If you would have your Bibles in turn with me in Matthew chapter number eight, when you find your place, if you would also honor the Word of God as we stand in reverence for this great book of God's. Matthew chapter eight, we're going to read the first four verses for our text today as we have been working through the Gospel of Matthew.
over the last year and a half. People say, how long are we going to be in Matthew? Well, the Lord may come back, so I don't know how long we'll be in, right? Verse one says, when he was come down from the mounts and great multitudes followed him, and behold, there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou can make me clean. Jesus put forth his hand and touched him, saying, I will be thou clean.
And immediately, his leper was clean. And Jesus saith in him, see, thou tell no man, but go thy way, show thyself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded for a testimony unto them. Father, your word is our joy. God, we pray that it would be our wisdom, our understanding. Lord, I pray today, Father, we pray that if anyone is lost, that they might be saved.
Even Wednesday in this room, there was a some folks in the room. Yes, we were praying for a gentleman to be saved, and today he came and trusted in Christ just in the last hour. Lord, a prayer works, and so we cry out to you today for divine mercy, to be granted for all that are here. Those watching online, I pray that you would move in our hearts. Be God here today.
Be great here today. Shake us for God. Help us to see reality in light of your truth.
And not the haze in the midst of America's culture. May we cast our eyes upon what really matters. And may Jesus be the Lord of our lives. And we ask all this in Jesus name. And God's people said, then you may be seated this morning. Well, over the last year, we have preached through the great Sermon on the Mount that spans from Matthew Chapter five through Matthew Chapter number seven. This morning, we see the Lord Jesus Christ descending from the great mountain that he was preaching from there at the north end of the Sea of Galilee on the border of Capernaum.
There are some context. It's important for us to see as we enter into this this morning because we had been in such a long season through one area of the Lord's life through this sermon. It was kind of a parenthesis in this ministry. Jesus ministered for about three years. He lived in typical life up to about 30, and then he began to minister the gospel from 30 to 33. The Bible tells us in Matthew eight, verse one, that he came down from the mountain and great multitudes followed him. And if you were to read through the Gospel of Matthew, you would think that this is just the very beginning of his ministry. But really, he's been in the ministry now preaching and teaching and healing for about a year, though this ministry was really a launch of his preaching public ministry. You've been doing that on smaller settings. If you would hold your place that are Matthew, you just flip back to Matthew chapter four.
I want to highlight a couple of things that will be helpful for you. At the beginning of Matthew three. Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist, who is the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. After Jesus was baptized, he went into the wilderness in Matthew four, verse one through 11 to be tempted by Satan for 40 days. It wasn't being out of the will of God that brought that temptation. It was him being in the will of God. Sometimes you will face great challenges in your life, not when you get out of God's will, but when you are in his will. But God kept him and he is God and he overcame the temptations with the word of God.
It is written, he would reply. Then when you get to verse 11, if you have a pen, you could write between verse 11 and 12 one year. And it's one year of ministry of our Lord elapses between Matthew four, verse 11 through Matthew four, verse 12. And where we find that segment of his ministry is in John chapter number one, verse 19 through John four, verse 42. You could also write that section of scripture down so you could read through Matthew, jump over there, read that and come back. But John one, verse 19 through chapter four, verse 42 of John's Gospel.
There are some things that happen that are helpful for you to understand the context of where we come to in Matthew eight. In John two, that is not recorded in Matthew's Gospel. Jesus does his first miracle at Cana at a wedding, turning water to wine, and he manifested his glory. John two eleven says this is the beginning of miracles to Jesus in Cana of Galilee. You read the apocryphal books, it talks about some miracles Jesus did as a kid, but that's not true.
His first miracle was here. The apocryphal books are not scripture. They're just historical.
Some errors are found notably in them where the Bible has no errors, right? In John two, Jesus goes into the temple. He cleanses the temple, turns the money changers tables over. This provokes a man named Nicodemus to come to Jesus in John three and ask some questions of Jesus. And Jesus says, you must be born again and you have a great evangelistic chapter in John three. By the end of John chapter three, John the Baptist ministry begins to go off the scene. God's purpose for John the Baptist was coming to a conclusion. He was to be the forerunner for Christ. And when Christ came on the scene, he was to remove himself from the scene. And that's what he does. And that's what God allows to happen. His disciples begin to become followers of Jesus and John the Baptist is excited by this. He says he must increase, but I must decrease.
