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THE TOUCH THAT TRANSFORMS
Intro: This passage records one of the most powerful and amazing miracles ever performed by Jesus. In fact, this is one of only two recorded healings of lepers in the Gospels. The other is in Luke 17:12-19. Here, Jesus heals one leper, there He heals ten lepers. The healing of the lepers was one of the signs Jesus mentioned that proved He was the Messiah, Matt. 11:5.
In this wonderful account of the healing of this leprous man, we are given a glimpse into the heart of the Savior. We are allowed to see His compassion and His power on full display.
Let’s join Jesus in His encounter with this leper. Let’s watch Him as He changes this poor man’s life forever. Let’s also understand that what Jesus did for this man He can do for any person in this room today.
You may not have leprosy, but if you have a problem with sin; if you need a Savior; if you need help, there is a word here for you in this remarkable miracle. Let’s learn how Jesus transforms lives. I want to preach from this passage on the thought The Touch That Transforms.
I. v. 40 A SICK MAN
A. The Nature Of His Ailment The Bible calls this man a leper. This disease is known in our day as Hansons Disease. It is a highly infectious disease that was incurable in Bible times, but one which can be treated today. In Bible times, no other disease was as feared as leprosy.
· It affected the whole body.
· It usually began with fatigue and pain in the joints.
· Scaly spots would develop on the skin, as the disease progressed, the body would be covered with puss filled nodules.
· The appearance of the face would be altered, so that the sufferer would come to resemble a lion. Nodules would grow on the vocal chords so that the leper spoke with a raspy voice.
· The body was in a state of living decomposition, thus a terrible stench surrounded the leper constantly.
· Leprosy attacked the nervous system, compromising the body’s ability to feel pain. It acted as an anesthetic, numbing the body.
The leper might step on a stone or a thorn and injure his foot and be totally unaware that there was a problem. Infection would set in and eventually, the injured foot might just fall off. The leper might wash his face in scalding water and blind himself. He might reach into a fire to pick up a dropped potato and not realize that he had been badly burned. Rats and other vermin would often chew on sleeping lepers. One doctor in a third world nation would often send a cat home with his leprous patients after he had performed surgery on them.
· It usually ran its course in about 9 years.
· The sufferer usually died a horrible death.
· One of the worst aspects of leprosy was the social isolation it brought. The Levitical Law was very clear that a leper was very clear in its commands to lepers, Lev. 13:45-46.
· By the time of Jesus, the rabbis had added many more restrictions to the law governing lepers. If a leper even stuck his head inside a home it was considered unclean. It was against the law to greet a leper.
· When it was determined that a man had leprosy they would banish him from the village, he was no longer allowed to have communion with other people. He had to leave his family; he had to leave his friends.
· It was unlawful for a leper to approach within 50 feet of a clean person. If it was a windy day, the rule changed to 200 feet.
· He could not touch his family; he could only see them from a distance.
· Many families brought food and clothing for a while, but after a time, most families had a funeral service and regarded the afflicted person as a dead man.
· The leper had to tear his garments so people would recognize that he was a leper.
· He was to dress as a mourner going to a funeral service: his own funeral service!
· Over his upper lip he had to wear a cloth so he wouldn't spread the contamination and every time he saw people coming, the leper was required to cry, “Unclean! Unclean!.
· The leper’s cries would warn people that a leper was nearby and people would pick up stones to throw at the leper so he wouldn’t come near.
(Ill. In the Bible, leprosy is far more than a disease. It is also a type of sin!
· The leper was considered the embodiment of impurity. The external defilement of the disease was seen to represent the internal defilement of the heart.
· The leper was a living, breathing commentary on the effects of sin!
· No one here has leprosy, but everyone here has problems with sin.
Leviticus 13, clearly lays out the regulations for diagnosing and dealing with leprosy. Notice how leprosy pictures sin.
1. Leprosy is deeper than the skin - Lev. 13:3 - The outward manifestations of sin are merely a window into the heart, Matt. 15:18-19. People aren’t sinners because they sin; people sin because they are sinners!
