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Study in Luke’s Gospel Presentation 17

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Study in Luke’s Gospel. Presentation 17. The Willingness Of Christ Chap 5v12-16. Presentation 17. Introduction. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Study inLukes Gospel

Presentation 171

The WillingnessOf ChristChap 5v12-16Presentation 172

Presentation 17IntroductionOften elderly people express disappointment with the way some young people speak today. To cite just one example, they often confuse an ability to do something with a willingness to do something. So when they ask, Can you run me round to my friends house? they invariably mean is Will you run be round to my friends house? It is not their parents ability but willingness that forms the basis of their enquiry. The issue of willingness to help lies at the centre of our passage . All three synoptic writers record the healing of this particular leper. What makes his healing so important? What great lesson does it teach us about the ministry of Jesus? What significant application does this passage have for us today? These are questions we ask now.3

Presentation 17A Man With A ProblemWe have very little biographical information about the man who came to Jesus save that he was a leper. Luke, the doctor evangelist describes the advanced state of the disease, "he was covered with leprosy. The description Luke uses describes a disease that has gained the mastery over the human frame. The Rabbis taught that the disease was humanly incurable. The law of God forbade physical contact with such a man because of the contagious nature of the disease. And so here we have a man who knew what it was to be ostracised by society.4

Presentation 17A Man With A ProblemIt is probably true to say that leprosy in that age provoked the same kind of frightening response in society that Aids does today. The basic difference being that mere physical contact with an Aids sufferer does not communicate the disease. Try to place yourself in this mans position. Not only have you been told that you have an incurable disease. But you know that the very nature of your disease means you will be held at arms length by society and even more heart-rending, your family will not be able to come near you. In the throes of death there will be no friend to comfort, no human kindness, no support, no loving compassion, only an overwhelming sense of abandonment.5

Presentation 17A Man With A ProblemThink of what that kind of self-awareness does to a person psychologically. Being branded the off scouring of society does very little for a person's self-worth and self-esteem. It can produce not only a broken spirit but also a cynicism and disillusionment which in turn views the whole world as hostile. So much so that it is hard to believe in the existence of kindness and compassion they seem like empty meaningless words. In this condition it becomes increasingly more difficult to relate to others, to unburden ourselves to others, to believe that we will find others who will love us for our own sake.6

Presentation 17A Man With A ProblemThe experience of this man is not something held in a time warp belonging to a period of time 2000 years ago. This is a present day experience. Two boys were haemophiliacs as a result of being given contaminated blood and as a result they became infected by aids. The boys did not know what hit them when their friends shunned their company and treated them like fairground freaks. The parents of the children attending the same school as the boys threatened to keep their own children away from school if the two boys with aids continued to attend school. 7

Presentation 17A Man With A ProblemWe do not have far to turn to meet someone who has experienced some degree of ostracisation: the alcoholic, the unmarried mother, the mentally ill, the person guilty of some notorious sin. These individuals often know what it is like to be treated as social lepers. They know what it is to live with estrangement.But there is a far wider application even than this. Leprosy in the Bible is often used to illustrate spiritually the effects of human sin and guilt. Sin is a "disease" more destructive than leprosy and something that lies beyond the power of human help and cleansing. 8

Presentation 17A Man With A ProblemShakespeare grasped the immensity of the problem. Recall the words of McBeth after he murdered Duncan? Looking at his blood-stained hands he asks, "Can all great Neptune's oceans wash away this blood?. He knew in his heart no human cleansing agent could ever deal with his sin and grant him peace. Sin estranges us from fellowship with God and has an increasingly destructive effect in our lives. All men, like this leper, have need of a cleansing which no human agency can accomplish.9

Presentation 17A Request With A QualificationDespite the leper's experience of estrangement and the mental scarring produced by constant rejection, he broke with all the accepted conventions and the prohibitions of the Mosaic Law and rushed into the company of Jesus. Why? He believed that Jesus was able to meet his need. The Jews believed that the Messiah when he came would be able to cure leprosy. When John the Baptist depressed by his imprisonment sent messengers to Jesus to inquire, if he had been correct to identify Jesus as the Messiah. 10

Presentation 17A Request With A QualificationJesus replied. "Go back and report to John what you hear and see. The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor. Matt.11v4ffNow clearly, the leper in our story believed that Jesus was the Messiah with the power to do what no other man could do for him. Of all the leper's in Israel here was one who was not content to submit to his foul condition. Instead, he was determined to do something about it.11

