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Moments With The Master Series
Series Introduction: A one reads the Gospels, it quickly becomes apparent that the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ was a people centered ministry. There are two verses that declare, in detail, our Lord’s mission statement. 1.) Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” 2.) Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Obviously, Jesus came into this world with the cross of Calvary in His heart and on His mind. He was literally born to die, John 18:37! The passage in Mark 10:45 does tell us about Jesus coming to “give His life a ransom for many”, but it also tells us that He same to this earth “to minister”. This word literally means “to serve” and it comes from the same word that gives us the English word “deacon” or “servant”. Jesus came to this world to die for men, but He also came to serve men.
This attitude of service is seen time and again in the personal encounters Jesus had while He walked in this world. Over the next several Sunday mornings, I would like to take a closer look at a few of the personal encounters of Jesus, as they are recorded in the Gospels. So, today, I want to begin a new series entitled “Moments With The Master”. I want you to see that moments spent with Jesus are powerful, life changing moments. As we observe Jesus and His interactions with the people of His day, we will see how He will interact with anyone who will take the time to spend some Moments With The Master.
A TRANSFORMING MOMENT
Intro: This passage finds the Lord Jesus in the midst of a tiring and trying preaching campaign. We are told in verses 21-34 that just the day before, Jesus had taught in the synagogue, v. 21-22; cast out a demon, v. 23-28; healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, v. 29-31; and healed many sick folks and delivered others from demonic possession, v. 32-34.
You would think that Jesus might need a period of rest after such a frenzied schedule. However, v. 35 finds Jesus up and in the place of prayer well before daylight. When His disciples find Him, He tells them it is time to go into the neighboring cities to preach, for that (ministry) was the reason He came to the world, v. 36-39.
In the midst of His preaching and teaching ministry in Capernaum, He is interrupted by a single man, a leper. It is this personal encounter that I want to focus in on this morning. While there were great crowds there to be healed, helped and taught, one man managed to get a Moment With The Master. Let’s look in on this scene and witness for ourselves A Transforming Moment.
I. V. 40 THE CONDITION OF THE LEPER
A. His Disease - We are told that this man, who approached the Lord Jesus was a leper. Of all the diseases and afflictions that devastated the ancient world, none was more feared or more fearsome that leprosy. A brief description of this horrific disease might be in order today.
The disease usually started with person beginning to feel a little tired. For no reason necessarily he would just have a feeling of fatigue, and then the joints would begin to get sore. And then that man one day noticed that little white spots were appearing all over his skin, just little white spots. And then those white spots begin to harden into nodules and they turned from white to pink to brown and became very scaly. And then those nodules began to spread all over the body; they would afflict the face first and the very configuration and the appearance of the face would change, and there would be wrinkles and nodules covering the face until they tell us that a man covered with leprosy like that would begin to resemble a lion.
And then those nodules would begin to ulcerate and they would filled with puss and they would begin to run all over the body and there was a foul odor that would be discharged from the man, it was a terrible stench, you couldn't even stand to smell the odor. And there was a taste in the mouth of the man that came when leprosy got hold of him. The nodules would cover his vocal chords and when he breathed there would be a wheezing sound as he breathed, and when he talked there would be a raspiness in his voice.
So, you see, this disease of leprosy just began to totally consume a man until a man's body became little more than a pool of slime. All over his body he would have these nodules. His eyebrows would begin to fall out, his hair would turn white, and inch by inch this man's body would begin to rot. As he walked he would leave wet spots where the puss would pour out of his feet and the extended members of his body would begin to fall out. Fingers would fall off and the toes of the feet would begin to fall off. And another thing about leprosy is that it attacked the nervous system in such a way that a man would lose all sensation of pain. So when a man got into the grips of leprosy he might accidentally put his hand in the fire and he would feel no pain and he'd burn himself tragically. And he'd step on a thorn maybe out in the path somewhere and he'd feel no pain as the thorn ran through his finger. So what a man became was a walking death. It lasted an average of about 9 years and a man finally just collapsed into a pile of corruption. It was a terrible physically debilitating disease.
As if this weren’t enough, the terrible social isolation that went hand in hand with this disease, must also be considered. 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.
