Summary: How to win to Christ those who have been overlooked in the evangelism strategy of the church.
The world into which the Sovereign Savior came was DISENFRANCHISED. Man had fallen from his native environment, and thus, had become raped of his righteousness, enslaved by his egotism, dehumanized by his disobedience, demeaned by his demeanor, divested of most vestiges of self-worth, denied access to the mainstream of life, and demonized. This was true in the social, political and spiritual arenas of life. So, Jesus encountered a people Deprived of the Privilege of Personhood.; He tabernacled among a people Minus the Freedom of Wholeness. Everywhere He pivoted, He was pursued and pressed by Fragmented Pieces of Clay. The world of Mankind was Disenfranchised.
I suggest to us that Someone Is Deprived Of The Privilege Of Public Interaction. Someone has been judged Socially Unacceptable. Now my reason for saying that is because when Church was out, when the sermon was over and the Invitation extended; when Jesus and the multitude came down from the high on the mountain, a man who was Socially Unacceptable was Denied Access to the Meeting. Matthew says that when the meeting was over, "Behold, there came a Leper." This man, because of his Condition, was Disenfranchised!
However, the story has a happy ending. Verses 2-4 attest the fact that ONE CAN BE SOCIALLY AND RELIGIOUSLY EXCOMMUNICATED, AND YET BE ETERNALLY ACCEPTED. The Low-Downs, the Outcasts, the Throw-Always, the Uncleansed, the Socially and Religiously Deprived MUST BE DISCIPLED! Indeed, in the Parable of the Great Supper, our Lord stresses the Urgency of Discipling the Disenfranchised, when He commanded His servant to search the city streets and highways for the Poor, Maimed, Halt and Blind.
THREE THINGS I want you to consider:
THE TRUSTING TEMPERAMENT OF THE LEPER,
THE TENDER TOUCH OF THE LORD,
THE TELLING TESTIMONY OF THE LAW.
All three demonstrate the Necessity of Discipling The Disenfranchised. This Leper was Disenfranchised, and he experienced THE TENDER TOUCH OF THE LORD and THE TELLING TESTIMONY OF THE LAW.
I. SO FIRST, LET’S CONSIDER THE TRUSTING TEMPERAMENT OF THE LEPER.
1. At the very outset, His Temperament Testifies that HINDRANCES CAN BE OVERCOME. In verse 2 Matthew says this Leper "Came." When anyone in any condition comes to Jesus, there are always Some Hindrances.
This man was Socially Unacceptable, yet He Came!
He was Physically Repugnant, yet He Came!
He was Ceremonially Unclean, yet He Came!
He was Religiously Unfit, yet He Came!
He was Economically Poor, yet He Came!
He was Hygienically Odorous, yet He Came!
GENUINE FAITH OVERCOMES ANY HINDRANCE! Whether it be a crowd, a roof, a walled city, a wide sea, a high mountain, a deep valley; a fear, a doubt, yes, even Leprosy; Faith Will Find A Way! "For what is it that overcomes the world? Even Our Faith." So, in spite of His Hindrances, Matthew says he "Came."
2. And then again, his coming to the Lord indicates AN AGGRESSIVE FAITH. Matthew calls attention to his aggressive faith by that word "behold." Its as if Matthew says ’Don’t you dare Miss This! Look at this Bold Leper with scaly skin and musky odor Aggressively making his way to the Lord!’
He had a Bold Confidence about him. He approached the Lord without fear of being stoned to death or being turned away. He didn’t shout to Jesus from a distance as he was supposed to do; but he approached Him directly and, without hesitation. He Came With Confidence because he Believed Jesus Was Compassionate.
3. And then again, HIS ADORING WORSHIP shows that he’s disciplinable. FAITH ALWAYS CONTAINS WORSHIP. Now here is a man who had been denied access to the Temple and Synagogue, a man deprived of the freedom of assembly, falling down at the feet of Jesus WORSHIPPING. He understood the Theology of Worship. He knew that the ’Where and the When’ of Worshipping were not important; but the ’Whom and the How’ you Worship. So, he fell at the feet of Jesus and WORSHIPPED!
Worshipping, then, is AN APPROPRIATE RESPONSE TO A PROPER UNDERSTANDING OF THE NATURE OF GOD. It is ascribing to Him His Worth, stating His Supreme Value. Therefore, this Leper:
Did not Whine, he Worshipped!
Did not Wail, he Worshipped!
Did not Whimper, he Worshipped!
Did not Whisper, he Worshipped!
Did not Waiver, he Worshipped!
Did not Worry, he Worshipped!
In spite of His Condition, He Broke Down and Lifted Up! Despite His Problem, He Stroked the Lord! He Admired the Lord! He Hallowed His Name!
And if that wasn’t enough, while Worshipping-
4. HIS MOUTH CONFESSED. First of all, he said "LORD." He felt he was in the Presence of God, so he CONFESSED JESUS AS LORD: Thou art the OWNER of everything, the RULER of all, the HEAD of all - "LORD!" You, Lord; me, servant. So that’s why I’m down in the dust at Your feet - "LORD!"