Faithlife Sermons

Luke 5:12-16 (3)

The Gospel of Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Jesus healed a leper who had exhibited biblical faith, this intimating his coming cleansing of the soul, and gathering of the spiritually unclean into the City of God.

Invite to follow along Luke 5:12-16
We’re going to be learning about another event...
...that took place during Jesus’ “Great Galilean Ministry
Matthew specifies:
AFTER the Sermon on the Mount.
Both (other two) Synoptic Gospel writers:
Seem to indicate:
Serves as a yet further testament to:
Jesus’ power and authority
Let’s read our text...
…and seek to behold his glories within it:
Read Luke 5:12-16
Luke 5:12–16 (ESV)
12 While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. 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 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.
3 minutes
Verse 12:
-Let me draw your attention back to verse 12
There, Luke tells us that this event took place:
While he was in one of the cities...”
-I assume that Luke is making reference to what we read two weeks ago...
…where Jesus told the people of Capernaum:
Luke 4:43 (ESV)
“...I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
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-So, in all likelihood, what we have is:
Jesus continuing his itinerant proclamation of the gospel of the Kingdom...
(in the greater Galilee area)
At some point going out from the towns to teach from the mountain...
Then, returning to the general proximity of the population centers...
(with the crowds in tow)
And he encounters a man that stuck out...
…even in the presence of such a throng of desperate people.
He encounters a Leper!
(3 minutes, 6 total)
Now, the fact that you didn’t gasp all wide eyed...
…and put your hands over your mouths when I said that...
…confirms my suspicions, that:
We’re all much too familiar with this event...
We’re all much too unfamiliar with leprosy in the ancient world...
…for verse 12 to affect us the way it should!
R.C. Sproul helps us to step into their 1st century shoes a little more:
In biblical times, to contract leprosy was not merely to suffer the ravages of a debilitating disease that affected one’s body and brought disfiguration of its members,...
...but perhaps even more important was what it meant to a person socially, emotionally and personally.
Once a person was pronounced to be leprous, he was forced by law to remove himself from all contact with healthy individuals in his community.
It meant a life of banishment, a life in abject exile, removed from family and employment.
It was a truly miserable existence. - R.C. Sproul
Philip Ryken contextualizes it for us (older folks), to our modern time:
Even when it was not deadly, leprosy was a dreadful disease—the AIDS or the Ebola virus of its day.
According to the ancient historian Josephus, lepers were treated “as if they were, in effect, dead men.”
Lepers had to live in isolation. Since there was no cure, the only defense was quarantine, so lepers lived in separate communities - Ryken
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Think COVID in the spring of 2020!
But with millennia of data to prove its severity!
When you saw a Leper… You ran the other way!
-Now, this may sound harsh to our modern ears...
…and may offend our modern sensibilities:
(after all, modern medicine has all but eliminated leprosy in the developed world)...
…but we need to remember that the Jews...
...had a measure of biblical precedent for acting this way:
Leviticus 13:2–3 ESV
2 “When a person has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a case of leprous disease on the skin of his body, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests, 3 and the priest shall examine the diseased area on the skin of his body. And if the hair in the diseased area has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a case of leprous disease. When the priest has examined him, he shall pronounce him unclean.
Remember that “Leprosy” referred to many skin diseases...
…not just “Hansen’s disease”.
If they were found to have it:
Leviticus 13:45–46 (ESV)
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.
This forced isolation appeared to have a two-fold purpose:
The practical protection of the nation from plague and epidemic...
The spiritual preservation of its sanctity.
We see these alluded to in:
Numbers 5:2–3 (ESV)
2 “Command the people of Israel that they put out of the camp everyone who is leprous or has a discharge and everyone who is unclean through contact with the dead.
3 You shall put out both male and female, putting them outside the camp, that they may not defile their camp, in the midst of which I dwell.”
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See a similar thing in the command to keep their excrement outside the camp.
It reminded them of:
Their call to holiness, because...
The fact that Godwalkedin their midst.
There too, the seemingly arbitrary (at the time) command for ritual purity...
…served to protect and prosper them as a nation as well.
This is something we see all the time with the...
Civil and Ceremonial laws of the OT.
Now that we’ve “caught up” a little...
...with our understanding of the natural world...
…we can better see and appreciate...
…the wisdom and goodness of God...
…in those seemingly nit-picky, arbitrary Laws!