He 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, from a distance, to cry, "Unclean! Unclean! Unclean!", and it would warn the people that a leper was on the premises and they would pick up stones and they would begin to throw the rocks at him so he would get nowhere around him. So here is the condition of this man, here is the picture of this man the Bible says was filled with leprosy.
(Note: This is a horrible image, and some may say, “Preacher, no one here has leprosy. Why do we need to hear this?” I would answer that this way: In the bible, leprosy is far more than a disease. It is also a type of sin! While no one in this room may be a leper, everyone in this room has problems with sin! And, of all the diseases mentioned in the Bible, none pictures sin any more clearly that does the disease called leprosy. In Leviticus 13, we are given the regulations for diagnosing and dealing with leprosy. Allow me to point out a few similarities between leprosy and sin.
1. Leprosy is deeper than the skin - Lev. 13:3 (So is sin! The outward manifestations of sin are merely a window into the heart, Matt. 15:18-19. You see, man isn’t a sinner because he sins. Man sins because He is a sinner, Rom. 3:23; Gal. 3:22!)(Ill. My grandfather’s watch. Looks good on the outside, but there is a problem with its insides! It doesn’t need winding. It doesn’t need a new battery. It needs a watchmaker to repair the problem. It needs something radical to happen within! So it is with the sinner! Quick, external, religious fixes won’t do the job! The lost person needs radical surgery in their hearts!)
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. Oh, what a picture of sin! Look at David, 2 Sam. 11! A little spot of laziness turned into adultery, an unwanted pregnancy, lies and murder! That little drink will turn into a big problem with alcohol. 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 smitten with leprosy, we was totally and throughly defiled! So it is with sin! Sin has a way of poisoning a person’s entire life. It will poison your family. It will poison 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!
It is easy to see why leprosy of the physical variety was such a big deal. It is also easy to see how that cruel and terrible disease pictures the horror of sin.
B. His Desire - So, here is this man. His life has been devastated by the scourge of leprosy. Perhaps he awoke that morning in the leper colony and heard that a man named Jesus was in town. Maybe he heard how this Jesus had healed all sorts of diseases and had even cast out demons. Maybe, for the first time in a long time, hope awakened in a heart conditioned to feel only hopelessness. You see, most people believed that leprosy was the “stroke of God”. That it was the direct judgment of God for sin in the lepers life. Leprosy was a cruel blow to a person’s self-esteem. It made them feel unloved, unwanted and uncared for. But, that morning, faith awakened in the heart of this leper and knew he had to get to Jesus. Whatever motivated him, this poor, wretched man began to hobble his way to Jesus.
Can you see the multitudes as they crowd around the Savior? Can you hear the commotion at the back of the crowd as the people realize that there is a leper in the midst? Can you see the crowd begin to part with cries of fear and disgust as this man passes through their midst?
He makes his way through the frightened crowd and stops within arm’s length of Jesus. He kneels before the Lord and declared to the Lord his desire. What he said to Jesus is very telling of his condition.
1. His words indicate a desire to be free from his disease.
2. His words declare his faith in Christ’s ability.
3. His words reveal his own sense of unworthiness before the Lord.
These three things are a picture of what should be in the heart of a sinner who wants to come to Jesus to be saved from their sins. There must a be a desire to be free from the sin that binds you. Conviction produces this desire in the heart of the sinner. There must be faith in the ability of Jesus to save the soul. This faith is God’s gift, Eph. 2:8-9, and it is produced in the heart of the sinner by the Holy Spirit. Then, there will always be a sense of unworthiness to come before the Lord. This a true, because none of us deserve to be saved. When we come, the devil will tell us “You’re not worthy to come to Jesus!” He is right! Your own heart may tell you, “You’re not worthy to come to Jesus!” Your heart is right! But, don’t let that 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!
This old leper 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, for Luke tells us he was “full of leprosy”, Luke 5:12. He was nearly gone and he needed divine intervention. So, he came to Jesus. Friend, if your life has been wrecked an ruined by sin, let me tell you that you too need divine intervention. 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!
II. V. 41-42; 45 THE COMPASSION OF THE LORD
(Ill. As the crowd watches, this leper falls down before the Lord and asks for a miracle. What will Jesus do? Will he also turn away in disgust? Will he call for the man to be stoned, as many people would have done? No! Jesus does the unthinkable: He shows this man compassion!)
