God's Love On Display
Good morning! Welcome to Fox Valley Christian Church.
Happy New Year! I mentioned this last week, but I have a completely different New Year’s Resolution this year than I have ever had before. Sometimes I go all out and I create a plan for how I am going to get physically healthy or how I am going to be a better husband or father. Sometimes the New Year comes and goes and I don’t do anything at all.
This year, as the New Year approached, I began to get an overwhelming feeling that I have been misfiring with my New Years Resolutions. In this life, I have one purpose, I have one mission, I have one reason for being here. That is to know God and to make Him known. That’s it. And everything I do either increases my ability and my success at knowing God and making Him known or it doesn’t.
Well what about being a good husband and good father? Are those bad things? Absolutely not! I cannot truly be a good father or a good husband if I am not deepening my relationship with Christ, if He is not living and producing through me. I am not really loving my family if I am not leading them to know Christ.
What about the desire to be more healthy? Is that bad? No. In fact, God calls me to be a good steward with the resources that He has given me. The money I have, I am supposed to make it the most effective I can for His kingdom. The same goes with my physical body. If I am able to increase the effectiveness, energy, and timespan that my physical body is able to be here and do mission … and it is not causing me to be a bad steward with the other resources He has given me … time, money, relationships, etc. … then I should strive to be more healthy so I think more clearly and have the energy and extended time to be on mission for Him.
So to that end, I have decided that this year my resolution is to be more effectively on mission for God this year than I was last year. To know Him more, to make Him known to more people, and to make the decisions necessary in my life so that I may continue to be more effective each year in the mission He has called me to.
I have begun to look at my life, each area and ask, “Is this helping me to know God or make Him known?”
I also started looking at my personal evangelistic strategies. Or a better way to say that might be, I began looking at what I am currently doing to make God known to people that might not currently know Him.
What am I currently doing? What do I see that Jesus did? What changes do I need to make?
I want to have an intentional GamePlan for making God known. As I started looking at Jesus, I noticed that there were certain patterns that He had. Certain foundation elements to His evangelism. And if I wanted to reach people how Jesus reached people, then I should try to have these same benchmarks in my personal outreach strategies.
Over the next 4 weeks, we are going to look at each one of these as we develop our personal GamePlan’s to making God known.
What about if you don’t know God?
What if you don’t have a relationship with God, so as of right now you have no plan to make Him known? I get that. I am fully aware that not everyone in this room knows God. That is why it is our aim to make Him known. But what I hope you see over the course of these next four weeks is that just because you don’t know God, that doesn’t mean that He sits back and waits for you to seek Him.
God is pursuing you. And the same benchmarks that should be in our ministry … God is already living them out in your life right now. Whether you recognize it or give Him credit for it. My hope is that over the next four weeks that as you begin to see how God works in the lives of those He pursues … that you will begin to see how God is already working in your life.
My family has been sick these last few weeks. Just some really heavy chest colds. If you noticed last week I was extremely dependent on my bottle of water and trying really hard not to cough into the microphone.
Because of this, our house has been on lockdown procedures. No drinking out of the same cup as anyone else, make sure that you are extra washing your hands, and no kisses on the lips.
Confession, I am not good at that last rule. When the kids are sick, I don’t care how bad it is. I don’t care what is wrong with them. When I lay them down for bed, I give them hugs and I give them a quick kiss goodnight. If I get sick, I get sick. Why do I do that? It’s simple really. Because when I was sick, my parents would always throw caution to the wind to let me know they loved me. They never let that get in the way of letting me know they love me. I have been sick. I have been the one that people shy away from, put a hand up, cover there mouths not to get my sickness. But I always knew that my parents would draw me in close. They would wrap their arms around me, they would let me sleep with my head on the chest knowing that they were breathing in the same air that was mixed with the air I was breathing out.
They always went the extra mile to let me know they love me. And not just when I am sick.
My parents still to this day will sacrifice so that I know they love me. Jen and I need someone to watch our kids Friday night. So my parents said they would take them. What started with one day, turned into 4 days. Then they had to take a last minute trip to KY and if they had to do it with the kids, then they had to bring their 15 passenger van and that it just too big of a convenience. But you know what? That’s exactly what they did.
