Mark 1, Psalm 149


Reading familiar passages with unfamiliar translation choices can force us to pay attention to the details. Mark 1:41 tells us about Jesus' emotional state before performing one of many miracles revealing His character and purpose. The only problem is, our translations disagree on exactly what Jesus feels. Typically the versions (e.g. ESV, HCSB, NASB) translate Jesus' emotional response to the leper's request for healing as, “moved with pity” or some other approximate translation. The NIV, however translates it, “Jesus was indignant”. That is a pretty significant difference. I don't have space to adjudicate the reasons for the translator's choices (both have good rationale), and I also don't have time to explore what Jesus would have been indignant about. Certainly the fact Jesus did the healing shows that he wasn't indignant at the leper, but at something else. Additionally, however we translate this word doesn't change the meaning of this verse as much as we might think. Compassion (literally “to suffer with”) often means indignation at whatever is causing the suffering for the ones we love. For Jesus to have compassion or mercy on this man, means that he is serious about ridding him of the leprosy not to mention a deeper hatred for the sin that unleashed this leprosy in the first place. It is possible, and some theorize Jesus is angry about additional matters. What matters most to me is to remember Jesus is perfectly capable of holding both anger and compassion together without sinning (like he did before raising Lazarus). This is but one more indication in the first chapter of Mark that Jesus is peerless.