Isn't that the right heart for us to have? And so John the Baptist was a bridge between the Old and the New Testament. Once that bridge was complete, he was taken out of the way. He's cast into prison. You pick up in Matthew four, verse 11, going into verse 12. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into the prison, he departed into Galilee. He had been ministering in Judea, the southern portion of Israel. Now he moves into Galilee. I have some pictures for you so that you can kind of see some of this in a practical sense.
I have that first picture we could show. So down here in this northern area, we have the Dead Sea. You have Jerusalem just right over here, Jericho as well. But you have this southern portion is known as Judea. The middle portion is known as Samaria, the Samaritans were from. Then you have the northern portion known as Galilee. This is the Sea of Galilee. It's about 13 miles long, 6 miles wide. And an estimated population of about 2 million people in that surrounding area. Jesus grew up right over here in Nazareth, which is about 75 miles from Jerusalem.
So that's a little bit, you can keep that picture up there as I'll refer to that a little bit. So Jesus, after he had done the first miracle of turning water to wine, he ends up going down to Jerusalem. He casts over the muddy changers tables. John the Baptist is cast into prison. Jesus doesn't want to provoke an early attack against himself. So he journeys back up to Galilee. But on his journey, you come to John 4 and it says he must needs go through Samaria. That's where he meets the woman at the well in Sychar and ends up, she becomes a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. What's so interesting about that is the Jews despise the Samaritans and they treated the Jews in the same sense of contempt. But Jesus intentionally goes through Samaria where a lot of these Jews would journey around those cities when they would go to Galilee or back to Jerusalem.
But he intentionally goes through there. And what is also fascinating is this Samaritan woman is the first person he reveals his messiahship to. Showing that the gospel is not just for the Jew or the Gentile, not for men or women, it's for all the world.
Amen. Now Jesus then goes to Cana where he had previously performed a miracle and he does his second miracle according to John 4 verse 54 by healing a nobleman's son. Jesus at some point returns back from Cana down to Jerusalem at one of the feasts. They had three major feasts during those seasons. They had the Passover in the spring Pentecost and then the Feast of Tabernacles as well.
They had different feasts throughout the year. So he came back down to Jerusalem. And if you were to read John chapter 5 that is in the setting of him being back in Jerusalem.
That's about a 60 mile journey for him. From there he goes back to Nazareth which again travels by foot 60 miles back to Nazareth. Where he preaches his first sermon in his hometown of Nazareth.
And you would have thought that they would have been excited and receptive but they're not. The first sermon he preaches is in Luke 4 and they take him to the edge of the city to cast him off headlong down a mountain to kill him. You imagine the first sermon you preached your congregation tries to kill you.
You would think that's a little bit of something went wrong but he did everything right. The problem was not with the preacher the problem was with the hearts of the people in Nazareth. And so Jesus leaves Nazareth and the Bible tells us that he goes to Capernaum and to Galilee. And he sets his home base up there in Capernaum. The city of Capernaum was the home of four fishermen.
And their names were Peter, Andrew, James, and Kay. You guys know that. And then we got a couple more pictures here to go into. So this is the Sea of Galilee a little closer to Capernaum. You can see it's on the north end of that area. And the next picture is actually a live picture of what is there today.
This is the city of Capernaum. And I was telling the Life Group this morning that I taught. I went through the entire Bible this morning in Life Groups.
I went through all 66 books. So if you, yeah isn't that a miracle? And we're still here.
And half of them passed out, but that's okay, you know. But Nahum is an Old Testament prophet that preached against the Jewish people and against judgment to the Jewish people. But he preached judgment to the Gentile nations. And because he preached judgment, you remember Jonah preached judgment to the city of Nineveh. But God brought redemption to them. And so they didn't name a city after Jonah. But Nahum preached judgment upon those Gentile cities. And God rained down judgment because they wouldn't repent. And because they didn't repent, the Jews named a city after Nahum. And it's called Capernaum, which we refer to as Capernaum. And this is that city. This is a synagogue that's there today. I actually stood right there and preached just to my wife for like five seconds.
