Monday, February 14, 2011

Unclean! Unclean! -- part 2

The Word for today:
Luke 5:27-6:11

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.

(Today we conclude a two-part article on the subject of leprosy, which is the Bible's most prevalent--and most instructive--picture of sin.  Yesterday we concentrated on leprosy as it was depicted in the Old Testament.)

Immediately after the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus was descending the mountainside, a faint "Unclean! Unclean!" began to be heard through the din of the crowd. As if the prow of a boat were moving through he throng, the leper made his way to Jesus as the people fell back, fearing contamination. He fell with his face to the ground.

The leper epitomizes the teaching that begins (Matt. 5:3-4) the Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn.
In this leper, the Word becomes flesh--and the Beatitudes become prophecy.

Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.
Aware of his condition, He did not ask for healing. He asked to be made clean. If he'd had any illusions of wholeness, all he had to do was hold the remainder of his hand before his eye and his illusions vanished. He saw himself as perfectly hopeless, apart from a divine work. There was nothing he could do to help himself.

"Unclean! Unclean!"
In another of the Bible's absolutely upside-down ironies, the leper's cry has shaped his whole psyche. He knows what he is, he knows he's helpless--and thus he is in the perfect posture to receive grace. God doesn't come to the self-sufficient, to those who perceive no need.

If you would come to Christ today, you would come by saying, 'Unclean! Unclean!' If you were to say, "I'm only partly unclean" or "I'm 25% clean," He will not receive you. That is the great tragedy of the comfortable today--we cannot accept that we are unacceptable. That is why the gospel is such an offense and a reproach. People don't want to be told that they're lepers.

Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.
He'd heard about what Jesus had done. He'd heard Jesus' words. There was no doubt in his mind that Jesus was omnipotent and sovereign. The only question was--Would He do it for him?

Sin controls people through two opposing lies.
The first is to say, "I'm pretty good, I don't have any need; I can make it."
The other is to say, "I'm so bad I'll never make it--I'm beyond the reach of grace. I am such scum that God can't do anything with me." But write this down: God is in the business of healing lepers.

The touch of exchange.
Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man.
Perhaps it had been twenty or thirty years since he'd known even one touch. His life had been lived at a distance. Skulking and lurking, he'd watched his children grow up from a quarter-mile away. But the separation--from man and God--was now over.

Why did Jesus do this--when he'd healed without contact before?
Christ's pure hand on the rotting leper is a parable of the incarnation and the cross: Jesus took on flesh, became sin for us, and gave us His purity: He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:21)

The healing was sudden and complete:
Immediately the leprosy left him.
 The toeless, ulcerated stubs that were his feet were suddenly whole. The knobs on his hands grew fingers before is eyes. Hair, eyebrows, eyelashes returned; and skin, supple and soft.

This is what Christ does today. In a split second of belief, the healing of Christ in salvation from sin is instantaneous and complete: The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from every sin (1 John 1:7).
He himself bore (your name)'s sins in his body on the tree, so that (your name) might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds (your name) has been healed (1 Peter 2:24).


No comments:

Post a Comment