Sunday, February 13, 2011

Unclean! Unclean! -- part 1

The Word for today:
Luke 5:12-26

mark this:  Luke 5:12-13
Behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately the leprosy left him.

(Over the next two days, Stand in the Rain will range between Old and New Testaments in order to look closely at the subject of leprosy, which is the Bible's most prevalent--and most instructive--picture of sin.)

Leprosy is illustrative of the hopelessness and stench of sin. Of all diseases, scripture uses leprosy to represent sin more than any other.

The Messiah has power to deliver from the effects of sin.
Jesus healed physical disease in order to show before the scribes that he could forgive sin:
Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--he said to the man who was paralyzed--"I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home." And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. (Luke 5:23-25)

Two birds: The ritual for cleansing lepers. (See Leviticus 14:4-7, 49-53.)
The first bird is slain. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Heb. 9:22).
The blood is poured into an earthenware vessel--a jar of clay. (See 2 Cor. 4:7)
The second bird, dipped in the blood of the first, flies free.
[The Bible student will see a prophetic picture of the gospel--the death and resurrection of Jesus--in this ritual (1 Cor. 15:3-4). He will also see himself here--as the leper upon whom the blood is sprinkled.]

Full of leprosy. (Luke 5:12)
Leprosy is a painless hell. Leprosy-today known as Hansen's disease--is not a rotting infection. Hansen's disease destroys the body's warning system--the pain. It is an anesthetic that numbs the nerves, so that the leper might wash his face with scalding water, or grip a tool so tightly that a hand is traumatized, or reach into charcoal embers for a baked potato. Then infections take place and pretty soon the appendages are damaged. In third world countries, vermin will chew on lepers.

The poor man in Luke 5 had not been able to feel for years, and his body, mutilated from head to foot, was foul and rotting. If we could see ourselves apart from Christ, we would see that sin has invaded every part of our being.

"Unclean! Unclean!"
The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, 'Unclean! Unclean!' As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp. (Lev 13:45-46)
Apart from Christ, we are excluded from the fellowship of the family of God. (See Eph. 2:12-13.)

Dead men walking.
Lepers were treated as if they were the dead. But the leper is no more sinful than anyone else.

According to Ephesians 2:1, we are dead in our transgressions and sins. The spiritual world sees us shot through with the horrifying effects of sin. Even our righteousness--our three-piece suit, so to speak--is as filthy rags and make us waste away (Isaiah 64:6-7).

The featureless, faceless, anonymity of sin.
The ears and noses and fingers of the leper would fall away.
Sin is neither distinctive nor self-expressive. It robs beauty, uniqueness--and lumps us in with the rest. The extremities of the absolutely individual "snowflake" fall off, leaving an indistinguishable middle, a stump.

And God saw that it was not good.
Sin is life by man's design, man by his own hand. Death is by man's design, by his own hand.

(to be continued tomorrow...)

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