In the movie Papillon, the main character is trying to escape from a French prison. He is given sanctuary in a leper colony. The leader of the leper colony meets with Papillon to discuss Papillon’s predicament. The leper leader is smoking a cigar. He hands the cigar to Papillon and tells him to take a few puffs. Papillon is at first put off because to touch the cigar – with his lips no less – will likely transmit the dreaded disease to Papillon. Yet he takes the cigar and puffs away. The leper then asks Papillon, how he knew the strain of leprosy the leper had was not contagious. Papillon replies that he didn’t know. He was just that desperate for help. Papillon would rather have leprosy and be free. This is a bit of a reversal of the story we hear in Mark 1 where we find Jesus healing a leper. The leper appears desperate for help. He asks Jesus to make him “clean”. Jesus does, by touching he leper. Did Jesus know the “leprosy” was not contagious? Maybe, but the fact remains that when Jesus touched the man, Jesus was rendered unclean as well. Jesus was willing to risk leprosy so this man could be free of an inapplicable religious tradition. Because it was not the contagious nature of the disease that rendered the leper unclean, but a religious tradition from ancient times. A religious tradition Jesus thus rejected. What does this rather short story in Mark mean to us in 2018? Come and hear about it on Sunday, January 21 at 8:30 and 11 at John McMillan Presbyterian Church when Pastor Jeff preaches “Be Clean” based on Mark 1: 40-45. See you then!