The Book of Luke, The Healing of the Leper and the Paralytic, Part I – Lesson 53
Luke 5:12-26, And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 13And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. 14And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 15But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. 16And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed. 17And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. 18And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. 19And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. 20And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. 21And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? 22But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? 23Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? 24But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. 25And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.
At the time of these healings it had been about one year since the Lord Jesus Christ’s public ministry had begun.
Luke, in chapter four, has emphasized his ministry to the multitudes of Israel and in this chapter we begin to see a ministry which begins to touch on the leaders of Israel.
And when truth touches error there is bound to be friction.
As the fame of Jesus Christ spread throughout the country the leadership of Israel becomes more prominent in Luke’s account.
In the healing of the leper in this morning’s passage Jesus Christ told the healed leper to show himself to the priest, and in this way his work is to be officially displayed to the priest, and in the healing of the paralized man his works are displayed to the scribes and the Pharisees.
We are given no information as to what was the response of the priests to the report of the healed leper.
We do not know for certain that the leper even went to the priest.
We do know that he did not obey the Lord about keeping quiet, so perhaps he did not even do what the law required, that of getting official recognition that he was cleansed.
The law was very specific in this regard but also the process toward being pronounced clean was very detailed and lengthy.
I could understand how a man who was instantly cleansed of this disease by the Lord Jesus Christ would not feel a need to be pronounced clean by a priest.
We don’t know about the priests but we do know that the teachers of the law reacted strongly to what they heard from our Lord in regard to the healing of the paralytic man.
The beginning of the opposition of the leaders of the nation which culminates in our Lord’s crucifixion can be found here in Luke 5 and we also will see some of the reasons for their opposition.
We will try to look in detail at the two healings which our Lord performs, to see what lessons were to be learned by the nation of Israel, and to learn the lessons which God has for us here as well.
Both of these healings have accounts by Matthew and Mark in their Gospels and each have a unique emphasis.
The Gospel writers are witnesses to the same events but like witnesses in court they tell of the events from their perspective and background and in accordance with the reason why they wrote the Gospel account.
Matthew’s record of the healing of the leper is very general and brief without much detail.
Mark’s account of the healing of the leper is longer and emphasizes Jesus’ compassion, his strong warning not to tell others, and the leper’s testimony.
The Leper’s testimony created such popularity that it practically forced Jesus to stay in remote places, yet Mark does not mention prayer by Jesus Christ in the remote places.
Luke emphasizes: the seriousness of the illness (full of leprosy), he emphasizes the crowds which came for healing and hearing, and Jesus’ withdrawal to the remote places for prayer.
All the accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke emphasize the humble appeal by the leprous man to Jesus when he said “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean… ”.
They also emphasize, the touching of the man by Jesus and his willingness to heal: “I am willing … ”, the instantaneous cure; (and Jesus’ warning not to tell others, and the command to go to the priest.
This command not to tell others certainly had in it the desire for Jesus Christ not to simply become popular because of the miracles and have his ministry hindered by the crowds who only wanted benefits.
In the story of the paralytic man, Matthew once again gives a very general account, not even telling us of the lowering of the man through the roof.
In our minds no author would leave out such an exciting event.
But as believers we know that all four Gospels are inspired and God breathed by the Holy Spirit, and he did not choose to put that detail in Matthew but he chose to put it in Luke.
These kind of things show us that the Gospel accounts are not man made but God made.
Matthew does tell us that Jesus came by boat to “His own city,” Matt. 9:1, so that we know the miracle occurred at Capernaum (cf. also Mark 2:1, “home”).
Mark adds the detail that the crowd in and about the house was so large that there was no room left, even outside the door (2:2).
Luke provides us with the very significant fact that many of those in the house were teachers of the law, assembled from all over Israel (5:17).
He also informs us that the “power of the Lord was present” at that time for Jesus to heal the sick (5:17).
Luke 5:12-16, And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 13And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. 14And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 15But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. 16And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
Luke tells us that this took place in a certain city but Mark fills us in that it was a certain Galilean city where our Lord came upon a leper.
Luke, the doctor, tells us that this was no ordinary leper, but rather a man “full of leprosy”.
While the term leprosy may have been employed for a number of different ailments, Luke wants us to know that this man was a hard case so he uses the words, full of leprosy.
We sometimes hear of people who have had exploratory surgery, who are found to be “full of cancer.”
This man was a hard case and in a very serious condition and could find no help except at the feet of Jesus.
God gives these examples of hard cases to us that the hard cases will know that he is a God that can and will cure hard cases.
We saw Peter in this same position as he also saw his great need.
The man prostrated himself (fell on his face) before the Lord Jesus and beseeched Him to heal him.
His appeal for healing shows a great deal of insight into the person of the Lord:, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
The leper did not doubt the Lord’s ability to heal; the only issue was whether or not it was His will to do so.
Many people who wish to be healed today could learn from this leper.
Many people today in some Christian circles would demand healing as payment for their faith.
But faith does not negate God’s sovereign will.
The critical issue was not the leper’s faith but the Lord’s sovereign will.
The leper revealed his faith by prostrating himself before the Lord Jesus Christ, and calling upon Jesus Christ’s will, knowing that He was able to make him clean.
He was calling upon a merciful and compassionate God!
So reaching out and touching the man, the Lord replied, I will: be thou clean.
Jesus Christ chose to heal the man, he could have chosen to not do so for his own reasons.
We concentrate upon that cleansing but we should also note here what Jesus Christ did in the simple act of touching this unclean man.
A leper was to be shunned and certainly not touched but don’t you suppose that touching meant a great deal to the leper.
How many years had it been since he had been touched?
But Jesus' touched the man before his command to be thou clean and he produced instant healing of this very serious disease.
Jesus did not command the man only to be healed, or to be whole, but He pronounced him to be cleansed.
It would seem that our Lord has therefore done that which an Old Testament priest could only do after a test period, to be sure that the man was indeed free of the disease.
When Jesus makes a man clean, there need not be a test period.
The man is to go and offer his sacrifice, and to be a witness to the priests, but apparently not to be pronounced clean (or at least this would only be a formality, a seconding of what our Lord had already done).
The Lord gives a very stern warning to the man, something which Mark’s gospel makes even more emphatic (“And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;,” Mark 1:43), instructing him not to make his healing public.
This command to be silent about such a great matter would almost seem to be a greater miracle than his healing.
Can you imagine being completely healed of leprosy and not having to answer an endless stream of questions?