We see them every day. We pass them on the street, in the grocery store aisle, in the halls at school and at work. We don’t refer to them as dogs, but sometimes we might treat them as such. We may not call them unclean, but sometimes we’re unwilling to touch them. They’re the marginalized, the ostracized, the outcasts, the leftovers, and the left-outs. They’re the worldly, immoral, irresponsible, and irredeemable. Or are they?
When we pass by a mirror from time to time, we’re reminded that we not only used to live like them, we were them. Sometimes we still are them. But sometimes we forget. We forget that though they may seem like unclean dogs, like us, they’re people made in God’s image and in need of the forgiveness and healing that only Jesus can bring.
The good news for them and for us is that Jesus doesn’t merely heal us, he transforms us as we move through death into new life. In Mark chapter 5 Jesus essentially resurrects a man who had been enduring nothing short of a living death. Later in that chapter he heals a woman who had lived in an unclean state for 12 years. At the end of Mark 5, Jesus speaks words of life to a little girl who had tragically died at the age of 12. She’s resurrected and the unclean stain of death is removed. When one reads ahead to Mark chapter 7, the theme of uncleanness is again brought to the fore. As the Pharisees and scribes argue with Jesus about ritual purity and uncleanness, Jesus gets to the heart of the matter and reminds us that our inward lives have far more to do with our unclean states than our physical hygiene. Then he speaks words of grace to an unclean Gentile woman. Through these stories we’re reminded that though we all were once unclean, we can be made clean through God’s power initiated through the gospel of Jesus Christ! - Shay