I said get a picture of me here. But the foundation stones, they believe of this rebuilt synagogue that was rebuilt hundreds of years ago. I don't remember the exact date. But they believe those were the same foundation stones that were there in the synagogue when Jesus preached there. They also believe that, without a doubt, they said that this is the home of Simon Peter. Now, this is not what it looked like, you know, 2,000 years ago. They built this big protective area over that. But this is the city, and you see they're right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
So you can kind of have an idea. You need to know when we read the Bible, we're reading about literal places. These are real people, real events. And do you know they have found that there has never been an archaeological discovery that has gone against Scripture. But, in fact, they have found hundreds and hundreds of places and cities from the biblical narratives. They've read through the Scripture, went and they found that those cities are underneath the ground. They find them.
They discover them. The Bible is true archaeologically. It's true, by the way, of the sea beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, Matthew calls it there in Matthew 4, verse 15. So Jesus launches his ministry, not only ministering through Samaria, but now he goes to a place where there's a mixed multitude of both Jews and Gentiles. Now, the gospel first went to the Jew, but also to the Gentile. And Jesus was showing immediately that the gospel is open to all people. It was also a heavily populated area, about two million people.
They estimated living around that region, around the lake area there. And also, the Bible prophesied that Jesus would minister in Galilee of the Gentiles, according to the Book of Isaiah. Now, if you look at verse 23 through 25 of Matthew 4, this is what Jesus was doing before he preached the Sermon on the Mount. And this ties exactly into what we see in Matthew chapter number 8, verse 1. Just follow along in verse 23 through 25 of Matthew 4 so you understand what was going on. Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, just like that building I showed you, and preaching in the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria. They brought unto him all sick people that were taken with diverse diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy, and he healed them. And there followed him great multitudes. Morias is the word. It's the largest designation for crowds. You can translate it as 10,000, but it's beyond that.
It was the highest designation they had. Great multitudes of people from Galilee, and Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, from Judea, and from beyond Jordan. Then Matthew 5 through 7 is Christ preaching a really launching sermon with that massive group, the Sermon on the Mount. He gets done with the Sermon on the Mount, and look at chapter 7 verse 28 and 29. It says at the end of the sermon, and it came to pass when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished.
And I told you in the Greek that word means literally like in our present vernacular, it blew their minds away. They were blown away by his sermon. And the people were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one having authority and not as a scribe. Jesus came declaring ultimate reality to the citizens of earth. This is heaven's truth for us, and it just blew them away, his authority. And what we find in chapter 8 and 9 is Jesus' authority over disease. There are nine miracles that happen in chapter 8 and 9, and then he gets into his authority over demons, and over people's lives, and over sin, and over tradition, and over death, and even over his own death. His resurrection happens through Matthew's gospel. And so today we're going to see in verse 1 through 4 the stamp of the Lord's divine authority over disease, as he shows his power over what was known as leprosy as we get into that today. I just have four simple truths to break down this passage.
We'll first look at the unlikely worshiper in verse 1 and 2. It says in verse 1, when he was come down from the mounts and great multitudes followed him, and behold, there came a leper. Leprosy is talked about around 40 different times in scripture. It should be noted that leprosy in Jesus' day is not necessarily the same disease that we call leprosy today.
Diseases have the ability to mutate. While leprosy in that day included the horrific disease of leprosy that we will talk about, it also included some other physical skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and even elephantitis. Among Jews, several skin diseases were classified then as leprosy. Today we call leprosy Hansen's disease. And one form of leprosy is extremely unique to this disease where most diseases will cause pain in your body. The disease of leprosy or Hansen's disease, we call it today, is actually a disease that attacks your nervous system. And it keeps you from feeling any pain.
According to doctors, this is actually what makes it so tragic because God has given us our nervous system as a warning sign of a problem so that you can address that problem. I'll never forget, years ago I saw a special where during the Super Bowl, this is years ago, one of the men had hurt his ankle really bad, one of the offensive linemen. And they gave him enough cortisone shots in his ankle that he didn't feel anything. He finished the game. He went to the hospital afterward and found out to his horror, he had literally grind his ankle bone down to where they had to amputate his foot for a game. So when football coaches say, ignore the pain, say you're a fool. And I'm a testimony to that because I have an ankle that has been destroyed because of such things. But I remember a guy in our church years ago who was battling diabetes.
He's gone on since to be with the Lord. But he had recently had his roof redone and there was a nail out in his yard. They did not see a roofer's nail and he was out mowing the yard, push mowing it. And because he had diabetes was so advanced that he couldn't feel his feet and ended up stepping on that nail, went all the way into his foot and he mowed the entire yard with a nail in his foot.