Love is a funny thing. I can tell you I love you, but on it’s own, those words don’t mean anything. You know I love you by what I do for you. You know I love you by what I don’t do because of you. You know I love you by how I sacrifice for you.
The first benchmark in Jesus’ ministry is that Jesus displayed God’s love.
Today we are going to look at one of the moments in Jesus’ ministry where God’s love was on full display through Jesus.
40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
In order to understand fully what is going on here, we first need to get a better understanding for leprosy and a better understanding as to how leprosy was viewed at that time.
What we call leprosy now, would not be the same disease that is being referred to in scripture. When scholars look at Leviticus 13 and 14 and other areas of scripture where they describe leprosy, the descriptions do not match with the skin condition that we modernly call leprosy.
Instead, Biblical leprosy could be best understood as referring to severe and serious skin conditions. Skin conditions that were so severe, lepers had to live outside of town and in their own communities.
45 “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ 46 He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.
When they would approach people, they had to shout “unclean, unclean” as a warning to others. In the same way a truck beeps when it backs up a leper had to get accustomed to shouting “unclean, unclean” for all to hear as they approached.
Imagine that for a moment. Imagine what that would do to your self worth. You didn’t have to worry about what names anyone would call you or what they would say about you. You already knew, you are unclean. And you didn’t just know it, but you had to be always ready and prepared to broadcast this fact about yourself.
We try to hide the fact that we are unclean. We have these personal, private sins. We don’t want people to know about them. So we go about life masking our sins and trying to give a public perception that we have it all together. Imagine though that people were able to see all of your baggage. They could see all of your sin on full display. And not just see it, but when ever you approached people you had to shout “unclean, unclean” so that they could turn their eyes to you and see the worst of you.
The Leper’s Plea
The Leper’s Plea
So here we have Jesus. He is knew to the ministry scene, but He is like no other Rabbi. He is literally going from town to town healing people and casting out demons. The sick and sinners are being brought to Him. All sorts of unclean and Jesus is healing them with authority.
This news begins to spread and we are not sure how the leper heard about Jesus or what he was doing when he first found out that he had a chance to be clean. He had a chance to be rid of this disease that had made him and outcast.
This disease that Leviticus describes as swellings in the body, eruptions from the skin, spots. These eruptions would spread across the body. A leper was marked as unclean when raw flesh appeared on them. Open sores and wounds. Causing the flesh to discolor and disfigure.
Oh to know the one that could take this away from me and make me clean.
Luke in his account informs us that Jesus was in a city at the time. So here is Jesus, in the city, and this leprous man approaches Him. He most likely was shouting “unclean, unclean” as he made his way toward Jesus. Jesus whom people had been flocking to, bringing their sick was most likely crowded by others that heard the shouts and quickly began making a path.
As the leprous man approaches Jesus we are told that he knelt before Jesus and “implored” Him. “If you will, you can make me clean.”
This was outrageous. This was unheard of and it was, at the time, illegal. Because at the time Jesus was doing ministry, the Rabbis (the teachers) had added their own rules and their own laws to God’s.
If a leper stuck his head inside a house, the whole house was unclean. It was illegal to greet a leper. Lepers had to remain at least 100 cubits away (150 feet) if they were upwind and 4 cubits (6 feet) if downwind. Josephus, the Jewish Historian said that they were treated “as if they were, in effect, dead men.”
This leper got the courage to enter town, fall to the feet of Jesus, and ask to be healed.
What is your condition?
What is your condition?
This leper, he knew his condition. He knew that he was unclean. He knew that he was basically a dead man walking.
What is your condition?
The spiritual reality is that we are all spiritual lepers.
10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
The difference is, we don’t all recognize our sin. We don’t recognize our sinful condition. We don’t recognize our need for a Savior.
Lady Huntington, an English religious leader who played a prominent part in the religious revival of the 18th century, once invited her friend, the Duchess of Buckingham, to hear George Whitefield preach. The Duchess replied, “It is monstrous to be told, that you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches that crawl the earth.” She went on to say that it is “highly offensive and insulting” and she can’t imagine why Lady Huntington would even think that with her standing that this could even remotely be true.
