According to Luke: Loving The Lepers

According to Luke: Loving The Lepers 



Welcome:

Woman took her husband to the doctor’s office. After his checkup the doctor said, ‘Your husband is suffering from a very serious illness’.

The husband was hard of hearing and said, ‘What did he say?’ ‘He says you are sick’.

The doctored continued, ‘But there is hope. You just need to reduce his stress. Each morning, give him a full breakfast. Always be pleasant and nice and kind. For lunch and dinner make him his favorite meals. Never argue with him and always keep yourself looking as perfect as possible. Basically cater to his every whim or he won’t make it’.

The hard of hearing husband again said, ‘What did he say?’ HE SAYS YOU ARE GONNA DIE

Only thing worse than being so sick is not having any hope of a cure.

Opening Illustration: Don’t Be A Fanatic 

A story from the Peanut’s cartoons - you know - with Snoopy and Charlie Brown:


It’s Christmas time and Lucy comes in where Charlie Brown is standing and says, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown. `Tis the season of peace on earth and good will toward men. Therefore, I suggest we forget all our differences and love one another."

Charlie Brown, whose face lights up at this, says, "That’s wonderful, Lucy. I’m so glad you said that. But tell me, do we have to love each other only at this season of the year? Why can’t we love each other all year long?" 

Lucy retorts, "What are you, a fanatic or something?"

Point:
Let’s be honest, some people are just really hard to love. We all know those folks who just get on our nerves.  Perhaps it is their personality. Maybe they are just negative people. Maybe when you see things as being white, they see them as being black. 

Answer me this question: 

Do You Know Someone Who Is Hard To Love?

Point:

Most of you are nodding your head right now. Friends, let me tell you that as you read the Bible, you see Jesus loving those that no one else seemed to care for. He loved those who were considered outcasts and the down and out. As Christians who claim to follow the example of the Master, we should be about the business of not just loving people like us, but loving those unlike us. We are to love those are different, we are even to love our enemies. 

Background:

It has been a few weeks since we have been walking through the Gospel of Luke in a chronological manner so let me set the scene for you. Jesus’ ministry has officially begun. He has been traveling through the region of Judea and He has officially called His disciples to share with Him in His ministry. Jesus is not just calling disciples and cultivating a new ministry, He is also curating some pretty powerful miracles. Included in the list is Jesus’ ability to fill the empty nets of Peter.  Today we find Jesus and His new disciples moving from city to city. They are seeing all sorts of people and word has spread about Jesus. Crowds are gathering. 

Scripture:

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 Lessons From Loving Lepers 

I. Lepers Are Completely Sick vs. 12
Luke 5:12 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.”

Transitional Statement:
Talk about being hard to love. A man with leprosy is not easily liked or loved.

Point:
What do you know about leprosy? 

Well let me inform you.  Leprosy is an ugly, debilitating disease that affects the extremities of the body.  The disease attacks your skin. If you have leprosy then you will have lesions, boils, oozing sores, and your skin will be irritated to the point where it begins to peal off in patches. Then disease moves to your toes, your fingers, you nose, ears, lips, and even your eyelids. The disease will freeze the nerve endings in these areas and eventually everything just starts falling off. 

Isn’t it interesting that this man who approaches Jesus is said to be a man “full of leprosy”. This means that this person was experiencing the final stages of the disease. He only had a few days and weeks to live most likely. His body would have been at the point of critical detonation. 

This mans appearance would have been utterly frightening. Imagine walking along the ancient roads of Judea and Galilee and suddenly a man with no fingers, ears, lips and eyelids comes toward you shouting your name. It would be like a scene out of a zombie movie. 

Point:
Leprosy is talked about quite a bit in the Bible. It was a common disease. There was no cure. It was often contracted by living in conditions that were dirty and disgusting. In the ancient world, leprosy was associated with sin. If you were a leper, you were a sinner. You were being punished by God for doing evil and committing sinful acts against God. 

Under Levitical law, lepers were to be cast out, discarded, and forgotten about. So not only did this man who approached Jesus carry with him a death sentence, he also carried the condemnation of his religion and his people. 

Point:
Friends, make no mistake, this man shouting Jesus’ name for healing is a picture of who we are today. We are born into a disgusting, dirty and sinful life. Spiritually, without the healing of Jesus, we all look like this man. Our bodies deteriorating and rotting away. 

Jeremiah the prophet had this to say about our sick hearts, 

Jeremiah 17:9 ESV
"The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”

Listen to what Paul says about himself, 

Romans 7:18-24 ESV
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. {19} For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. {20} But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. {21} I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good........{24} Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

Leonard Ravenhill, a prominent pastor and evangelist had this to say about our sinful behavior. 

“There are only two kinds of persons: those dead in sin and those dead to sin.”

This man, was dead in his sin just like you and me without Jesus. 

3 Lessons From Loving Lepers 

I. Lepers Are Completely Sick
II. Jesus Is Completely Available vs. 13
And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him.

Point:
The other day, I had a church member call to set up an appointment with me.  He actually asked, “pastor if you are available, I’d like to meet with you”. Now that’s quite a statement. When he said it, I did not think much about it.  I told him to let me check my calendar and get back with him. I called back later and scheduled an appointment with him. 