And it wasn't until he had taken off his shoe in the house that he come to the realization of what he had done. Pain can be a great thing. It's a warning sign, friends. In that day, leprosy was the most dreaded disease of the ancient world. It was called the scourge of the ancient world. People that had leprosy were called the walking dead. Let me give you a doctor's view of this who specializes in leprosy this last century.
Dr. L.S. Huzinga writes, The disease which we today call leprosy generally begins with pain in the certain areas of the body. Numbness follows. Soon the skin has such spots loses its original color. It gets to be thick, glossy and scaly.
As the sickness progresses, the thickened spots become dirty sores and ulcers due to poor blood supply. The skin especially around the eyes and ears begin to bunch up with deep furrows between the swelling so that the face of the afflicted individual begins to resemble more of a lion. Fingers begin to drop off and are absorbed. Toes are affected similarly.
Eyebrows and eyelashes drop out. By this time, one can see the person in the pitiful condition as a leper. By a touch of the finger, one can also feel it. You can even smell it. The leper emits a very unpleasant odor. Moreover, in view of the fact that the disease-producing agent frequently attacks the larynx, the leper's voice acquires a grating quality. His throat becomes hoarse and you can not only see, feel and smell the leper, but you can hear his rasping voice.
And if you stay with him for some time, he said, you can even imagine a peculiar taste in your mouth probably due to the odor. You know the Bible gives us a graphic view of this, and it tells us that leprosy is a picture of us as sinners, that our sin is like leprosy. It just is a loathsome thing.
It's a horrifying thing. Dr. Paul Brand, who's a world-renowned expert in Hansen's disease, writes of how people thought that leprosy or Hansen's disease would eat away your fingers and toes and your nose and even parts of your body, your limbs, could sometimes be removed because of it. But what he found in his studies over the last century in Asia and Africa was not that the disease eats away and kills those parts of your body to where they fall off. He said, actually, because you lose your nervous system, he said people literally rub off their fingers, they rub off their nose because they cannot feel it. People will take a hot rag to wash their face in the morning and they don't feel the heat and they'll literally lose their ability to see.
Because of that, it just destroys their entire body. Studies have shown also in recent years that this disease can be passed on through the air, which is a reason why you see in the Bible Leviticus telling us that they would be separated in leper societies. Leviticus 13 tells us here, And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, his head bare, and he shall put a covering over his upper lip to not pass on that and shall cry, unclean, unclean, all the days wherein the plague shall be in him.
He shall be defiled, he is unclean, he shall dwell alone, without the camp shall his habitation be. So not only were you subjected to the physical trauma of the disease, but you were also separated from society. You would be removed from your family because you would never want your family to come down with this.
It would be like Ebola, which causes you to go into isolation, but in this sense, you would go into isolation the rest of your life. I mean, this is tragic. This is life-altering.
This is absolutely devastating. Could you imagine the day that you found a white spot on your hand and your wife comes up to give you a hug and you say, Honey, you need to stop right there. I need to go see the priests who were also the health inspectors of that day to find out they would put you aside for seven days. They would re-examine it. It went away. They knew it wasn't.
If it continued to grow, they would re-examine it after seven days. They did this until they found out for sure if it was leprosy or not. And if it was leprosy, there would have been a day when you would have had to go tell your sobbing spouse, standing next to your children, crying out, Why can't I go see Dad? Why can't I give Dad a hug?
Because you'll never hug him again. This is the life of a leper. This is tragic. This is heart-wrenching.
This is a person who many times would have wanted to die. Let me ask you, how do you respond to tragedy? How do you respond when life just comes down on you and it hurts so bad? Anybody ever blamed God before? Did I blame God? And I think we probably all have at times at different levels. When you look back and say, How did blaming God help anything?
It didn't help anything, did it? You know what the Bible tells us about blaming God for pain? Job chapter 1 verse 20 says this. After Job lost his children, after he lost his health, after he lost everything, it says, Then Job arose, rent his mantle, shaved his head, fell down upon the ground, and he worshipped, and said, Naked came out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, but blessed be the name of the Lord.
That is just astonishing. And then God's word says this in verse 22. In all this Job sinned not, and read the rest with me if you would, nor charged God foolishly. You know when we blame God for things that happen to us in life, God says that is so foolish. You know why it's foolish? Because it's of his mercies, we're not consumed. It's only his grace that is the reason we are still living.