(8 minutes, 14 total)
-Now, let’s read the first sentence in verse 12 again...
...with all of that backdrop in mind:
Luke 5:12 (ESV)
12 While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy...
The NASB says "covered with leprosy.”
Dr. Luke makes sure we understand that this man’s condition:
Was one of desperation.
His Leprosy:
Was in its advanced stages
Would have been easily recognizable
Well beyond the hope of recovery.
-Now, where was this man supposed to be?
In the Leper colony...
FAR AWAY from the general population!
And what was he supposed to do if he HAD to encounter healthy people?
Cover his face...
Yell in warning (from the distance) as he approached.
Guys, this didn’t take Jesus by surprise!
He knew he was coming...
and he permitted him to come right to him!
This was explicitly intentional!
-Luke tells us how the man responds to Christ’s gracious condescension:
Unlike Peter (last week), he didn’t need a miracle to show him his rotten condition.
Every part of his existence was a constant reminder of his native corruption.
Luke says:
Luke 5:12 (ESV)
12 ...when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him,...”
-Don’t overlook something very important here:
This is a man who has been humbled by the circumstances of his life
He has been brought lowvery low… He’s almost bottomed out!
Given his advanced-stage-diagnosis from Luke...
…he has probably lost everything that mattered to him in life!
But Jesus had just preached those counterintuitive words of hope...
…for a man such as this:
Matthew 5:3–5 ESV
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
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His response to Jesus suggests that he was...
…a prime candidate for this blessedness!
Here is a man without Hubris or position for bargaining.
His only hope is in the virtue of the Savior...
…because he knows that he has nothing in himself...
…with which to negotiate.
He simply bows himself before Jesus in humble submission...
…and implores his mercies!
(such a beautiful gospel picture)
And the content of his entreaty is as well.
(4 minutes, 18 total)
He says:
Luke 5:12 (ESV)
12...Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”
Notice: “Lord”
(recognition of Christ’s positional authority)
“if you will:”
“you can!” (dunamis = ability)
In other words:
“I know, without a doubt, that you have the power and ability to cleanse me of this great incurable malady...”
“…the only variable in the situation is, if you’re willing to do so...”
“…but unto thy Sovereign Pleasure, I resign my fate!”
Brethren… That’s Faith!
That’s real faith!
That’s faith without hubris and presumption!
That’s faith in the power of God...
coupled with trust in the wisdom and goodness of God!
Sproul says this:
What incredible words! He doesn’t just come up to Jesus and negotiate with him for the price of a cure, nor does he come to him and say, ‘Jesus, will you heal me?’ or ‘Can you heal me?’
In pure humility, he said, ‘Jesus I know that you can—will you? - Sproul
(3 minutes, 21 total)
We see Jesus’ reply in verse 13:
Luke 5:13 (ESV)
13 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him...
The Reformed Expository Commentary gives us some helpful insight here:
Understand that this was something that nobody ever did.
Touching a leper was forbidden—not by any specific command from the law of God, but by the very nature of the disease. It simply wasn’t done.
For them, the thought of touching a leper was unspeakable because his physical and spiritual uncleanness was contagious. - REC
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And the physical “risk” was quite real.
Actual leprosy (Hansen’s disease) wasn’t spread by contact...
…but many of the other skin diseases...
(that were lumped into that category)
-So (naturally speaking), why would Jesus risk:
…to touch the man...
…when we know from other parts of Scripture...
…that he was able to heal lepers with just a word? (c.f. Luke 17:11-14)
Well, the answer is multifaceted.
You, could of course answer every question about Jesus’ actions with:
“He was motivated by the glory of his Father
(and you would be correct)
But, Mark gives us an additional detail...
…and a needful reminder for us.
Mark 1:41 (ESV)
41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him...
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Most translations say:
“moved with compassion
anger” (the strongest of all passions)
Jesus was “stirred-passionately” by this man’s suffering.
He was incensed by the power that had overtaken the man...
…and had destroyed his life.
-He genuinely cared
-He was genuinely moved by it
-And what we have happening is...
...the High King of Heaven, arising to come to the defense of his suffering subject!
Luke tells us that,
He stretches out his hand of power and issues forth this royal edict:
Luke 5:13 (ESV)
13...“I will; be clean.” ...
In other words,
I will it; be thou cleansed!
-And in obedience to the royal decree...
-And persuaded by the divine power...
Luke tells us that:
Luke 5:13 (ESV)
13 ...immediately the leprosy left him.