2. Leprosy starts out small and then it spreads - Lev. 13:7 - Just as that leper may have seen a tiny white spot on his skin one day, it wasn’t many days until his flesh was consumed by that loathsome disease.
What a picture of sin! Look at David, 2 Sam. 11! A little spot of laziness and lust turned into a plague of adultery, unwanted pregnancy, lies and murder!
That little drink may turn into alcoholism. A little petting on a date could turn into an unwanted pregnancy.
Let down the walls a little here, allow a little sin there, and before you know it, your whole life has been ruined and ransacked by the devil!
3. Leprosy defiles everything it touches - Lev. 13:44-46 - When a man was stricken with leprosy, we was totally and thoroughly defiled!
Sin has a way of poisoning a person’s entire life. It will poison your family and your relationships. It will devastate and ruin everything it touches in your life!
Ask Achan if a little gold, silver and a garment were worth his life and the lives of his family, Joshua 7. Ask David if a few stolen moments with another man’s wife were worth the devastation and calamities that came into his family as a result.
4. Leprosy Isolates - Lev. 13:46 - The leper was isolated from the camp of the clean. He was forced to dwell alone on the fringes of society. Sin also isolates. It drives a wedge between family members and it separates the sinner from God, Isa. 59:2.
5. Leprosy destines things for the fire - Lev. 13:52 - Everything the leper touched was burned! So it is with sin! It destines those afflicted by it to the fires of eternal torment, Psa. 9:17!
B. The Nature Of His Approach What brought this poor man to Jesus? Perhaps he awakened in the leper colony that morning and heard the news that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Perhaps he heard the good news that Jesus had been healing the sick and casting out devils.
He heard the word somehow and faith was awakened in his heart. Maybe he said within himself, “If Jesus can do all those things for other, I am sure that He can heal me!
He made his way to where Jesus was. It took great courage for this man to approach the Savior that day. He risked stoning, humiliation and death to get to the Lord.
Can you imagine the reaction of the crowd as that leper began to push his way through? They must have scattered in horror, recoiling, as the leper approached with his cries of “Unclean! Unclean!
Surely, some of his fellow lepers tried to discourage him. they might have said, “You better stay here with us. Jesus won’t help you. He doesn’t care about a wretch like you. But, faith had been awakened in his heart and faith was pushing him toward Jesus.
(Note: That’s the way it works. The Spirit of God arouses faith in the heart of the lost person. That person sees his condition and realizes that the only hope he has is to get to Jesus. When that awareness dawns in the heart of a lost person, they will go through whatever they have to go through to get to Him!
When a lost person comes to Jesus, the devil says “You’re not worthy to come to Jesus! He is right! Your own heart says, Youre not worthy to come to Jesus! Your heart is right! But, dont let them stop you from coming!
You might not be worthy to come, but He will never turn you away when you do, John 6:37. That is the power of God’s amazing grace! When the flesh and the devils say, “You’re not worthy to come, they are right! But, when they say, He won’t have you they are dead wrong!)
C. The Nature Of His Appeal This man came to Jesus the right way. He came humbly and he came in faith, Ill. Psa. 51:17. He realized that he deserved nothing, but he knew enough about Jesus to know that if the Lord wanted to, He could heal his body. His words are filled with faith!
When this leper speaks, he acknowledges the Lord’s power, and the Lord’s sovereignty. He says “If Thou wilt. That statement acknowledges the truth that healing rests within the will of God.
He did not know what Jesus would do; he simply placed the matter in the Lord’s hand and left it up to Him. What faith! Then he says “Thou cast make me clean. This statement acknowledges Jesus and His power to heal. This man approaches Jesus on the basis of faith.
This man has reached the place where he knows he needs a miracle of God to deliver him from his disease. Apparently, he is in the last stages, Luke 5:12 tells us he was “full of leprosy. He was nearly gone and he needed divine intervention. So, he came to Jesus.
(Ill. If your life has been wrecked and ruined by sin, you need divine intervention too. You need what only Jesus can give you. You need a miracle! You need to do like this leper and get to the feet of Jesus!
