfect lips, still shouts “Unclean.”

Five and six found love along the way.
Ran off, got married that same day.

So that makes six accounted for
One returned, that leaves three more.

And of those three, there were the two
That wrote “Life from a Leper’s Point of View.”
They gained great fame in lecture halls,
Signed copies of their books in malls.
And on the Oprah Winfrey Show,
Oprah said, “We want to know,
To what do you attribute health?”
“From within,” they said. “We healed ourselves.”

Nine believed prosperity
Should replace his leprosy
With brand new car, and boat, and house
He’s out there living his best life now.

Ten lepers took their separate tracks
Ten lepers left, but one came back.

Came back and fell at Jesus’ feet,
Stayed back to feel His touch so sweet;
To thank Him for the gift he gave,

Ten lepers cured, one leper saved.

One more thought, and then we're through:
Ten lepers left.
Which one are you?

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