11 Luke 5.12-16
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
In 1985, two men sent out 100’s of letters to photographers all over the world inviting them to participate in a unique challenge. They would be allowed to fan out all over the U.S. and take pictures that they think describes America. However, they would be given only one 24 hour period of time to do so.
Their photos would then be submitted and the best 250 eventually became book “A Day in the Life of America.” This book would tell the story of America shown only through pictures.
v The idea behind this monumental work is the truth of the idiom…
Ø A picture is worth a thousand words
§ And if you have ever seen this book, it is true!
· Beautiful pictures that truly describe America as never before.
v Before us today, Luke tells the simple story of a leper being healed by Jesus
Ø He tells it in a mere 128 words
§ But the picture that develops is much more vivid
· And tells a much richer story
v The first picture that develops is…
A Picture of Sinfulness (v. 12a)
v Luke tells us that while Jesus was in one of the towns…
Ø A man covered with leprosy approached him
§ GK = full of leprosy
· Luke a physician = technical term
¨ This man was covered, head to foot in leprosy
v Leprosy is a terrible disease
Ø Usually starts at the extremities
§ Fingers, toes, nose, eyes
· It slowly eats away until its victim is crippled and disfigured
Ø And in Scripture it many times is representative of sin
§ Probably because of the stories of…
· Miriam ~ Num 12:6-10
· Gehazi ~2 Kings 5:25-27
· Uzziah ~ 2 Chron 26:19
¨ All of which contracted leprosy as a punishment from Yahweh
Ø It does not mean that all people who had leprosy as a result of some sin
§ But if we look at leprosy, the effects mimic that of sin
Ø First of all…
§ It is deceptive ~ It is white
Ø Leprosy starts as innocent little white specs
A workman on a road construction crew was working on a project deep in the mountain area of Pennsylvania. Every morning as he drove to work in his pickup, he would see a young boy at a fishing hole near the road. He would wave and speak to the boy each day. One day, however, as he drove slowly past the fishing spot and asked how the boy was doing, he got a strange reply: "The fish aren't bitin' today, but the worms sure are."
When he pulled into the local gas station down the road a few minutes later, he jokingly related the boy's comment to the attendant. For a moment the attendant laughed, but then a look of horror crossed his face, and without another word he ran to his truck, jumped in, and drove away.
Later that day, the man on the construction crew found out what had happened. The gas station attendant had arrived on the scene too late to save the boy, who had somehow mistaken a nest of baby rattlesnakes for earthworms and had been bitten to death.
Baby rattlesnakes, you see, are born with their full venom. And so it is with the sins that tempt us. They may appear harmless, even colorful, yet they contain the full venom of Satan's poison and will destroy us if we handle them.
v So many times we think that these little sins that we commit have no effect
Ø They are small, minor infractions
§ “What harm could they do”, we say
· We must realize that they all have the full venom of Satan’s poison
Ø Sin is like leprosy in that…
§ Sin is numbing
· Numbs our consciences
¨ Scripture tells us that the more we sin, the less sensitive we are to it
Ø 1 Tim 4:2
§ Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron
¨ The more we sin, the easier it is to sin again
Ø Sin is like leprosy in that…
§ Sin slowly and progressively kills
The consuming, self-destructive nature of sin is like the technique used by Eskimos to kill wolves. First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed in a block of frozen blood.
Next the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare.
Feverishly now, harder and harder the wolf licks the blade in the arctic night. So great becomes his craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor-sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue, nor does he realize that his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own blood. The wolf continues to lick the blade through the night and as it does grows weaker and weaker. But his craving for the blood grows more and more until he drops dead from blood loss in the snow.
