Jesus Cleanses a Leper
12 While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy.[a] And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 13 And Jesus[b] stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
MacArthur compares leprosy with AIDS to give us a glimpse of what it was to people of that time:
There are many diseases today. Perhaps we know of more of them, pathologically and clinically, certainly than any time in human history. But of all the diseases that we face in our modern world, none is more dreaded, none is more feared and none is more stigmatized than AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Its closest parallel in the ancient world was leprosy. In its severest form it was the most feared disease. It was contagious, incurable, for the most part, fatal. It devastated people. I had immense social implications and even religious implications.
MacArthur explains why miracles such as healing are so important to show who Jesus was:
Luke writes about this and many other miracles, as do the other gospel writers, because miracles are essential to the scriptural record to identify Jesus as God. He does what man can't do. He does what doctors can't do. In fact, the miracle record of Jesus is essential to the Christian faith because these are the proofs of His supernatural divine nature. If He is not supernatural, tear up your New Testament. The Christian faith becomes inexplicable on any legitimate grounds, it's fantasy or it's outright deception. But because the miracles did happen, they are true, He is God, and He is our Redeemer.Jesus is our Redeemer. He can heal us from our sickness, from our despair, and most importantly from our sin which is our separation from God.
Isn't it true that healing from sin is what each of us desperately needs? Couldn't this story from Luke read like this?
12 While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of SIN And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 13 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the SIN left him. 14 And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their SIN. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
It is a miracle to be healed from an illness but it is insane that God's grace and forgiveness of sin can heal us from the power of sin. It is beyond a miracle and God gives it freely to those who ask, just like the leper did. He asked, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean" and Jesus does.
For us too, it is as easy (or as hard) as asking for forgiveness. It is through our forgiveness that we act in a new way, and we don't even have to say anything with our words and people still notice something different about us...word gets around....people start asking questions and want that kind of healing for themselves too.
MacArthur reminds us that sinners need healing:
He comes desperate, the end of his rope, if you will. All shame is gone. All fear is gone. There is a desperate boldness. Nowhere else to turn. No hope anywhere. The worst that can happen is maybe welcomed. If you don't heal me, I'll die. That would be better than this. This is the sinner's extremity. This is the sinner's desperation. This is the sinner pounding his breast in Luke 18.
He comes reverently, the sinner does. He comes reverently, falling on his face with no rights and desperate needs. When I talk to people about coming to Christ, I simply tell them, "You need to ask the Lord to be merciful and save you. That's up to Him." I can't tell you that you can say a few words, pray a little formula and you're going to be saved. All I can tell you is if you understand the gospel, in your heart you believe it, you cry out to Him to save You. He is the sovereign and you bow humbly as that man who beat his breast wouldn't lift up his eyes but fell prostrate. That's how you come.
This man was also urgent, begging, pleading. That's how the sinner comes.
Humbly, realizing you have no claim to lay on Jesus. You have nothing to commend you.
And the sinner comes with faith. This is a beatitude attitude. This is what it means to be poor in spirit. This is what it means to be meek. This is what it means to hunger and thirst after righteousness. This man is a classic analogy to the penitent sinner.
So he came. And verse 13 says, "And He being Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him saying, 'I am willing. Be cleansed," or "Be clean and immediately the leprosy left him." Mark 1:41 adds that Jesus felt compassion. And when somebody comes in true penitence to the Savior, He feels that compassion as well. That compassion came out of that man's genuineness. Jesus could see his desperation. He could see his reference. He could see his urgency. He could see his humility. He could see his faith. And He healed him. That's like the desperate sinner.
He healed this man. He heals him, stretching out His hand touched him. He did this very often. When Jesus healed, He healed with a touch. Contrary to Leviticus 5:3 which says never touch a leper, Jesus stepped right past that law because when He touched him he wasn't a leper anymore. The touch was compassion, yes, but it was also connection because it was very clear when the healing came whose hand was on him. It was also clear who the Healer was.
May we humbly bow before the Great Healer and receive healing that we need.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 5:17-20
Great post! It was interesting to read those verses again substituting sin for leprosy.
Great post Pam, thanks.
I love the fact that Jesus healed this man with a touch. How long had it been since anyone had touched him? How long since he'd felt the touch of a loved one? Probably years! Can you even imagine what he must've felt as he saw Jesus reaching his hand TOWARDS him? And then the moment he actually felt flesh on flesh? Incredible!
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