If you will come to Him with a humble spirit and with a heart of faith, He will not turn you away. He will turn you around. That is His promise: James 4:10; Rom. 10:9, 13.)
II. v. 41-42 A SOVEREIGN MESSIAH
A. v. 41a The Messiah’s Compassion Jesus sees this poor man and He sees His condition. He does not shrink back in fear from the leper as the rest of the people are doing. He is not repulsed by his appearance or by his smell. We are told that Jesus is “moved with compassion.
Compassion is a word that refers to a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. When Jesus looked upon this poor, wretched man and saw his condition, His heart was stirred to action! In fact, the thought expressed here is “of love and compassion expressed to those in one’s own family.Jesus loved this man like others would love a brother, or a son! What love!
Then, Jesus did something very strange. We are told that He “put forth His hand, and touched him. It had been years since anyone had touched this man. It had been years since this man had held his wife or children. He had been isolated and alone!
To touch a leper made one unclean and was strictly forbidden by the Law. Touching a leper could possible cause the one touching to become infected as well. But, what did Jesus do? He touched Him!
I don’t know what that leper expected. Probably to be run off at best and stoned to death at worst. Imagine his surprise when Jesus reached out and touched him! Can you hear the crowd gasp in surprise and shock as they see Jesus reaching out to touch this unclean man? But, oh how glorious that one touch must have felt to this man! If there was any feeling left in his skin it must have felt like nothing he had ever felt before!
When Jesus touched this man, His touch said, “I love you just like you are and I am here to help you.” When Jesus touched this man, Jesus entered His world!
Others would never have touched a leper out of fear of contracting the disease themselves. Jesus, the cleanest man in the entire crowd, did not fear defilement, so He touched him without fear.
What was different about this touch? The leper could not transmit to Jesus the corruption of his disease. Deity cannot be defiled! When He touched the leper, Jesus transmitted to him the cleansing of His deity!
(Note: Did you know that Jesus is still touching lives today? It makes no difference who you are or what you may have done, you are not so bad as to be beyond His glorious touch.
When Jesus came into this world to die for our sins, He entered our world. He shared our pain and our suffering. He died on the cross and took our sins upon Himself that He might touch us and change us by His grace and power. He has compassion on you today and He will touch you, if you will let Him!
Have you experienced His wonderful, personal touch? Do you remember how it felt to be locked in sin’s dark dungeon, helpless and hopelessly lost in your sins? Do you remember how glorious it was when the Lord reached into the hell of your life and touched you?)
B. v. 41b-42 The Messiah’s Command Jesus simply touched the leper and gave a command for him to be clean. And, instantly, His leprosy departed. That deformed body was made whole in an instant.
The face was normal. The shattered hands and feet were restored to wholeness. The ruined skin was instantly as smooth as a baby’s. The defilement of his disease was immediately taken away. Everything changed when the Master spoke! That leper was given a brand new in that very moment.
(Note: That is what Jesus does when He touches a life! He gives the person He touches a new life instantly. He literally makes them into “new creatures by His amazing power, 2 Cor. 5:17. His gives them a “new birth, John 3:3, 7, and they are never the same again!
They are no longer outcasts, but they are taken in. No longer children of the devil, but children of God. They are no longer unclean, but they are “accepted in the Beloved. What a difference the touch of the Master makes! Has He touched your life?)
III. v. 43-45 A STRANGE MANDATE
A. v. 43-44 The Demand As soon as He had healed the man, Jesus sent him away. Ill. This is a strong term that means Jesus thrust him out of the crowd. What a contrast to how a modern faith healer would act. The faith healer would keep the fellow around for an advertisement. Jesus did not need advertisement, so He sent the man away. Why?
Jesus was trying to avoid a circus-like atmosphere around His ministry. He wanted the people to follow the message and not the miracles. He knew that when they saw a leper healed before their eyes, they would go wild and see Him as a miracle worker and not a preacher of the Gospel of grace. Also, contact with a leper would have also given His enemies ammunition against Him.
