The Book of Luke, The Healing of the Leper and the Paralytic, Part III - Lesson 55
The picture of the sinner is further amplified in Isaiah 64:6 and in that verse in the amplified version of the Bible the sinner is even compared to the leper:
First I will read the Kings James Version and then the Amplified Bible to follow:
Isaiah 64:6, But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Isaiah 64:6, For we have all become like one who is unclean (ceremonially, like a leper), and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment: we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away (far from Godís favor, hurrying us toward destruction).
So the picture of the sinner is clear and it is a picture of a leper that is full of leprosy.
The message is that there is none righteous no not one and this means that there is no part of me that is righteous for every part of me is corrupt.
According to the clear Word of God there is no good in me!
And until that is recognized by the sinner there is no hope of salvation for Christ came to save the sinner and not the righteous.
We sing the song that tells us how the sinner comes to Christ:
Just as I am, without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me, And that thou bidíst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come.
I remember before the Lord saved me that I considered changing some of my habits so that I could come to God in a better state, but my wife wisely told me that I could not get better for God.
I had to come just as I was for there was nothing I could do with the nature that I had.
It was fixed and un-repairable and God would not try to patch it up nor did He expect or equip me to do so.
There is no act, there is no life pattern, I have no ability to attone for my sin.
I can not be my own savior nor can you!
God had a new nature for me so the only thing I could do was to come just as I was and expect God to do the rest.
C. H. Mackintosh writes, ďIt is when the leper is covered from head to foot that he is on the true ground. It is there and there alone that grace can meet him. 13Then the priest shall consider: and, behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague: it is all turned white: he is clean.
Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. So long as I think there is a single spot which is not covered with the direful disease, I have not come to the end of myself. It is when my true condition is fully disclosed to my view that I really understand the meaning of salvation by grace.Ē
So Luke in chapter 5, records for us that this leper was full of leprosy, and therefore a fit vessel for cleansing.
It is a picture of the sinner who has recognized his true state before God.
Jesus commanded the former leper to go to the priest, as the law in Leviticus 13 & 14, in great detail instructs.
Along with obedience to the law by the man another reason for this is that this work of Jesus Christ was to be witnessed to the priests.
This cleansing would have been another testimony, among many other signs, that the Messiah had come as promised.
One thing you will learn in the Gospels is that Jesus Christ provided more evidence than any reasonable person would need to know that the Messiah had arrived.
Even though the former leper was instructed to keep this healing to himself the word of this miracle did get out, because the leper did not obey the Lord.
We would not know for certain that the news of this manís healing came from his own mouth from the accounts of Matthew and Luke.
But Mark fills us in here as Mark 1:45, indicates that the man spread the news of his healing abroad.
Mark 1:45, But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.
Not only does the man tell others but the telling of this good news is pictured as spreading like a blaze, an uncontrolled fire.
Mark does not mention that our Lordís seclusion in the wilderness was for the purpose of prayer, but Luke clearly says so in our passage in 5:16.
Luke alone informs us that Jesus frequently retreated to the wilderness for the purpose of prayer:
ďAnd he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed (Luke 5:16).
Those of you who have been involved in the Lordís work know how important it is to have fellowship with God though prayer.
It seems to me the deeper you go into the battle the more this is true.
The greater the step of faith, the more intense is the need for fellowship with God.
There must be a retreat under his wings in order for that faith to continue.
There must be a time of respite in order to continue the fight.
And I believe it was no different with Jesus Christ except he was infinitely deeper in the fight then we could imagine and he must needs go to the Father in prayer.
Jesus must have desperately yearned for fellowship with the Father and the more the multitudes demanded his strength the more he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
We have seen from the accounts at Nazareth and Capernaum that the purpose that Jesus Christ was fulfilling was not understood.
The multitudes flocked to Jesus, but with a distorted understanding of what he came for.
They were more interested in their own will rather than in what Jesus came to do, doing that of the will of the Father.
But only the Lord Jesus Christís Father understood and prayer brought these two together for a time of fellowship and communion between Father and Son.
The miracles and the misunderstanding of the people only intensified our Lordís longing to be alone with His Father.
It might even be said that the greater his successes in a natural sense, attracting crowds, popularity etc, the greater was the temptation to forsake the Fatherís will and to go another way than the way of the cross.
The devil tried to exploit this on many occasions.
Jesus Christ teaches us here that we can never completely depend upon ourselves to do Godís will but we must always be dependant upon the Father.
His withdrawal into the wilderness for prayer is our example to depend upon the Father if we are to be successful in doing Godís will.
It put His successes in perspective, for He did everything in obedience to the Fatherís will and in the power of His Spirit (cf. Luke 4:14).
These times with the Father kept our Lordís perspective and priorities in line with those of the Father.
How we put ourselves into dangerous places when we forsake this example of our Lordís retreat to solitude and prayer especially when we may have great success.
How easy it is to feel self-sufficient in success and forget that it is only in our weakness and His strength that Godís sufficiency is shown.
The fame of Jesus Christ continued to spread thoughout Israel and we are told by Luke that a gathering of important people took place at a particular house.
The house was filled with people, we are told.
Luke alone tells us who many, perhaps most, of these people were.
They were the ďPharisees and teachers of the law.Ē
Jesus had become a major threat to the teachers of the law, as Scripture in Mark shows:
Mark 1:22, And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Mark 1:27, Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ďWhat is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.Ē).
Jesusí teaching was immediately recognized as newer than, different from, and better than that of the scribes and Pharisees.
The Pharisees and the scribes were guardians of the teaching of the law and anyone who threatened their leadership in that area were suspect and they had gathered together to hear this man Jesus.
The popularity of Jesus was a threat to them and their standing.
The word about this new preacher and healer had no doubt been circulated among the teachers of Israel and this gathering at Capernaum was at least one of the summit conferences they called to decide what to do about the teaching of Jesus.
Luke informs us that it was no small gathering of teachers, but a representation of all the teachers in Israel:
Luke 5:17a, And 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.
The teachers of the law had gathered to hear Jesus, to pass judgment on Him, and then, undoubtedly, to decide what course of action to take concerning the threat which He posed to them.
Was his teaching in line with their teaching? Could be be controlled?
Would he join their denomination? Would he bow the knee?
Pharisees and doctors of the law out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea and Jerusalem would have been a large delegation.
This large of a delegation probably took up most of the inside of the house.