- Sermon Notes
A Leper and a Paralytic
In Luke 5, we find Jesus at the northern end of the Sea of Galilee behind the town of Capernaum. Jesus has just finished speaking to the multitude and I'm convinced that He would have been speaking to them about God's love for them and that the heart of those who would enter into the kingdom of heaven would be transformed in the inner man.
Then, after Jesus finished teaching, He was met by a leper who came to Him and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." Jesus simply stretched out his hand and touched him saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
What we're seeing is the fulfillment of Isaiah 61 which Jesus read as He began His ministry. But there were several other prophecies of scripture that foretold that when God's Messiah came He would be a healer. "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert." Isaiah 35:5-6.
What we’re going to see as we study through these verses is that there is a connection between healing and the forgiveness of sins. This chapter brings that to light for us very powerfully as we will see as we read through these verses.
The other theme that comes through this chapter and the whole book of Luke is faith. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. He taught them the words of life. He spoke of the transformation that God desired in their lives. Our response is to receive God’s Word and believe. That is part of God restoring what the “locusts have eaten.” Adam and Eve got into great trouble when they did not believe God and so strengthening faith is what God is doing also to restore our lives.
There are great personal lessons for each one of us as well. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved,” the scripture says. Believe that He died on the cross as payment for our sins, believe that He has the words of life that transform the heart, and believe because you see the demonstration of God's power and authority in Him.
I. He is Willing; Be Cleansed
- These few verses contain an amazing event that has sparked much debate over the years.
- But Jesus himself explains the purpose of what is happening here and it is important for us to receive it as well.
- The key to these verses is when He said to the man He healed, “Present the offering that Moses commanded for a testimony to them.”
A. Increase in faith by this testimony
- Leprosy was an incurable disease. If you remember our study in Leviticus, leprosy was also a picture of sin. When a leper came close to people he was to call out, “Unclean, unclean.”
- It's also important to understand that God gave Israel a provision in the Law so that if a leper was healed he was to bring an offering before God. This provision in the law had never been used in the history of Israel.
Leviticus 14:1-7, The law of the leper in the day of his cleansing.
- After healing the leper of his leprosy Jesus instructed him to present the offering that Moses commanded “for a testimony to them.”
- You can imagine what an uproar it would've made when this man appeared before the priests at the Temple; this had never happened before.
- It was a testimony so they would know that the Messiah had come. It is a testimony for us as well so that we would know that Jesus is the Son of God so that we might place our faith in him.
- Unfortunately, some have made the words, “Lord, if you are willing…” the central focus of this healing event. Jesus answered, “I am willing,” so they conclude that it is God's will that all should be healed here on the earth.
- But what they don't see is that God's purpose was to build a testimony that the Son of God, the promised Messiah had come.
- Does God heal today? Answer; absolutely. Does God always heal? Answer; no.
Illus - Some have suggested that since God is always willing, then if a man is not healed it is his own fault because he lacked faith. The result is that people are discouraged in their faith, but God wants faith strengthened.
- Paul himself asked for healing from God, but God had a purpose in allowing him to remain unhealed.
2 Corinthians 12:7, 9, … For this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh… And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
2 Timothy 4:20, Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.
B. Sickness originated from sin
- Leprosy is a picture of sin and so Jesus said to the man, “Be cleansed.” That is the greatest need that man has, far greater than our need for physical healing, for this body of ours will one day return to the dust from which it was made.
- When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, everything under their authority was affected by their sin. Even the earth itself was afflicted by corruption by their sin.
Romans 8:18-23 Creation itself will be set free.
- There is little room for disagreement that sickness is the result of sin coming into the world.
- Created as he was in the image of God, if man had not sinned, he would certainly not have suffered pain or weakness or disease in his body.
- Paul also makes it clear that death is the result of sin.
Romans 5:12, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…
- Death is sickness matured. Death is the result of sin; therefore sickness must also be the result of sin. If there had been no sin, there would not have been death or sickness.
- This is why the words, "Be cleansed," have such power and significance because they get to the heart of man's greatest need and that which stands in the way of man's greatest blessing.
C. Desire the relationship Jesus had
- In verse 16 Luke wrote that Jesus would often slip away into the wilderness and pray.
- The disciples saw the kind of prayer life that Jesus had with His Father and at one point they asked Him, "Teach us to pray."
- Imagine the joy that Jesus had in His relationship with His Father. He was free from the sin which so easily entangles and His joy was found in His relationship to God. This is the same that He wants for us as well.
John 15:9, 11, "Just as the Father has loved Me, I also love you; abide in My love... These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."
Illus – One of the parts to this story that should jump out at us is found in verse 13, "And He stretched out His hand, and touched him…" God wants that relationship with us and is willing to touch our messy lives to make relationship with us possible.
Illus - One of the things you find out right away when you have babies is how smelly they are, but when you love, you're willing to touch them and love them regardless of how they smell. How much more God is willing to touch our messy lives also.
II. He is Willing; Be Forgiven
- In the next scene, Jesus is teaching in a house and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there also listening to Him.
- Because of the large crowd, not everyone could come in. But there was a man lying on a bed paralyzed and his friends were trying to get him in, to set him down in front of Jesus.
- But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher; right in front of Jesus.
A. Faith pleases the Lord
- Seeing their faith, Jesus said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven you."
- First of all, I love how Jesus shows us that it was "their" faith. All of them together believed that help would come for their friend through this man of God.
- Right away you get the sense that Jesus is not bothered by this interruption or even by the fact that they just put a hole in the roof of the house.
- You can imagine a smile on the face of the Lord as He sees the great effort these men went through to help their friend.
- These men had faith that didn't stop at obstacles. Some people have the philosophy that if God is in it then there won't be any obstacles. But it's obstacles that test and strengthen our faith.
James 1:2-3, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
Illus – When I needed to speak in another city and missed my plane… I needed ten miracles all in the right order.
- God wants us to trust Him in greater faith and it pleases Him to see it in us.
Hebrews 11:6, "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."
- These men believed that God had provided a way for them to find help, and they were willing to put their faith into action.
James 2:20, 26, But are you willing to recognize that faith without [action] is useless? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without [action] is dead.
- When Jesus saw their faith, He said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven you."
- Here again we see that healing and forgiveness of sins are connected. Jesus heals the paralytic so that they would know that He has authority on earth to forgive sins.
- But this was also his greatest need. In fact, Jesus set the two in proper order when He said, "In order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins…<He said to the paralytic> Rise up and walk."
Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
- In fact, in the next scene that unfolds, Jesus calls a tax gatherer named Levi to follow Him and then Levi gave a big reception for Jesus in his house and a great crowd of sinners was there.
- But the Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax gatherers and sinners?"
- I love Jesus's answer, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."
Illus - Many atheists love the quote, "Faith is a crutch for the weak,” which is to say, "Those who are strong have no need for such crutches."
I suggest that the statement doesn't go far enough, faith is not just a crutch for the weak; it is a new heart for those who are dead. Jesus didn't come to call the mighty, the noble, or the strong; He came to call sinners, He came to call those who were dead to have eternal life.
Revelation 3:17, "Because you say, ‘I am wealthy and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…"
John 10:10, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
Luke 5:12-26 NASB