Cleansing a Leper

28 May 2017 AM – Mark 1:40-45 – Mr17 – Scott Childs

Introduction: (Read text) Leprosy was a terrible disease in Bible days. Albert Barnes states, “No disease with which the human family has been afflicted has been more dreadful than that which is often mentioned in the Bible ‘as the leprosy.’ It first exhibits itself on the surface of the skin… There is a form of the disease in which it commences at the extremities: the joints separate; the fingers, toes, and other members one by one fall off; and the malady thus gradually approaches the seat of life. The wretched victim is thus doomed to see himself dying “piecemeal,” assured that no human power can arrest for a moment the silent and steady march of this foe to the seat of life.”

Like leprosy, sin is also an incurable and dreadful problem. Sin has no cure outside of God’s salvation.

Transition: Please, keep that parallel in mind as we study the passage this morning and note Jesus’ three responses to the leper’s request for healing.

Jesus’ first response was …

1.        His Compassion (v.40-41)

a.         His compassion was stirred
1)         As far as we know, Jesus was still in the Galilee area.
2)         A leper came to Jesus with a deep sense of need. Luke 5:12 tells us that the man was full of leprosy. He must have been in the advanced stages of the dreadful disease.
3)         By law such a leper was not allowed to come too close to people. (Nu 5:2) He was put out of the camp. (Lev 13:45) “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.”
4)         Luke tells us that this miserable smelly leper fell on his face before Jesus. Matthew said he worshipped Jesus. Mark said he kneeled before Jesus begging Him saying, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. In other words, “if you might be willing you are able to cleanse me.” He had faith in Jesus’ ability. He did not know Jesus’ will.
5)         This stirred Jesus’ compassion or pity. Frequently, during His ministry, Jesus had compassion on people. In Mt 9:36 He had compassion on those who were as sheep without a shepherd. In Mt 15:32 He had compassion on His hungry audience. In Mt 20:34 He had compassion on the blind. In Lu 7:13 He had compassion on the widow at Nain who lost her son. Here we see He had pity on that poor leper.
b.         His compassion was visible
1)         Compassion is more than a sympathetic feeling. In each example of Jesus’ compassion, He did something to alleviate the problem.
2)         In the case of the leper, Jesus showed compassion in three ways.
a)         He put forth His hand. Instead of turning from the leper in fear, Jesus reached out to him.
b)         He touched the leper. No one dared to touch a leper. It was against the law. It endangered the person of getting leprosy. It may have been many years since he had felt the touch of a loving hand.
c)         He spoke healing to him. We will look at this in detail in a moment.
O  When a sinner comes to Jesus for spiritual cleansing, Jesus will have compassion. He will not turn away. In pity He will reach out with saving help.

Jesus’ second response was …

2.        His a Command (v.41-42)

a.         First notice the preface of His command.
1)         Before Jesus gave the healing command, He assured the leper that He was willing. He said “I will” or “I am willing”.
2)         Did Jesus heal every sick person who came to Him? I don’t know. I don’t find any example in the Bible of one that He did not heal.
3)         Does He heal every sick Christian today who asks for healing? No. When the apostle Paul prayed three times for healing here is the Lord’s response. (2 Corinthians 12:9) “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
4)         God is always ABLE to heal but it is not always His will. He knows what is best in every situation.
b.         Next, consider the power of His command
1)         Jesus simply spoke a one-word command καθαρίσθητι (three in English) “be thou clean.” (v.41)
2)         One word was all it took and the man’s leprosy was completely gone. It departed from him and he was clean (v.42). If he had lost fingers or other body parts, they were instantly restored.
3)         When God healed leprosy, He did a perfect job of it. Another example of this is seen in the healing of Naaman the leper (2 Kings 5). Elisha told him to dip seven times in the Jordan River. (2 Kings 5:14) “Then he went down, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh was restored again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
4)         Since God does heal some people today, why don’t we see more of God’s miracle healing?
a)         It is not because of His lack of power (Jer 32:17) Ah Lord
b)         It may be because we don’t ask (Jas 4:2). …ye have not…
c)         We may have wrong motives (Jas 4:3). Ye ask and receive…
d)         We may stop praying too soon (Lu 18:1). And he spake…
e)         We may have sin in our life (Ps 66:18). If I regard…
f)          We may not be obeying the Bible (Pr 28:9)
g)         We may have discord in our home (1Pe 3:7) Likewise ye…
h)         We may spiritually need the ailment (2Co 12:9). (above)
i)           It may not be God’s sovereign will (1Jn 5:14-15) And this
O  When it comes to spiritual healing of the soul, we have God’s promise that the Lord is not willing that any should perish (2Pe 3:9). Sin will ruin your life and send you to hell forever, but that is not God’s will. He is both able and willing to save you if you will repent and place your faith in Him. Like the leper, you must come to Christ and humbly ask for cleansing.

Jesus’ third response was …

3.        His a Charge (v.43-45)

a.         His charge was firmly spoken
1)         Mark said that He straitly charged him (v.43). This was a firm command, almost a threatening one.
2)          The charge is spelled out in vs. 44. He was to say NOTHING to ANYONE. He was to go immediately to the priest and offer what Moses prescribed for his cleansing. (Lev 14:4, two living clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop)
b.         His charge was discerning
1)         Jesus sent the healed leper to the priest to fulfil the law.
2)         Jesus may have sent him to the priest immediately to confirm in the priest’s mind that Jesus fully cleansed him.
3)         Jesus told him not to tell anyone because He knew it would hinder his work. He knew that His ministry in the cities would have to stop. He knew that the multitudes would miss His message and focus only on His miracles.
4)         The delighted healed man disobeyed Jesus and told everyone. He published the news. Published is word we saw last week translated preached. He blazed abroad the matter or spread abroad the word.
5)         As a result, Jesus could no longer openly go into the city. If He went to a city, He had to go under cover of darkness or in some other way hide. Instead, He preached in solitary places and people came from all directions to hear Him.
O  The excited man may have thought he was helping Jesus, but in reality by disobeying Jesus he was hindering His work. We must always obey God even when we don’t understand.

Conclusion: Sin is a terrible curse that is similar to leprosy. We are all born sinners. We have sinned often. Sin has no human cure and it will lead to your eternal death. You must repent of your sin and place your faith in Jesus’ payment on the cross to be cured of sin’s doom.

If you are a Christian, sin in your life will cause separation from God. You will lose your fellowship with Him. Again, there is no human cure. If you have sinned, you must confess your sin and let the Lord clean you (1Jn 1:9).

Song: Just As I Am – 249