Presentation 17A Request With A QualificationHowever, the request the leper makes though it demonstrates faith in the ability of Jesus, nevertheless is uncertain of his mercy. It is a request with a qualification, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean". This is surely not merely the language of submission. The leper was correct in believing that healing was not a right he could claim or a blessing he had earned, or indeed, that there was any obligation on the part of Jesus meet his need. 12

Presentation 17A Request With A QualificationThis man is unsure of his worth and value, society had devalued him. Would Jesus consider him worth helping? Many people consider themselves to be small fry, too unimportant for Jesus concern. But Jesus the fisher of men never throws back the minnows. He says, "Whoever comes to me I will in no wise cast out," Jn.6v37. Are you uncertain of the willingness of Jesus to help you? The sore experience of rejection by the society of which we are a part or even worse in the church fellowship of which we are a member can profoundly colour our expectations and understanding of Jesus.13

Presentation 17A Saviour With A SolutionThe leper may well have been tentative and unsure but the reply of Jesus was unequivocal, "I am willing, he said, "be clean". How we need to open our eyes to the willingness of God to stretch out towards us in our need.Francis of Assisi tells us that it was the response of Jesus towards this leper that was the means of changing the whole direction of his life. We read that in v13 that "Jesus stretched out his hand and touched the man". Can you imagine what that touch meant to a man who for years had seen the great lengths people would go to in order to avoid any physical contact with him. 14

Presentation 17A Saviour With A SolutionNot long after the Aids scare first hit Britain Princess Diana visited an Aids ward and reached out and touched some of the aids victims whom others in society had gone to great lengths to avoid. She of course had medical assurance that it was safe for her to do so. But that touch meant a great deal to Aids patients around the world.Jesus was doing something infinitely greater than that. He did the unthinkable. Jesus disregarded the Jewish ceremonial law and touched a man who was contagious to the touch. Not that Jesus thought the law unimportant but it was in this instance displaced by a higher law, the law of love. 15

Presentation 17A Saviour With A SolutionJesus did something very simple for this man but you can be sure that it meant more to him than words could express. In that touch Jesus was doing much more than healing his leprosy. He was showing his love, not a gooey sentiment but a willingness to identify himself with his broken and disfigured humanity.One of my abiding memories from childhood was hearing a soloist in church describing this incident in song; with the repetitive refrain in the chorus "HE TOUCHED ME". It spoke of a Jesus who reached down to identify with and deal with a world of human need. 16

Presentation 17A Saviour With A SolutionThere is a sense in which Jesus touched not just a sick man but a sinful humanity when as our representative upon the cross, he bore the punishment in his own body which rightfully belonged to those he represented.Isaiah writes:Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God and afflicted, But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed. Isa 53v417

Presentation 17A Saviour With A SolutionThe history of the Christian church is a history of men and women, who are able to say, "He touched me". The Jesus who cleansed the leper is the Jesus who cleanses us of the moral leprosy of our sin. When the guilt-ridden man discovers peace with God he is able to say, "He touched me". When the man whose life has been scarred by sin finds that emotions are healed he is able to say, "He touched me"....18

Presentation 17A Saviour With A SolutionJesus told the healed leper to do two things. First he was to keep his healing secret. Why? Jesus did not want his office to be reduced to that of a mere miracle worker and wonder healer. He did not want to be so hounded by those who love to gawk at the spectacular that he had no time to proclaim the good news of the kingdom. The healing which was the priority of Jesus mission was not physical healing but spiritual healing, not merely to restore men to physical wholeness but to spiritual wholeness. In some church circles it is considered more important to see spectacular healings than to hear the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins, and of reconciliation with God. They have failed to learn from J's priorities!19

Presentation 17A Saviour With A SolutionThe second thing the healed leper is told to do is to offer the appropriate sacrifices as laid down in the Law of Moses for his cleansing. In other words he is encouraged in his religious duty. If this is what the Law of Moses called for by way of response to physical healing what ought the response be of those whose hearts have been cleansed of the guilt and stain of sin? The sacrificial system was brought to an end in the death of Christ. However, Paul calls upon those who have experienced God's salvation to offer their bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. In other words to consecrate their lives to God's service, to live for him and serve him with all their hearts. Is that really too generous a response to make for who have experienced the healing touch of Jesus in their lives? 20