It is highly offensive and insulting to be told that you are a sinner. It is highly offensive and insulting to be told your heart is sinful. But it’s true and deep down you know it. Deep down, God created us to have this sense of His justice and to know that we have these sins that we have these things that are creeping into our life and infecting it.
What is your condition? Can you see the spots in our life? Can you see where the infection is starting or where it is growing or where it has completely over taken your life?
The leper knew his condition, this is what drove Him to the feet of Jesus. He knew that he was in need of someone to make him clean. Is that you?
If so, I want you to take note of how Jesus responds to this man with leprosy.
The ESV says that Jesus was “moved with pity.”
The NIV says that Jesus was “indignant.”
The NASB says that Jesus was “moved with compassion.”
That seems like a pretty significant translation difference. “moved with pity,” “indignant,” and “moved with compassion.” How are we to understand this, was it pity, indignation, or compassion that lead Jesus to heal this leper?
So this is an oddity in scripture that is best understood when we understand how the Bible is translated. So we are going to get a little technical here, but I think it is important.
We have over 5,800 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, 10,000 Latin manuscripts, and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages. No other ancient book even comes close to this amount of manuscripts. This overwhelming amount of manuscripts help us in our particular study today.
The word that is being used to be translated as “pity”, “compassion”, and “indignation” is not the same word in every manuscript. There actually are two different words that are used. Some manuscripts have the word splagchnizomai (splangk-nid-zom-eye), the other manuscripts have the word orgizo (or-gee-zoe).
Splagchnizomai - meaning “moved with pity”
Orgizo - meaning “moved with anger”
Well, it would appear then that the ESV and the NASB must believe that the correct word in the original manuscript was Splagchnizomai. Not the case! If you pull up both of those translations and look at the manuscripts they were translated from, both of them agree that the original manuscript would have had the word orgizo, meaning moved with anger.
Scholars agree based on the evidence in the manuscripts that orgizo is the appropriate word and when we look at scripture orgizo is always translated as anger … that leads us to two important questions:
- What was Jesus angry at?
- Why did the ESV and the NASB choose to translate that word to be “pity” or “compassion”?
Let’s start with the first question. What was Jesus angry at?
Jesus has this man that is riddled with a skin disease. This man that is living in anguish. This man that has not experienced physical touch in who knows how long. This man that if he had a family has not felt the touch of his wife or his children since contracting this disease. Jesus sees this man that has been ostracized from his community. New rules and regulations have caused this man to feel anything but loved.
And Jesus knows that all of this is because of one reason and one reason only. Sin. Jesus, in the beginning, created the world. It was good and it was perfect. This skin disease and the emotional and mental distress that this man has endured was never part of the plan. But sin has infected the world like a disease, festering, and Jesus is face to face with one of the results and He is mad.
Jesus Hates Sin
Jesus Hates Sin
Jesus Hates Sin
He hates sin. He hates that it is an attack on God and He hates what it does to us.
I am an ESV person. I love the ESV translation. But I think that the NIV nails it on the head here when it says that Jesus was indignant.
Indignant - feeling or showing anger or annoyance at what is perceived as unfair treatment.
Jesus loves this leper so much that He hates what sin has done to this man’s life.
Jesus loves you so much that He hates what sin has done to your life.
Sin is like this infectious skin disease. Actually the Bible commonly uses leprosy as a metaphor for sin. Because that’s what sin does. It starts small and if untreated it begins to eat away at the skin. Marks show up, then boils, then the boils begin to overtake us completely.
Luke when describing this leprous man said he was a man “full of leprosy.” It had completely overtaken him.
I asked you earlier if you knew your condition. If you recognized your sin.
How do you feel about your sin? Do you hate it? Do you tolerate it? Do you make excuses for it? Do you think that it is not as bad as others and it could be worse? Do you enjoy it?
See that is what is so scary about sin. Many people, they enjoy sin. Many good people who know God, enjoy sin. That’s why you keep sinning. You sin because you want to. You sin because you like it.
Sure, afterward there is regret and remorse. Sure guilt eventually sets in. Sure you feel the negative effects of sin like it is leprous, but you keep going back to it because you like it.
One of the keys to ridding our lives completely of sin is to have our hearts transformed so that we have the heart of Christ. So that we love how He loves, we love what He loves, and we hate what He hates.
