Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God for his love, his mercy, and grace. Praise God that not only can and does he heal people of physical ailments and diseases, but most importantly he can and does heal mankind from their bondage to sin, giving them new life in and through the death of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God, and so we are." I John 3:1, Ephesians 1:2-6.
Let us acknowledge our sin of failing to thank God as we should, not only for the times of physical healing in our lives, but also for our salvation in Christ, as we should. Ask God to help us to be continually thankful to him for our physical health and our new spiritual life in Christ.
Let's read Luke 5:12-16.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
V12. The context for a miracle.
Again, as yesterday, we note that Luke is not giving us information in chronological order. He is pulling together events to make a point about the power of Jesus to heal. We can, however, work out when this took place. We know from Matthew 8:2-5 that this man meets Jesus sometime not long after he had preached the sermon on the Mount, and before he gets to Capernaum where he meets a Centurion.
What disease does this man have? Leprosy, in biblical times, is the name given to a variety of diseases, some curable, some not. In its worst form, it was a terrible disease, disfiguring and ultimately fatal. The law of God stated that those with this physically and socially debilitating disease were forbidden to approach others; and to prevent accidental contact, Lepers were required, as they walked along, to call out ‘unclean’. Leviticus 13:45,46. The fear of both contamination, and association with uncleanness, meant that many sufferers were ostracized from their loved ones. Many lepers lived impoverished lives through being unable to earn a living. Most were dependent on ‘alms’, charity, to survive. As you can imagine, the psychological effects due to this shame and isolation merely added to the acute physical pain. Life, as a leper, was truly unbearable.
This man, Luke tells us, was full of leprosy; in other words, he was in the advanced stage of the disease. Again, an indication of the doctor’s eye on things. The fact that he is in this town is an indication of his desperation because it was against the law for a leper to enter a city. Leviticus 13:46.
V12. The interaction between the leper and Jesus.
When the man sees Jesus, what does he do? It wasn't unusual for a person to get on their knees when making a considerable request. What is uncommon, of course, is this man’s grasp on the power of the rabbi whom he is prostrating himself in front of. This is because he sees in Jesus divine power. The fact that he couches his request in conditional terms, “Lord if you will, you can make me clean.” is not a sign of doubt because of a lack of faith. The words, in the Greek, show that it is an expression phrased in hope, but there is also a deep-rooted humility out of respect for the right of Jesus to exercise his will as he pleases. The Leper is conveying that he is willing to remain in his current living death if Jesus should choose not to heal him. This is a genuine acceptance of God and his Sovereign rule. When did he come to such an understanding of life and the ways of God? Surely, it had to have been through hearing Jesus preach at some point. This faith didn’t just materialize on its own. It originated, as all faith does, in the abounding grace of God.
How often have you and I come to God, possibly even on our knees, and pleaded with him expectantly to intervene in a situation, without really contemplating that he might not do so; or, if he does, not in our timeframe? The fact that we are, albeit it eventually asking for his help, is surely enough for him to see that we are desperate. The thought of his not responding, as and when we want, is unpalatable. Is there a lack of true humble submission to the rule of God in your life? Do you need to think about what you are doing when you come to God in prayer? Are you doing so with both expectant faith and a humble willingness to, wholeheartedly and unreservedly, accept whatever he deems is appropriate for you?
V13. What does Jesus do?
What does Jesus do? We know today that leprosy is a disease caused by leprosy bacteria, spread either by multiple skin contacts or through droplets transmitted by coughing and sneezing. They attack the peripheral nervous system (outside the brain and spinal cord) before spreading to the skin and various parts of the body resulting in disfigurement. Knowledge of leprosy was obviously not as extensive in first-century Palestine as it is today. The idea of someone touching an infected person was absolutely frowned upon. In reaching out and touching this man, Jesus is doing something extraordinary. He is going beyond, breaking the boundaries of non-contact. He is communicating love and compassion, and telling this man that he cares for him as a person. Surrounded by crowds, Jesus cares for this one person.