The Bible says it's foolish and wrong to do this. And when you look at Matthew chapter 8, notice how verse 2 starts. It says, And behold, the word behold in the gospels is a way of grabbing your attention. It's like a divine highlighter saying, Pay close attention because something important is about to happen. Charles Spurgeon writes, Behold is a word of wonder.
It's intended to excite admiration. And what does Matthew tell us to behold? He says, Behold, there came a leper and worshipped him. That is shocking.
That is not normal. I mean, who in that condition becomes a worshiper? The Bible tells us in Luke's account of this story, Luke gives a record of this as well as Mark. Mark 1 verse 40 through 45, Matthew 5 verse 12 through 14 both give this account. But in Matthew or in Luke chapter 5 verse 12, it says, 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. The word worship here in Matthew chapter 8 verse 2 is the Greek word proskuneo.
It means to prostrate yourself before someone that you might pay them reverence, that you might worship them. Out of the thousands of people that day, out of the thousands of people when he comes down from the mountain, there is one man the Bible records as being one who came to worship him. And it's the man who has the worst life in the entire crowd.
It's the man who has lost more than others. And his response is worshipful. And do you also notice his worship preceded his healing? Christ had done nothing physically for the man yet and he's worshipping. Because his worship preceded the healing, his worship would have continued without the healing. So not only do we see an incredible worshiper, but we also see an incredible request.
Verse number 2, it says, Saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. I mean, that's impossible. Who asks that? It's like having no leg and coming to somebody and saying, Hey, if you want, you could give me another leg.
Like, who do you say that to? That's insanity, isn't it? I mean, that's ridiculous. I mean, this man most likely had fingers gone, toes gone, perhaps even a hand gone, nose removed.
I mean, face looking like a lion. This guy could be a mess at this point. I mean, you don't ask that kind of a request unless you have what? You have to have some faith. You have to have some faith that believes that the person you're asking has some serious power.
Like you have to believe they can do something that no one else could possibly do. The man's faith in Christ was greater than his faith in the power of the disease. He saw Jesus more capable of healing his body than leprosy's power to keep him bound. And also notice the man had more faith in the power of Jesus than he did in the love of Jesus.
Did you notice that? He had more faith in the power that Christ had than he had in the love that Christ had for him. That's why he says what he did.
Look what he says. He worships him saying, Lord, if thou will, thou can make me clean. I know you can make me clean. I know you have the power. I just don't know if you have the willingness.
I know you can do this. I just don't know if you would care for somebody like me enough to do that for. And we would say, like, why would this guy struggle with that? Well, you need to understand this. The Pharisees, the religious leaders in that day, taught that people who had sickness and disease, especially leprosy, were in that condition because of divine judgment. You're sick because you have some kind of sin in your life. You remember when they came to the blind man in John 9? They said, who sinned, this man or his parents? And Jesus said, neither sinned.
This was the mindset. And you need to also understand that because of that, people did not look on those with leprosy, with compassion. They looked on them with judgment, like you deserved it. I don't know what you did, but you deserved the disease you had. Rabbis in that day even wrote and spoke in their writings, we still have them today, they wrote about how they would take stones and throw at the people who had leprosy saying, go back to your own communities.
This is how they were treated. I've heard of your miracle power. I know you have the power.
This man has been so far removed from people loving him. It was too much for him to think that, how would you be willing to do that for me? But if you are willing, I know you can do it. I just don't know if you are. I wonder today if there's anybody at Lighthouse that says, God, I know that you can forgive sins, I know that you can save people, I know that you can change lives, but I just don't know. I know the wreck that I've been, I know the mess that I've caused in my life. I know how great my sin has been.
I don't know if you would be willing to forgive someone like me. That's where this guy is. He knows the power's there, he just doesn't know if the willingness is there. And we would think the first thing that Jesus would do is say, oh, I'm willing, but that's not what Jesus does. What he does is even more shocking. Verse number three, and Jesus put forth his what?
His hand, and what does he do? Touches him. You're not shocked by this, but I can tell you in that day when that happened, the crowds would have gone, oh.