One of the greatest ways that we can make God known is to display His love into the lives of those around us. And one of the greatest ways to display the love of God is to hate sin.
Please understand, I am absolutely not saying to hate the sinner. We love them. And we love them so much that we hate the sin in their lives. We recognize the effect of sin and we hate it. It infuriates us and we are indignant toward it.
Have you ever been talking to someone that has a booger hanging half out of their nose? I am sure you have. We all have. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was the someone you were talking to or I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I am not that someone. Why? Because it happens to the best of us.
So you are talking to this person and they have this booger hanging out of their nose. What do you do? You tell them right? Maybe. For many of us, it depends on who it is.
I don’t want to embarrass them. They have a booger hanging out of their nose, if you don’t tell them you are letting them show it to more people and lead to more embarrassment.
I don’t want them to be upset with me for pointing it out. They have a booger hanging out of their nose. If it was me, I might be upset if I knew you knew and didn’t tell me.
But if that is your spouse, your child, your parent … you tell them. Why? because you love them.
So how do you tell them?
Do you call them out publicly in a crowd? Do you laugh and humiliate them? Do you shame them? NO!
In love, you tell them privately that there is this booger hanging out of their nose. You give them an opportunity to remove the problem and you do it with their genuine best interest, BECAUSE YOU LOVE THEM.
One of the greatest ways that we can show someone we love them is not just to hate their sin, but to bring it to their attention in love.
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
You don’t need to call someone out on the sin on Facebook. You might want to, but that’s not love.
You don’t need to reject them and deny them as if they are not good enough for you. Refusing even to let them peak there head in your door. That’s not love. You might hate their sin, but you are also showing that you hate them when you treat them like that.
You don’t need to ignore their sin and say, “I accept them no matter what.” No, you speak the truth in love. Jesus never shied away from calling sin, sin. But He always choose the way that was going to cause the greatest good for the kingdom of God.
Jesus was angry, because Jesus hates sin.
So question 2 - Why did the ESV and the NASB choose to translate that word to be “pity” or “compassion”?
I think it was for the same reason that the scribes choose to change the word from splagchnizomai (splangk-nid-zom-eye) to orgizo (or-gee-zoe). It was well intentioned, but not accurate to the word God originally choose.
The scribes and the translators saw how Jesus responded to this man. Jesus, not needing to, reached out and touched this man. Why?
Jesus Has Compassion for Everyone
Jesus Has Compassion for Everyone
Jesus Has Compassion for Everyone
And Jesus reaching out His hand, in love, to touch a man that was untouchable. To touch a man that hadn’t been touched since he first got this skin disease. A man that people would stay at a minimum of 6 feet away from, Jesus moved in and touched Him.
Jesus showed compassion and the scribes and the translators saw it.
But I want you to see that Jesus’ hate for sin, coupled with His love for this man (for everyone), is what lead Jesus to react so compassionately. He didn’t just heal him, He touched him.
In your sin, in your worst of moments. When you are covered in sin and overwhelmed in the effects of sin. When Jesus is looking at your sin in contempt. He hates it.
His love for you is so overwhelming that He steps into your life, into your mess, and He reaches out His hand and He touches you. He shows you compassion. It is the sick kiss. The kiss that says, I love you so much that I will give everything for you.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Have you seen God’s compassion in your life? Everyone of us are sinners. Everyone of us has attacked God. Everyone of us has gone back to a sin we knew we shouldn’t.
How have you seen God’s compassion in your life? How have you experienced His undeserving love?
If you don’t know God, if you don’t have a relationship with Him … you might be thinking, “I haven’t seen His love in my life.” But the reality of it is, every good thing we have is from God who loves us. Our family, our relationships, our very lives and the breath in our lungs, the fact that we can experience love and joy. These are all gifts from God. These are all expressions of His love toward us.
How do we respond?
How do we respond?
How do we respond to a God that loves us that much? How do we respond for a God that loves us that much?
- If you are new to FVCC, do you know how much God loves you? Do you recognize God's indignation at what sin has caused in your life?
- If you are already in Christ, are you loving how God loves so that the world can see Him? Do you have the same indignation toward sin that creates compassion for the sinner? Are you boldly stepping into the lives of those around you and loving them in their mess?