God knows all there is to know about everyone in the world, past, present, and future. It’s a thought that is hard to get our heads around, but it is nonetheless true, and yet he cares for you as an individual. God knew you before you were knit together in your mother’s womb. He knows the thoughts you think and the words you speak before you form them. God knows the number of hairs on your head. He hems you in by his love, and there is nowhere you can go, night or day, where he is not present and with you. Understand that God loves you in Christ Jesus. Please realize and grasp that nothing can separate you from that love. Neither height nor depth, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, life or death, nor anything else in all creation can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What does Jesus say to the man? What happened? By the statement of his will (the only recorded time of his doing so), Jesus heals this man instantly. Nothing is ever accidental in the life of Jesus; it is always purposeful. Jesus not only heals the man physically but as he does so, he uses a term that is effectively declaring the man clean in terms of the Law of God. Why? For Jesus, healing this man of his leprosy is important, but what is equally important is this man’s future interaction and physiological well-being. Both of which required the addressing of his position to God's Law, especially in the sight of others. The fact that he is now ‘clean’ opened the way for him, not only in terms of a renewed life physically, but also relationally and socially, as well.
What is striking about these accounts when Jesus did phenomenal things in people’s lives is their brevity and the unpretentiousness. While they undoubtedly filled the recipient with pulsating emotion, Jesus did what he did without the type of hysteria that marks so much of the world we live in. While they are dramatic in the utmost, yet they are undertaken in a simple, drama-less way. Such is the nature and ongoing work of the Kingdom of God. Be careful where Christianity is presented in a boisterous attention-seeking way; it's not the way of Christ and his Kingdom.
V14. Jesus’ charge to the man?
What does Jesus do now? Why? Does he not want the man to share the good news of what has happened in his life? Is Jesus trying to keep the whole thing a secret? I doubt it. Matthew tells us that crowds witnessed what took place. Matthew 8:1. One commentator gives this explanation, “the news as to how this man got rid of his leprosy was not to reach the priests in Jerusalem until they had in all due legal form pronounced him clean of leprosy.” Basically, Jesus wanted the man to do as the Law of God required; present himself to a priest with a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and wait to be declared clean. (Leviticus 14). The thinking was that it would be good if the priests in Jerusalem were to formally announce this man clean before finding out how it had happened, possibly for two reasons. One for the man, the other for Jesus. In respect of the man, it would save him a lot of hassle having to explain himself to the priests. Jesus is always thinking of, and acting for, our best. In respect of himself, it could avoid the possibility of the religious leaders in Jerusalem breathing down his neck.
It also speaks, of course, to Jesus’ subsequently stated intention to fulfill the Law and the prophets, and not to destroy them. Matthew 5:17. Sadly, it was to no avail. The news spread like an Australian bush wildfire in the height of summer, with the result that things just became more demanding for Jesus. The crowds got larger, the hunger to hear him preach intensified, and the numbers seeking to be healed increased. It was incessant, never-ending. What could he do? He withdrew to desolate places and prayed. Note the plural ‘places’. This wasn’t an occasional activity on the part of Jesus; it was a regular feature of his life. Why? Because it placed him within the refuge of the Father. A place where he could see the reality of what was going on. He got a sight of how the Father saw things. Psalm 73:17. It also renewed his strength for the day ahead.
Will you please pray that those who preach the Word of God, including myself, will be men who withdraw into the desolate place to pray and do so regularly. That we might see the reality of what is happening, and draw strength to bring you God's Word.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 1A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Keep memorizing it will do your heart good.
Psalm 121C v1-3,
1. Unto the hills I lift my longing eyes; whence comes my aid?
The Lord's my help, the heavens and earth by him were made.
Your foot from stumbling he will always keep;
the One who guards your life will never sleep.
2. He who keeps Israel slumbers not nor sleeps By night or day.
The Lord keeps you, a shade on your right hand The Lord will stay.
Throughout the day the sun will never smite,
Nor will the moon afflict you in the night
3. You will be safe, protected by the Lord, By his control.
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism - Question 28 - In what does Christ’s exaltation consist?
Answer - Christ’s exaltation consists in his rising again from the dead on the third day; in ascending into heaven; in sitting at the right hand of God the Father; and in coming to judge the world at the last day.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc
Thank God for the love and compassion of Christ, and his power to do whatsoever he wills.
Thank God that he is personally interested in, and cares for, us.
Ask God to give us the faith to trust in him, and to be willing to submit to his answering of our prayers and requests in his time.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley