Summary: Jesus knows & cares about us. He knows what is inside us. He knows how we think. He knows when we're telling the truth & when we're lying. He knows who & what we really are, & He loves us anyway. (Powerpoints Available - #217)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL,KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoint slides are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request - #217.)
TEXT: Mark 1:40-2:12
ILL. In my opinion, one of the most beautiful songs in our hymnbooks is #528, entitled "No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus." Notice the words in verse 1:
I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus
Since I found in Him a friend so strong & true;
I would tell you how He changed my life completely
He did something that no other friend could do.
No one ever cared for me like Jesus,
There's no other friend so kind as He;
No one else could take the sin & darkness from me
O how much He cared for me!
That is the message of the Gospel writers. Jesus knows & cares about us. He knows what is inside us. He knows how we think. He knows when we're telling the truth & when we're lying. He knows who & what we really are, & He loves us anyway.
PROP. With that in mind, I want to look at 2 events in the life of Jesus which so clearly show that God knows us, & that He knows our greatest needs.
I. THE CLEANSING OF A LEPER
The first story is found in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 1, beginning in vs. 40. It tells about a leper who was healed.
Listen to Mark 1:40 42. "A man with leprosy came to Him & begged Him on his knees, 'If you are willing, you can make me clean.'
"Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand & touched the man. 'I am willing,' He said. 'Be clean!' Immediately the leprosy left him & he was cured."
A. Now you have all heard about leprosy, but I imagine that no one in this room has ever seen someone with that disease. Leprosy in its advanced stages is not a pretty sight. Nodules in a leper's skin swell & ulcerate. And from those ulcers come a foul smelling odor.
Nerve deterioration often results in loss of toes & fingers, even ears & noses. Various parts of the body can swell so much that a leper looks grotesque.
No wonder lepers hid themselves from other people. And whenever a leper would dare come out in the open he had to cry "Unclean! Unclean!" to warn people away because they thought leprosy was contagious & they were very afraid of catching it.
Now, knowing the love & compassion of Jesus, I can easily understand Him healing this man of his leprosy. But why did Jesus touch him?
I mean, all Jesus had to do was say the word, & the man would have been healed. Jesus didn't have to touch him. But He deliberately reached out & touched the leper!
Remember, according to the law, when Jesus touched him Jesus became unclean, too. But Jesus went ahead & did it anyway. Why?
I think it was because Jesus was giving him a gift he would never forget. There is something special about human touch that communicates friendship & concern & even love.
But in that day no one else would ever dare to come close to a leper. So when Jesus actually reached out & touched him, that must have been a very emotional moment that the leper would remember forever.
B. And consider this. Jesus didn't put on sideshows. There is always a reason behind everything that God does.
And if we stopped right here in the reading of this miracle we might think that it simply shows the compassion of Jesus. But go on & read a little bit further & you'll discover that there is more to it than that.
The purpose behind the miracle is described in Mark 1:43-44. It says, "Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 'See that you don't tell this to any one.
'But go, show yourself to the priest & offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing. . .' And Jesus gave this reason, 'as a testimony to them.'
A testimony to whom? To the priests as well as to everyone else. Not only did He heal this man, but Jesus clearly says that He wants this healing to be a testimony to the priests.
If the man had gone to the priests in the temple, as Jesus told him to do, & said, "Look at me. For years I have had leprosy. But now I’m cleansed, & the one who healed me told me to come to you & make the appropriate sacrifice for my cleansing. But I'm not sure what sacrifice to offer. Tell me, what am I supposed to do?"
The priests would not have known what to tell him, because there had not been a cleansing of a leper since the time of the prophet Elisha, nearly 800 years before. And the man who was cleansed then was not a Jew who was required to offer sacrifices, but a Gentile by the name of Naaman.