v Romans 5:12 tells us that the results of sin is death
Ø As with leprosy, if unchecked, sin slowly and progressively kills you
The second picture that comes into view in our text is…
A Picture of Humility (v. 12b)
v Our texts tells us that when the leper saw Jesus he fell at his feet with his face to the ground
Ø The Leper knew who Jesus was…God incarnate
§ And he realized how to approach God
· With humility on his knees, with his face in the ground
¨ Not even able to look at Jesus
Ø Hiding his face
Ø Just as Peter did in the boat
Ø Just like Moses did
Ø Just as Daniel did
Ø Just as Ezekiel did
Ø Just as John did
Ø Just as the seraphs did in Isaiah’s vision
v The leper came before Jesus in a humility that demonstrated a knowledge of not only where he was…
Ø In the presence of God Himself
v …But also the hope of what Christ could do for him
Ø Possibly the last hope that this leper had
v Ken Hughes (Pastor of church in Wheaton Ill)
Ø “Christ’s healing touch does not come in response to a casual, irreverent acknowledgement, it comes as we bow before Him in the realization that he is our only hope”
§ And that is what we must realize as well
· Too often we approach Christ too casually
¨ We come before him in supplication as our friend our buddy, our pal Jesus
Ø In other words…
§ On our terms
· Illust: Read an article about going on a date with Jesus
¨ We tend to want to relate to Him on our terms
Ø The leper realized who Jesus was and approached Him in the proper way
§ Not only in absolute Humility
· But with confident faith
And that is the third picture that comes into view…
A Picture of Faith (v. 12b)
v Look at what the Leper says to Jesus at the end of verse 12
Ø “If you are willing, you CAN / are able to make me clean”
§ Heb 4:16
· Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Ø The leper approached Jesus not only with the proper humility due God incarnate…
§ But also in confidence
· Confident faith in the promises found in Scripture
¨ Isa 35:5
Ø Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.
§ This leper knew the promises and stood on them
· That is why he qualified it with
¨ “If you are willing…”
· Luke 7:22 ~ Jesus quotes to John the Baptist’s disciples
¨ The Blind receive sight
¨ The lame walk
¨ Those with leprosy are cured
¨ The deaf hear
¨ The dead are raised
Houston pastor John Bisango describes a time when his daughter Melody, age five, came to him and asked for a doll house. John promptly nodded and promised to build her one, then he went back to reading his book. Soon he glanced out the study window and saw her arms filled with dishes, toys, and dolls, making trip after trip until she had a great pile of playthings in the yard. He asked his wife what Melody was doing.
"Oh, you promised to build her a doll house, and she believes you. She's just getting ready for it."
"You would have thought I'd been hit by an atom bomb," John later said. "I threw aside that book, raced to the lumber yard for supplies, and quickly built that little girl a doll house.
Now why did I respond? Because I wanted to? No. Because she deserved it? No. Her daddy had given his word, and she believed it and acted upon it. When I saw her faith, nothing could keep me from carrying out my word!”
Ø You see…
§ When Jesus saw the faith of this man
· “If you are willing, you CAN / are able make me clean”
¨ Nothing could keep Jesus from carrying out his word!
The 4th picture that develops before our eyes is…
A Picture of Willing Sacrifice (v. 13)
v Nobody could touch a leper because they would become unclean
Ø Lev 13
Ø Luke, as well as Matt and Mark, make a point of it that Jesus reached out and touched him
§ This is highly significant
· By doing so Jesus willingly became unclean
v This is a vivid picture of what Christ did for us
Ø 2 Cor 5:21
§ God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God
On August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines flight 225 crashed just after taking off from the Detroit airport, killing 155 people. One survived: a four-year-old from Tempe, Arizona, named Cecelia.
News accounts say when rescuers found Cecelia they did not believe she had been on the plane. Investigators first assumed Cecelia had been a passenger in one of the cars on the highway onto which the airliner crashed. But when the passenger register for the flight was checked, there was Cecelia's name.
Cecelia survived because, even as the plane was falling, Cecelia's mother, Paula Chican, unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecelia, and then would not let her go.
Nothing could separate that child from her parent's love, neither tragedy nor disaster, neither the fall nor the flames that followed, neither height nor depth, neither life nor death.
Such is the love of our Savior for us. He left heaven, lowered himself to us, and covered us with the sacrifice of his own body to save us.
v 1 Peter 2:24
Ø He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed
§ Jesus came and touched us and took our sin on himself
· So that we could be reconciled with God
And that is the last picture that develops from our text…
A Picture of Reconciliation (v. 14)
v A person with leprosy was cut off from all parts of society
Ø Considered unclean
§ Lev 13:45-46 ~ Had to cry out “unclean, unclean” wherever he when and live alone
v Think about that for a second…
Ø He would be cut off from…
§ His family
§ His friends
§ His profession
§ And most importantly…
· The Temple worship
¨ Unfortunately, today that does not mean too much
Ø If a church follows church discipline to its conclusion
§ The church is not to allow the person to fellowship or worship because of unrepentant sin
· No big deal, they just go to the church down the road, around the corner, in another town
v But for a person who was unclean, they had no other options
Ø The temple was the only place to worship!
