Summary: We can choose to learn lessons in life from everyone. In this message you can see how Jesus used three outsiders to teach all of us some lessons about coming to Him.
Lessons From The Outcasts
April 25, 2004
Magicians and power-lifters sure are fun to watch. They can do some pretty cool stuff, like cutting people in two and ripping apart phone books. Neither of which can do much for you in the world, but they are still cool things to see.
We watch the magician and ask, “How did he do that?”
We watch the strong man and say, “There’s just no way!”
During the first part of this year we have spent time focusing on the Person of Jesus. We have learned some pretty valuable lessons about our Lord. Over the next few weeks we are going to take a look at the Power of Jesus.
Jesus is not like a magician who uses smoke and mirrors or sleight of hand. He is the living God who creates out of nothing through the sheer power of His will. He is not a steroid induced athlete that is able to do things to open the eyes of everyone in the cheap seats.
Over the next few weeks we are going to take a look at the power of Jesus. We will wonder at His miracles. We will cower at the raw power His words. We will bow before his mighty hand that fed 5,000 and cleansed the temple.
In the October 1993 issue of Life magazine, a photo shot by Scott Threlkeld shows three teenage boys who have jumped from a thirty-foot-high cypress branch toward a dark Louisiana pond. Threlkeld evidently climbed the tree and shot from above the shirtless, soaring Huck Finns, for in the picture we look down on the boys and the pond. There is something inspiring in the picture.
The lanky boy on the right shows the least confidence, jumping feet first, knees bent and legs spread, arms flapping like a bird prepared to make a crash landing. The middle boy dives head first, arms spread stiffly straight and perpendicular, like the wings of a small aircraft. His head is slightly ducked and to the right. He is no doubt in a hurry to reach the water. The third boy also dives head first, but he isn’t in a hurry. He is floating. His head is up. His body is in a relaxed arch, both knees slightly bent, legs slightly apart. His arms are nonchalantly straight, hanging from his shoulders in an upside-down V. Poised and self-assured, he knows exactly where he is.
No matter their sense or style, each of these three boys did a challenging thing: They took a scary leap. Granted, high dives in country backwaters aren’t always wise, but sometimes to follow God we must take a similar leap of faith.
When we do, like the three outsiders in our text this morning we will learn some pretty valuable lessons about the Lord and His Kingdom.
Open Up Your Bibles To Matthew 8:1-17
We’re looking here at three stories: a leper, a centurion, and a woman. They are all so different , yet they belong together since none of them belong. They are outsiders, all of them. It should not be surprising for us to find them lumped together here in Matthew’s book.
Matthew knows what it is like to be rejected. Matthew also knows what it is like to follow Jesus and be used by God. He tells their stories not because the raw details are so interesting. There are lessons that we can learn from these outsiders that are important for us in the church today.
What are those lessons that we can learn?
Let’s take a look again at these three people.
1. The Leper!
Why was the leper considered to be an outsider?
It was because of this disease they had. The word “leper” literally means “to peal”. Leprosy is a disease that also migrated to leather, pottery, and even walls.
It caused reddish white sores to pop up all over the body that would fester and spread. It would often eat away at limbs of the people who had it.
A leper was considered to be a human scab. They were to live in colonies outside of the city. They were to announce their coming whenever they entered the presence of people who did not have the disease.
You can imagine what it must have been like for this man. He was shunned from his church! He was forced to leave his family! He had no dignity! He had no self-respect!
Under these circumstances, it is amazing that the leper even approached Jesus. No other rabbi would have shown interest at all in this man, but Jesus did.
This fellow knowing that there was no other way went to the very one who could make a difference.
What lessons can we learn from leper?
A. Just like the leper, we need to courageously approach Jesus!