and then Jesus, after sternly warning him, immediately sent him away,
the deed is done
now no lingering
now a next step
what we think is done
expects a confirmation
this leads beyond itself
this makes a difference
there is no wavering
a deal is struck
signed in honor
signed in blood
silence beyond a handshake
proclaims next obligations
As stern as “sternly” sounds it misses the original ἐμβριμάομαι (embrimaomai) sense of snorting like a warhorse.
Now we are beginning to see the drama and have to scratch our head about what gentle Jesus, meek and mild, is doing here. He is apparently still quite angry at this whole episode.
Is it as simple as Jesus is the one doing the traveling and the healing on his terms. This leper seems to have crossed some personal space boundary and gotten under Jesus’ skin.
So put upon, does Jesus touch and announce only because his mercy was called into question with the leper’s provoking question in verse 40? This is not the best motivation, but who is not to say that even as baptism for the remission of sin implies sin, that temptations were always successfully avoided.
The false image of an irenic healer needs a larger context or it is all too nice and neat. To read the G*D stories Jesus grew up on is to recognize that G*D’s steadfast love is neither an easy love or a hard love—it is a really engaged love that changes and is changed. This is not the last of the snorting Jesus will do with those who request a healing for themselves or someone else.
Jesus does not just feel some form of anger, but actually shows it. We know where the anger is focused, on the now clean leper. What we don’t know is what has been building within Jesus or was triggered in this particular case. Can you imagine that this leper was someone who bullied Jesus before he came into his purpose? Those old tapes were not as erased as thought and come back to put Jesus in another choice beyond healing or not—revenge or not.
How are you doing with this verse in your life? Has your ability to snort derisively been reduced in polite company?