Summary: How a Leper’s life was changed by meeting Jesus’ face to face.
“face to Face” Sermon series
Sunday June 24th 2007
We have a play set in our back yard, and under it the kids have seen it as great fun to dig up the dirt. They love to sit out there and play in the dirt. And the only thing greater than playing in dirt is playing in mud. They at times, when I’m not particularly looking at some water and have a good-ol-time out there. But then they want to come into the house or come give hugs or sit on my knee. My response is typically, “Get away, don’t go in the house like that, Don’t touch me, clean up before.”
Now that isn’t always the case though. Let’s say that in the process of covering themselves with mud, one of them gets a cut. This actually happened a few years ago. Our kids, a few neighbors and the Hilty kids were all playing outside. They were all dirty from play and Abby got her finger smashed by a brick, cutting her pretty bad. She needed stitches. She came running and screaming into the house. It didn’t matter how dirty she was, we cleaned the cut, loaded her into the car and off to the hospital we went.
You see, her need was greater than any damage dirt could make.
This story is also included by Matthew In chapter 8 and Mark in chapter 1
Text: Luke 5: 12-14 ESV “While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." 13And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him. (Mark 1:42 adds, “…and he was cleansed.”) 14And he charged him to tell no one, but "go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them." (Amplified: for a testimony and proof to the people, that they may have evidence [of your healing].)
This man, this leper came face to Face with the Son of God. What happened; what drove him?
In addition to this miraculous healing, there are some valuable spiritual principles to be found. I want us to look below the surface because I think there are several important lessons we can learn about ourselves.
I. “There came a man full of Leprosy”
What drove this man to Jesus? What is Leprosy? What does it have to do with us?
a. Leprosy is a Medical Condition
i. Could be a variety of skin diseases, but most suffered with “Hansen’s disease.”
ii. A particular bacteria gets into the body, it can take years before the first signs of the disease appear.
iii. It begins with little specks on the eyelids and on the palms of the hands. Then it spreads over the body. It bleaches the hair white. It covers the skin with scales and oozing sores.
iv. It often attacks the victim’s face, forming spongy tumors; making it impossible to hide.
Dr. Thomson in his famous work, "The Land and the Book," speaks of lepers in the East, and says, "The hair falls from the head and eye-brows; the nails loosen, decay and drop off; joint after joint of the fingers and toes shrink up and slowly fall away. The gums are absorbed, and the teeth disappear. The nose, the eyes, the tongue and the palate are slowly consumed."
v. Because the bacteria eat away the nerve endings of the body the victim cannot tell when something is hurting him. Initially in the fingers and toes, then spreading up the arms and legs.
Dr Paul Brand, a missionary who has conducted a great deal of research on the disease, explains that in a leper colony in India, many of the lepers were missing fingers and toes. A lot of them seemed to lose them at night, for no apparent reason, they just disappeared. When someone finally stayed up all night to watch and see what happened, they found that rats were chewing off their fingers and toes at night -- but the victims didn’t wake up, because they didn’t feel anything.
vi. The leprosy itself was not fatal, but most lepers die from other diseases they contracted because of their weakened condition.
vii. Until Recently, the disease had no known cure.
So as leprosy advances, a leper doesn’t even look human. No fingers. No toes. Many of them blind. Nobody wants to get near them, nobody wants to touch them. A leper becomes utterly repulsive.
viii. This man was FULL of leprosy.
b. Leprosy is a social disease
i. Because there was no cure, the Old Testament sets forth very strict instructions regarding those who had the disease.