§ You can imagine the joy of this leper when Jesus told him to go to the temple
· To be reinstated into the worshipping community
v You see…
Ø There was a ceremony that healed lepers had to go through
§ It is described in detail in Leviticus 14
· First two birds were presented
¨ One sacrificed and the other released smeared with the other’s blood
· Next healed leper was totally shaved from head to foot
· After that he was washed clean
· Then three lambs were sacrificed and the blood smeared on the cleansed leper’s right ear, thumb, and big toe
v We hear these Levitical rituals and we think…
Ø How crazy is that?
§ But to the trained eye, we get a wonderful picture of Christ’s reconciling work on our behalf
· The two birds represent you and Christ
¨ God’s wrath satisfied in Christ’s sacrifice
¨ In order for one to go free
¨ One must be sacrificed
· The shaving and washing of the leper is a brilliant picture of what Jesus said when teaching Nicodemus
¨ I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again
Ø Through shaving and washing…
Ø The leper is made to look like a newborn all over again
§ The leper, once dirty, rotting and dying is given new birth
§ Just as it is for you and me
· Eph 2:1 ~ We were dead in our trespasses and sins
¨ When we accept Christ. We are born again
· Finally, the blood of the three lambs is smeared on the leper’s right ear, thumb and toe
¨ Jesus came to be our sacrificial lamb
¨ A perfect lamb without blemish
¨ Whose blood cleanses use of our sin
¨ And reconciles us into a right relationship with God
Ø Rom 5:10-11
§ For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation
¨ We are reconciled with God and…
Ø The Blood on our ears allow us to Listen to God’s voice
Ø The Blood on our thumbs allow us to Use our hands for God’s glory
Ø The Blood on our toes allow us to Walk in the way of God
v And God offers this blood of reconciliation to anyone who will accept His son as Lord and Savior
Ø Jesus was the door of reconciliation for the Leper, and he knew it
§ And he is the door of reconciliation for you too
On display in St. Patrick's cathedral in Dublin hangs an ancient door with a rough hewn, rectangular opening hacked in the center. The door is called the "door of reconciliation" and the related Irish expression of "chancing one’s arm" come from it’s origin
In 1492, two prominent Irish families, the Ormonds and Kildares, were in the midst of a bitter feud. After years of bitter rivalry, the feud boiled down to one day when the Ormand family took refuge in St. Patrick’s cathedral. They proceeded to bolt themselves into the chapter room.
As the seige wore on, the Earl of Kildare concluded the feuding was foolish. Here were two families worshiping the same God, in the same church, living in the same country, trying to kill each other.
So he called out to Sir Ormond and offered a truce and, as an inscription in St. Patrick's says today, "undertook on his honor that he should receive no villanie."
Afraid of "some further treachery," Ormond did not respond. So Kildare seized his spear, cut a hole in the door, and thrust his hand through. It was grasped by another hand inside the church. The door was opened and the two men embraced, thus ending the feud. From Kildare's noble gesture came the expression "chancing one s arm.”
v God has “chanced his arm” by sending his son into the world to die for your and my sins
Ø The arm of Christ is extended to you today, right here, right now
§ If you do not know Christ, won’t you grasp the hand of reconciliation?
· "When a certain rhetorician was asked what was the chief rule of eloquence he replied, 'Delivery.' What was the second rule, 'Delivery.' What was the third rule, 'Delivery.' So if you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, first, second, third, and always I would answer, 'Humility.' "
· Jesus is our only hope
¨ 1 Tim 1:1
Ø Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope
§ The leper knew who Jesus was and knew the promises that were to accompany the Messiah
Ø Messiah was to be accompanied by certain signs
· These signs are given to us in Luke 7:22 (READ)
¨ Jesus here is just quoting OT Scripture as proof of who he is
v The Leper was certainly in a time of need
v understood this concept
Ø 2 Cor 5:18-19
§ All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them