You would have had thousands of people just blown away. He just touched him. How long do you think it had been since somebody touched this man? You know, in that day, law required that you had to stay at least six feet away from every person if you were a leper, even from your family. And if the wind was blowing, you had to stay a minimum of 150 feet away. This room's like 100 feet, had another 50 feet to that. That's a long way. These people were isolated.
These people were separated. You know, when this guy comes to the crowd, people, you imagine somebody bumping into the guy? The only way he got touched was by an accident, right? But the Lord does the unthinkable. Jesus doesn't say anything first with his mouth.
He says something first with his hand. You know, when I was reading about the condition of leprosy, some here today may have thought, you know, I really don't want to hear how terrible this was. I really wish Pastor wouldn't talk about the level of, you know, smelling the guy or just his lion parents, his hands and all this stuff.
That's just kind of making me sick. I don't want to hear about that. You know, I felt like Pastor may have crossed the line a little bit talking through that. That's like a grotesque detail.
We didn't come to church to hear about that. What may have caused your ears and your stomach to get sickened, Jesus waits and says, bring him on. And he doesn't get grossed out by it. He puts his hand on it.
Puts his hand on the man. You hear me? We can be so self-righteous, so elevated. We read the Bible and we just skip through. Jesus says, you have no idea what this man has gone through. You have no idea what his life has been.
You don't want to hear about his condition. Let me tell you, there's a whole lot more to this man's story than what people understand when they glance through the scripture so casually. When I'm studying about leprosy, I'm like, I really don't want to study this disease because it's kind of grossing me out. And then you begin to study through this and I'm like, Jesus put his hands on what's making me sick to read about.
What a God we serve. You know, human beings were created to be loved, weren't we? You ever known somebody that's been neglected?
Maybe you've gone through neglect. Some of you may be familiar with such horrific things, such as what the Socialistic Republic of Romania did to people. They deprived hundreds of thousands of children from being touched and held.
Their last communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, was rightly publicly executed by a firing squad. After 24 years of cruel leadership there, he had built child galleys in which an estimated 170,000 abandoned infants, children and teens were raised in. And they found that such abandoned children devoid of human touch caused incredible psychological, physical, mental, emotional problems. Some of the pediatricians who went there write about it. They said, when we went in there, we saw kids that were 20 years old.
They look like a six-year-old child, three and four foot tall, bodies not grown. You know the first thing they do when a baby's born, what do they do? They take that naked child, they clean it off, but then they place it on the chest of the mother because it regulates the child. Even from birth, isn't that right, mothers? They bring that child, even from birth, that child needs your flesh against them.
We were created for touch. And when you rob that from people, I can tell you, one of the doctors after the early service said, Josh, what's interesting, cardiologists, there's been studies among cardiologists where somebody was going through different surgeries and different things and who came out of that. They found that their heart regulated at certain times and they went back and studied that out and they said it was every time the nurse came in and checked their blood pressure. When the nurse put their hands on that person, it immediately brought their heart down to regulation.
Isn't that something? Pet scans, they found the same thing. The brain literally quiets itself just by a human touch. We don't know how many years this guy went without being touched. All I can tell you is that day Jesus Christ put his hand on that man, could you imagine the jolt that went through his body? Let me remind you, this guy is proskuneo, his face is on the ground. He doesn't see anything coming. All of a sudden, he feels the hand of God upon him.
I mean, I can't even put myself in that position, God's blessed me with so many people that just are loving, gracious. I was reading about Dr. Paul Brand, the 20th century pioneer medical missionary in India. He saw the firsthand stigma associated with leprosy. He said during one appointment, he touched the patient to reassure them that the treatment was possible. He said the man burst into tears.
Even the nurse there said these are tears of joy. He says this has been a long time since anybody's touched this man. We don't know how the man responded. We don't know what his tears would have looked like, but I can tell you that man felt the touch of God upon him.
And if we would long for the touch of man and embrace. You ever been in a situation where you're hurting so bad, you don't need somebody to talk to you, tell you a story, just need somebody to give you a hug? I've been in a lot of places where somebody lost a loved one, somebody found out they got cancer, or somebody's child was in an accident, just different tragedies. People ask me, what do you say in those times? What do you say to people? I tell them I say more with my body than I would with my mouth. They just need somebody to come up, put their arm around them, say, I love you, and you don't have to say a word.