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus never had to check His calendar to discover His amiability to meet needs of the people.  Perhaps Jesus greatest miracle, with the exception being the resurrection, may have been Jesus’ ability to always have time. 

Jesus was always available. He was available for the religious people like Nicodemus and the diseased like this leper.   

Point:
For the record, there is a lot going on here in this Greek word for “stretch”. Scripture tells us that Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. 

Original Word: ὀρέγω
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: oregó
Phonetic Spelling: (or-eg'-om-ahee)

The world obviously means stretch, but it also means to long for, to reach out, to be strongly inclined to pull towards someone or something, and a desire to attain something.  

Friends, Jesus didn’t just reach out His hand to the diseased man, Jesus embraced this man like no one else. He wanted this man, He desired to hold this diseased man whose body was literally falling apart. 

Are you connecting with the emotion of this moment?

Point:
I did some research on some of the interactions between Jesus and people carrying the disease of sin. Listen to some of these examples:

•    Jesus was not isolated from sinners but allowed the crowds to crush against Him (Luke 8:40-46)
•    Jesus and His disciples became physically tired from ministering among sinners (Mark 6:30-32)
•    Jesus gave His time to travel to where sinners lived (Matthew 9:35) 
•    Jesus ate and drank with sinners (Matthew 9:11) 
•    Jesus received hospitality from sinners (Luke 19:5-7)
•    Jesus gave hospitality to sinners (Mark 2:15)
•    Jesus fed hungry people instead of sending them away to buy food themselves (Mark 6:30-44) 
•    Jesus touched sinners whom society considered unclean (Matthew 8:2-3; Luke 7:36-50) 
•    Jesus showed His compassion for sinners by healing the sick and raising the dead (Matthew 9:35; John 11:38-44)
•    Jesus freed sinners from the terrible control of demons (Matthew 8:16-17)
•    Jesus gave freedom to sinners who were in bondage (John 8:1-11)
•    Jesus invited sinners who were weary and burdened to come to Him (Matthew 11:28-30) 
•    Jesus was visibly moved by sinners’ lack of guidance and direction (Matthew 9:36) 
•    Jesus reached out to many different cultural and language groups in “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Matthew 4:13-16) 
•    Jesus saw Himself as the good shepherd for sinners who would allow Him to lead them (John 10:11-18)
•    Jesus gives life to sinners (John 10:10)
•    Jesus forgave sinners who persecuted and killed Him (Luke 23:33-34) 

Point:
In each case, Jesus provided His time. In most cases Jesus touched people. In every case, Jesus loved sinners and did not seem to separate on sinner being somehow better than another sinner. Each sinner was dead and in desperate need of life. 

Jesus was available. Every time. 

Point:
So, practically speaking, what does that mean for me and you today? It means that we make the time for people. The best I can tell, there are three things that will last forever. God, His Word, and the souls of people. Each soul is worth saving. Each soul is worth our touch, no matter how disgusting we may deem them to be. 

Mark 1:41-42 ESV
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

3 Lessons From Loving Lepers 

I. Lepers Are Completely Sick
II. Jesus Is Completely Available
III. Crowds Are Completely Interested vs. 15
Luke 5:15 ESV
But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities.

Point:
You can imagine the complete change in this man’s life. Besides his physical appearance being transformed, Jesus aids him with his spiritual growth. In the ancient world, healing was always confirmed by a priest. Justification before God was always confirmed by an offering. This man had not practiced his faith in what could have been years. Now, his faith was restored and his body was completely healed. 

Friends I want to remind you that there is power in your testimony.  The Scripture tells us that crowds grew around Jesus when they saw the testimony of this man. People longed for Jesus’ presence and they desired to be near Christ and hear His word. 

Brothers and sisters, you have a leper’s testimony! You were lost in sin, your spiritual body rotting away, and Jesus stretched out His hands on the cross and saved you. You were healed. When is the last time you shared your leper’s testimony?

Trust me, the crowds are waiting to hear it. Friends, people are more willing to hear out testimony than we are willing to share it. You have been told for years to talk about Jesus and many times we are educated beyond our obedience. We know we should tell our testimony, our salvation story, but we simply do not do it.  

Closing Illustration: Talk To Me

A few weeks ago I did a funeral in Montgomery. I ended up connecting with an old friend. He had just visited New York City with his family.  He was telling me some stories and he mentioned to me that one of the most interesting experiences took place in Time Square. He told me that his family ran into a couple who had set up a table and a sign that simply said “Talk To Me”. This man and his family went up and began to chat with this couple, a man and his girlfriend, and just talked to them. This couple told them that they spend most of the day just talking to people that seem to never converse with anyone else.  They told them that there were literally thousands of New Yorkers and tourists alike who are starving for love, for a touch, for a kind word, for conversation. 

Friends, this story really spoke to me. It was so convicting, so convincing to me that I have decided that in this new year, I will tell my leper story. The story of my salvation and how Jesus came into my life.  

Why?

Because people want to hear it.  

Psalm 66:16 ESV
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.

Tell Your Leper Story Today!


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