Ryken, observes:
But Jesus touched the man, firmly resting his hand on the dreadful disease.
In that electric moment, as the high voltage of divine power coursed through the strong arm of Jesus, the leper was healed.
Ordinarily, when something clean touches something unclean, it becomes unclean as well.
But here, for the first time in history, things ran in the other direction, as the cleanliness of Jesus healed the unclean leper. - Philip Ryken
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(5 minutes, 26 total)
Now, I feel obliged to point out to you (again)...
…the qualitative difference between:
Jesus’ miracles,
His apostles’ miracles...
…and those that many claim to be performing today!
(That’s not to imply that God doesn’t do anything miraculous today)...
But it is to imply that he no longer gives that gifting and ability to men.
-This miracle was “immediate,” and complete.
(nothing gradual or uncertain about it)
-Luke had told us that this man had been:
full of(covered with) leprosy”...
…Now he’s clean. (period)!
And Jesus doesn’t have to hide him from the:
Cameras, or
The doctors!
In fact, he sends the man TO THEM...
…in oder that his healing would be PROVEN!
(2 minutes, 28 total)
Look at verse 14
Luke 5:14 (ESV)
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.”
Mark adds:
Mark 1:43 (ESV)
43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once,
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Notice several things here:
(He sought no glory or renown for himself)
Own resignation to the will of the Father:
(He would continue to patiently entrust his exaltation to HIS FATHER’S efforts)
Matthew alludes to both of these...
...with his explanation of a similar event:
Matthew 12:15–21 (ESV)
15 Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all
16 and ordered them not to make him known.
17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
20 a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory;
21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
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Now, notice also (in our text):
Commitment to the Law:
His touching of leper wasn’t meant to convey the idea...
…that he was a rebel non-conformist!
(You’re grossly mistaken if that’s the way you view him!)
(The hero and prototype for revolutionaries)
-As God, the eternal Son, he eternally submits to the will of the Father
(Not begrudgingly, but sharing the same desires)
As the Son, he was:
Galatians 4:4–5 (ESV)
4 ...God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
5 to redeem those who were under the law...
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He didn’t set the Law aside (Civil and Ceremonial)...
…until he had “fulfilled” it in the place of his covenant sons.
-Verse 14 is a further testament to that!
Jesus tells the (formerly banished) man...
Not to tell anyone how (or WHOM)...
but to,
Submit himself to the Law:
go be examined by the priest
Make the required sacrifices...
for a PROOF to them
as a TESTIMONY unto them” (KJV)
The NET Notes tell us here, that:
This phrase could be taken as referring to a positive witness to the priests, a negative testimony against them, or as a testimony to the community that the man had indeed been cured - NET Notes
(5 minutes, 33 total)
Whatever the case, Mark tells us that the man:
Mark 1:45 (ESV)
45 ...went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news...
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Luke says:
Luke 5:15–16 (ESV)
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.
This is what always seemed to happen.
In spite of Jesus’ abstention from self-promotion,...
…those whom he had delivered,...
Seemed incapable of keeping it to themselves.
-And when we understand the spiritual analogy...
…that’s being connoted in this text...
…I believe that we may be consumed with this self-same zeal!
You see, leprosy, was one of the clearest biblical metaphors for:
It’s communicable nature:
To others
Within our own selves.
Isaiah used this metaphor as an indictment against then apostate Israel:
Isaiah 1:4–6 ESV
4 Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. 5 Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.
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My friends, this is the pervasive and invasive power of sin
It spreads like leaven...
fills the whole lump!
“the whole head is sick”
the whole heart (is) faint
It affects every part of you!
Your whole nature is corrupted by it.
It is a malady for which there is no natural remedy!
But all hope is not lost...
Because not all hope lies within your own:
You have One (and only one) transcendent hope.
Charles Spurgeon explains what it is:
The ‘I will’ of an emperor may have great power over his dominions; but the ‘I will’ of Christ drives death and hell before him, conquers disease, removes despair, and floods the world with mercy.
The Lord’s ‘I will’ can put away your leprosy of sin, and make you perfectly whole. - Spurgeon
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What should you do?
What MUST you do?
You must do the same thing the leper in our story did:
Come to Christ in faith
Fall on your face before him
(humility - recognizing who you are in light of his perfections)
Implore him (“beg” him)...
Acknowledging his:
Praying from the depths of your soul:
Lord, if you will, you CAN make me clean!”
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