Jesus didn’t just send him away. He sent him to the priest at the temple. This man was told to go and fulfill the requirements of the Law for his cleansing.
This leper was to go and to present himself to the priest and get a certificate of cleansing on the basis of a ceremony in Lev. 14. The leper was to come to the priest and the priest was to go outside the camp where the leper was.
That's exactly what Jesus did for us. When we couldn't go to heaven where Jesus was Jesus came down here where we are. When we couldn’t get to God, God came to us! The Bible says in Heb. 13:12 that Jesus suffered without the gate, Jesus has come down here where we are, and on a hill outside the city of Jerusalem Jesus suffered.
Then, the priest was to take an earthen vessel, two birds, some cedar and hyssop. He was to kill one of those birds and let the blood of that bird pour into the earthen vessel Then the priest took the blood of the dead bird and applied it to the wings of the living bird. He then took that living bird, with the blood dripping from its wings, out into an open field and he let that bird loose and that bird would go flying up into the air.
The leper would see that blood dripping from the wings of the bird and he would understand the price of his cleansing and the message would come to that leper, “I am clean because of the blood.
(Note: There's only one element that can cleanse you from your sins today and that is the blood of Jesus. You say, “Well, my sins are so deep, but the Lord says, My blood goes so much deeper. Oh, but, Lord, my sins have gone too far, but He says, My blood has gone much farther. Oh, but, Lord, my sins are strong; Jesus says, My blood is so much stronger.” Just as that leper had his cleansing completed by the application of blood, so the sinner today is made clean through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, Rev. 5:9; 1 Pet. 1:18-19! “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!)
B. v. 44-45 The Disobedience This man was to go and show himself to the High Priest. Notice what Jesus says that this will be: for a testimony unto them. This is the first recorded cleansing of a leper since the days of Elisha, 2 Kings 5. The high priest had never seen a leper cleansed. He had never utilized the commandments given in Lev. 14. That day, the Priest was to be put on notice that there was a Man in town Who had the power to take away leprosy!
What a testimony it would have been when that poor old leper was glorious cleansed and applied at the temple for cleansing! This miracle would have notified the priests that the Messiah had come!
Sadly, the man disobeyed and what would have been a great testimony went untold. Jesus told the man to tell no one but the priests; the man went out and told everyone but the priests! Instead of crying out “Unclean! Unclean!; He cried out Clean! Clean! Look at me, I am clean!
The leper disobeyed the command of Jesus and, as a result, Jesus was forced to move His ministry into the country. Many who could have heard the Word of the Lord never did because of one man’s disobedience!
(Note: Now, I understand his excitement. What a thrill it is when Jesus changes a life! When He liberates a soul from the bondage of sin and sets that sinner free, the redeemed person wants to tell everyone!
But, when the Lord saves us, He saves us to live a life of obedience, Ill. 1 Sam. 15:22. When we disobey Him we not only damage our own testimony, we potentially bring dishonor to the Lord. One act of disobedience has the potential to hinder our Lord’s ability to minister!
Another thought that arises here has to do with our words. It is possible to say the right words at the wrong time and do great damage! We ought to pray for spiritual discernment when it comes to what we say and do for the Lord. The right words at the right time and be used of the Lord in wonderful ways, Pro. 25:11. However, the rights words at the wrong time can be damaging.)
Conc: Where does this message find you today? Are you like this poor leper before he was cleansed, afflicted and devastated by sin? If so, there is hope and hope’s name is Jesus! Come to Him and find cleansing and a new life!
Have you been cleansed and reminded of just Jesus did for you when He saved you? Are you grateful and what to thank Him? This would be a good time to do just that.
Maybe, like this leper, you have been cleansed, but there are areas of disobedience in your life. And, the Lord can’t use you to your fullest. Today would be a good day to get down before Him and get that right.
Wherever you are in your spiritual journey, He cares! He is ready to reach into your life and touch you at the very point of your need. He stands ready to help you, if you will simply come to Him in faith as this poor leper did!