A. As Revealed In His Touch - It has been years since anyone has touched this man. It had been years since this man had held his wife or children. It had been years since he felt the touch of a human hand upon his. It had been years since he had been able to kiss his wife. He had been isolated and lone! To touch a leper made one unclean and was strictly forbidden by the Law. Touching a leper could possible cause the one touching to be come 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. But, imagine his surprise when Jesus reached out His hand and touched him! He never expected that! 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!
But, others would never have touched a leper out of fear of contracting the disease themselves. However, Jesus, the cleanest man in the entire crowd, touched him without fear. What was different about this touch? The leper did not transmit to Jesus the corruption of his disease. Rather, Jesus transmitted to the leper the cleansing of His Deity!
(Note: Did you know that Jesus is still touching lives today? Oh yes, 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. Have you experienced His 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 good it felt when the Lord reached into the hell of your life and touched you? If you do, then you know the glory of His touch. If you don’t, you need to know that He will still touch you regardless of who you are, where you have been or what you have done!)
B. As Revealed In The Transformation - As soon as Jesus touched him he is made clean. His leprosy instantly departs and his skin is made a new and as fresh as a babies. He is literally given a new lease on life. He is given a new life!He can return to his loved ones. He can rejoin society. Everything changed when he felt the transforming touch of Jesus on his skin.
(Note: That is what happens spiritually when a sinner feels the saving touch of the Lord Jesus. Instantly, the blackness and deadness of sin is replaced with the life and the glory of God. The sinner is no longer lost, but found. Is no longer dead, but is alive. Is no longer an outcast, but is made a child of God! Lost friend, listen, just as Jesus changed this leper’s life and set him free from the bondage of his disease, Jesus can instantly and eternally change your life and set you free from the bondage and damnation of your sins! If you will come to Him, He will transform your life!)
III. V. 43-44 THE COMMAND OF THE LAW
A. The Demands Of The Law - This leper was to go and to present himself to the priest and he was to get a certificate of cleansing on the basis of a ceremony in Leviticus 14. Now over there in Leviticus chapter 14 here's what it says, it says that the leper was to come to the priest and the priest was to go outside the camp where the leper was. You see, the priest must help the leper understand the place of his cleansing. You see, the leper couldn't go in there where the priest was, the priest had to come out where the leper was. And, you see, that's exactly what Jesus has done for us. You see, when we couldn't go to heaven where Jesus was Jesus came down here where we are. See? The Bible says in Hebrews chapter 13 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.
And then that priest was to take an earthen vessel filled with water, he was to take two birds. Now one of those birds he killed and let the blood of that bird pour into the water, and then the priest was to take that blood and apply it to the wings of the living bird and then he took that living bird, with the blood sprinkling from its wings, out into an open field and he let that bird loose and that bird would go flying up into the air. And the leper would see that blood dropping down from 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.”
You see, friends, 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!
B. The Desire Of The Lord - Notice what Jesus says that this will be: “for a testimony unto them”. I would say that high priest had never seen a leper cleansed. I would venture to say that he had never utilized the commandments given in Leviticus 14. But, that day, he was put on notice that there was a man in town Who had the power to take away leprosy! What a testimony it was when that poor old leper was glorious cleansed and applied at the temple for cleansing! (Note: What a testimony it is when Jesus changes a life! When He liberates a soul from the bondage of sin and sets that sinner free, it is a glorious thing! It honors Him and it draws others to Him, notice verse 45! Everyone who had been set free from the bondage of sin ought to be out there “publishing the matter” and telling a watching world that Jesus sets sinners free and changes life forever! Ill. What a blessing the testimonies of the saints are! Not your whining, but you story of salvation can be used of the Lord to change lives!)
Conc: Friend, are you like that poor old leper? Are you diseased spiritually and need help getting free? Jesus Christ is still in the life-changing, soul-saving business. If He is dealing with your heart, you need to know that you do not have to live in your sins for one more minute! If you will come to Him right now, like that leper did, believing Him for your soul’s salvation, everything will forever change in your life. If God is calling you and you are ready for a new life, come to Him right now! Whatever your needs may be today, you come to Him and He will take care of you!