Summary: Story of the healing of a leper with emphasis on the personal characteristics of Jesus.
INTRO.: I was once acquainted with a man who had AIDS. I don’t call him my friend because I was never able to be his friend. Like most folk, I feared his disease even though I knew on an intellectual level I shouldn’t. Moreover, he seemed bent on being obnoxious. He claimed to be a Christian but, in Sunday School class, flaunted his homosexuality. He tried to indoctrinate us as to all the fine artists and scientists whom he claimed were gay. He boasted about his pierced nipples. He walked with a shuffle and let his wrists hang limp, as though imitating all the stereotypes. I considered him a phony and wondered how he could face death without “getting real.” Henry was hard to love!
I think AIDS victims are like modern day lepers. Outcasts of society, they face certain and painful death. They tend to congregate with those who share their malady or remain isolated. Some become bitter and angry. Others are drawn to our Lord like the leper in this story.
I can easily understand how the people of Jesus’ day felt about lepers. (Notice Mark doesn’t call him a leper, but a “man who had leprosy. Much kinder!) Victims of leprosy were social and religious outcasts. In its later stages, the disease was horribly disfiguring. There was no cure for it and it inevitably led to a lonely and painful death. No one wanted to risk contact with such a person.
But, we want to see Jesus, not the diseased man. What does this contact tell us about the Master?
I. Notice the man’s approach to Jesus: he says, “If you are willing:” Literally, “if you will. you can make me clean”
A. There are those who say God promises healing for all believers who claim it. They tell us the expression, “if it be God’s will,” is destructive to our faith and hinders prayer.
1. This man did not doubt. He said “you can make me clean.” No hesitation is evident in what he said.
2. He simply believed Jesus may not be willing to heal him and seems willing to accept that if it be the case.
3. Perhaps he recognized God may have a purpose for his illness beyond his understanding.
B. There were others whom God did not heal because of a greater purpose:
1. Lazarus became ill and died. Jesus said “it is for God’s glory.” John 11:4 (quickview) . Later, He also told His apostles it was for their benefit so that they may believe. John 11:15 (quickview)
3. The apostle Paul was not relieved of his “thorn in the flesh.” He said it was “to keep me from becoming conceited” II Cor. 12:7
C. The point is; God is sovereign. He gets to decide who is healed and who is not, who lives and who dies, who is exalted and who is abased. And, Jesus is acting in the Father’s behalf.
1. We must accept by faith the idea God knows what our needs are better than we know.
2. Jesus doesn’t rebuke the man for uttering the qualifying phrase. In fact, He affirms him when He says “I am willing.”
3. Jesus confidently accepts the man’s affirmation that Jesus is in charge. He is in charge. He constantly conducted Himself in a manner showing He was aware of being in charge. Here is our first clue as to what Jesus is like. He is in control.