The Leper, the Paralytic, and the Pharisees
Luke 5:12-26 – September 12, 2021
5:12While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
The question was not the ability of Jesus. This man was convinced Jesus could heal him if He was willing because of his great faith. There was no cure for leprosy. No one had been healed of leprosy for 800 years when Naaman in 2 Kings 5 was healed by dipping himself in the Jordan at the direction of the prophet Elisha.
He was unclean, incredibly unclean. He was kept out of towns and was required to keep a distance from others downwind so they would not smell him. He like all lepers was considered untouchable and could be stoned to drive them away. Yet here he was face down begging Jesus to make him clean if Jesus was willing. We have a clue about this from v8 when Peter tells Jesus “Go away from me Lord for I am a sinful man” … i.e. unclean.
Before we go to the next verse let’s talk about leprosy and sin.
5:13Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
Jesus touched the leper. This alone must have shocked all those watching for it was forbidden to touch a leper as it would make that person unclean. Yet Jesus touched the leper. As He touched him He said I am willing, then He said Be clean presumably while still touching him. Then what happened? Immediately the leprosy left him, just as with Peter’s mother-in-law in 4:38-39.
5:14Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” This is a reference to Leviticus 14:4-10
5:15Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.
5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Setting an example for us.
5:17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. (Heresy hunters) And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.
The Paralyzed Man
5:18Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.
5:19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
5:20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
Ever wondered when you read about this how this man’s friends got him there? How they got together to get him there? Why they got together to get him there? Let’s go back to the message last week and ask how deep was their faith, their expectations to get him there?
Next let’s consider what verse 20 says in the AMP version, When Jesus saw their [active] faith [springing from confidence in Him], He said, “Man, your sins are forgiven.” Did Jesus forgive the man because of the faith of the men who brought him there?? What does that mean for us? For our prayer life? For bringing someone to church? To a prayer meeting? To a Bible study?
The Pharisees and the healing
5:21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
They asked the perfect question without realizing it and then ignored the answer Jesus provided.
5:22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?
5:23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?
5:24But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
When Jesus calls himself the Son of Man He is referring back to the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13-14
5:25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
Jesus demonstrates His authority as the Son of Man.
5:26Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
The symptoms of the ancient “lepra” are as follows.
The voice is hoarse; the blood full of little white shining bodies; the fluid destitute of its natural humidity, insomuch that salt applied to it, does not dissolve; it is so dry, that vinegar poured on it boils; and is so strongly bound together by little imperceptible threads.
The face resembles a coal half extinct, slimy, shining, and bloated, with frequent hard knobs, green at bottom, and white at top.
The hair is short, stiff, and brinded; and not to be torn off, without bringing away, some of the rotten flesh,; if it grows again, either on the head or chin, it is always white:
At the forehead, run large wrinkles or furrows, from one temple to the other; the eyes red and inflamed, and shine like those of a cat; the ears swollen and red, eaten with ulcers towards the bottom, and encompassed with little glands; the nose sunk, because of the rotting of the cartilage; the tongue dry and black, swollen, ulcerated, divided with furrows, and spotted with grains of white; the skin covered with ulcers, that die and revive on each other, or with white spots, or scales like a fish; when cut, instead of blood, yields a puss like liquid:
There is such a degree of insensitivity, that the wrist, feet, or even the large tendon, may be pierced with a needle, without the patient’s feeling any pain; at last the nose, fingers, toes, fall off entirely.
Slowly the sufferer becomes a mass of ulcerated growths. The average course of the disease is nine years, and it ends in mental decay, coma, and ultimately death. The sufferer becomes utterly repulsive – both to himself and to others.
Between this disease and sin, there is a very great likeness.
All mankind, by reason of sin, are by the Lord pronounced filthy; and by their evil actions, not only defile themselves, but others; and when they come to understand their condition freely they begin to understand that their own righteousness are as filthy rags, and they themselves are as an unclean thing as Jesus illustrates in a parable in Luke 18:9-14
Leprosy was and is a terrible and ugly disease, as is sin; sin is abominable to God, and renders men abominable in his sight; it causes the sinner himself, when convinced of it, to loath and abhor his sin:
Sin has spread itself over all mankind, and over all the powers and faculties of the soul, and members of the body; there is no place free of it: and as the leprosy is of consuming nature, it eats and wastes the flesh, so sin eats like a canker, and brings ruin and destruction upon men, both soul and body.
This disease was incurable by medicine; However, in 2 Kings 5 a man, Naaman, was cured by the directions of Elisha to dip himself 7 times in the Jordan when he ended up with skin fresh and new like that of a young boy.
Only Christ by his blood and stripes, heals the disease of sin, and cleanses us from it. Thus the leper, Who, seeing Jesus, fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
I believe the example of the leper was placed here so we would understand our need to come to Jesus with all of our sins and fall on our faces before Him and beg Him to make each of us clean. We can only be made clean through His sacrifice on the cross when we admit we are sinners, repent of our sins and truly believe Jesus died for our sins paying the price for our sins in full can we be made clean, be forgiven as we call upon Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
THEN as we are told in Corinthians 5:17, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!