The Cleansing Blood and Anointing Oil
See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them. Mark 1:44
Would you expect to find exciting news in Leviticus? That’s the book that prompts many of us to abandon our attempt to read the Bible from cover to cover shortly after we left Egypt with Moses in Exodus. Page after page of laws and rituals!
But comments by A. B. Simpson in a book about the Holy Spirit made me look more closely at Leviticus 14.* When a leper thought he had been healed, he presented himself to the priest and underwent an elaborate procedure before he was declared clean and permitted to live among others.
Sin, guilt, wave, and burnt offerings, with birds, animals, grain, blood and oil—were any of the offerings or anointing missing? The leper who had been healed needed all of them. The priest thoroughly examined him, bathed, shaved, and sprinkled him with blood. He put blood on his right ear lobe, his right thumb, and his right big toe. Anointing oil was applied in the same three spots, and poured on the head to complete the ritual.
What did it all mean? Leprosy was considered the most unclean of all diseases. Even if he no longer showed signs of disease, a person had to go through this procedure. The leper represents us in our lowest condition. We may look okay, but our hearts are deceitfully evil and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). We need the blood shed by Jesus Christ on the cross to touch every aspect of our lives: our ear—what we receive, our thumb—our service, our big toe—our walk through life.
After the blood, oil was applied. In the Bible, anointing with oil is associated with the presence of the Holy Spirit. As we look at the events in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we see this order. Only after Jesus paid for sin by dying on the cross could the Holy Spirit come and dwell in believers as He did a few weeks later at Pentecost.
No matter how bad our past, how foul we feel, Jesus Christ’s blood is enough to cleanse us completely forever.
Read Leviticus 14:1-32. How long did the whole cleansing procedure take? What provision was made for someone too poor to bring the needed sacrifices?
Read Mark 1:40-45. How did Jesus heal the leper? What did he tell him to do now that he had been cleansed? For what purpose? Have you been healed as a result of prayer? Have you testified about the source of the healing?
Charles Wesley might have been thinking of the cleansing of a leper in “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” when he wrote, “His blood can make the foulest clean,/His blood availed for me.” For more words to the hymn, go to: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/f/o/ofor1000.htm
Nancy J. Baker
* Simpson, A.B. The Holy Spirit, Volume 1 The Old Testament types and Symbols. Harrisburg: Christian Publications, no date given.