You just need to be there. They don't need Romans 8.28 quoted to them. They need Romans 8.28 lived out to them. Sometimes we've got to live the scripture, don't we? We live in a cold world right now, don't we? We live in a world where people will beat somebody up, leave them for dead just because of some prejudice or some kind of hate or some kind of... We live in a world where teens will mock and beat up and somebody commits suicide and they laugh about it. I mean, we are living in a twisted, demonic, evil society right now.
It is so wretched at so many levels. Some of you have come in today hurting. Some of you have come in today and you've felt the sting of rejection by perhaps family, society, different ones. I can tell you, when you come to Lighthouse, Lighthouse family, we need to make sure we love one another, hug people, greet them with kindness and affection. You find in the New Testament, they greet each other with a holy kiss. Now, I'm not promoting going around kissing each other, right? But I can tell you this, and I say this with all sincerity. When I went to Honduras on a mission trip, I hugged people all over this church. I mean, in a gracious and modest way. But in Honduras, I mean, they come up and kiss you on the cheek and give you a big hug. I mean, men, women, it don't matter. Well, just the women, the men don't kiss you on the cheek, I guess. They'll give you a hug, and I remember when Eric Woodworth, he's a missionary down there now, the first girl came up to give him a hug, and it's just how they greet each other. I mean, he's like stiff-armed her, you know? And then he realized, you know, this is okay.
But I can tell you, when I came back, this has been years ago, when I came back from there, I said, man, that was such a warm community. And you know, in America, we just, I fear that we just don't take time for people. We don't slow down enough. People go out to dinner with their wife, and they're looking at this. Leave these in the car. Is that a good idea? What are we going to do? We might talk.
Hey, here's a suggestion. Write down three or four questions that you might ask while you're sitting at dinner. One good question could be, you know what, we've been married for this many years. You know, what are some of the best memories you feel we've had over these years? Reflect on them. What are some things that maybe in a bucket list you'd like us to do the next 20? Is there anything I could do to be a better husband?
And then pull your book out and begin to write those down. Spend some time talking about stuff that really matters. I guess having done so many funerals in my life, I find that people miss that. You know, I've been to a lot of funerals, done a lot of funerals where people at the end of it will stand up to their family and say, you know what, we don't do this enough. I'm tired of getting together when somebody dies. We need to get together before people die. Say that's good. That's right. We need touch.
We need love. This man felt the touch of God's hand upon his life. I also remember that this man came to Jesus, he would have had to say unclean, unclean. Do you think that would have cleared the road? I mean, if this was a Jewish church back in those days and this guy came in, y'all would have left, right? I mean, did somebody yell fire? No, they yelled leper. I mean, they scattered.
People were going. There would have been a large walkway for this guy to come to Jesus. But Jesus doesn't scatter.
He stays right there. And he not only touches him, but also you see his willingness. He says in verse number three, he touched him and how much that touch would have said to the guy. And he says, and I will be thou clean. Mark gives us a record in Mark one, verse forty one of this story. It says, and Jesus moved with compassion, put forth his hand and touched him and saved in him.
I will be that clean. Jesus was moved with compassion. Often in the gospels, he was moved with compassion.
You know, we should be moved with compassion for the people of this world. We should long to see our loved ones say long to see those that are hurting come to know a God of grace. And we serve a compassionate God. Lamentations three twenty two says it is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed because his compassion's fail not.
They are new every morning. Great is his faithfulness. Every morning we could wake up and say, God, the reason I'm not consumed today, the reason I'm saved and I'm still your child is because your mercies are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.
Man, if you start there, do you think you would start with a little bit better day? Friends today, we're all lepers without Christ. We have a disease that has destroyed us. But I want you to know, no matter how bad your disease has affected you, no matter how much sin that you've piled up in life, you have a God that this morning is willing to show you compassion. If you would come to him, cast your life before him, worship him, you would find the hand of a God who loves you reaching down and saving your soul today.
And notice his power. The verse number three says he said, Be thou clean. Notice he doesn't say be healed.
He he because leprosy was a defiling thing. It Jesus says you're clean and immediately his leprosy was cleansed. You know, Jesus didn't say, you know, in two weeks or two weeks from now, your symptoms should improve. We're going to talk about a little bit about healing, real healing versus the fake healing of what goes on today in so much of the world. You say you don't believe God can heal. Oh, I believe God can heal.
We just saw it there. I know God heals people, but I don't believe in somebody standing up on TV having big miracle crusades. Jesus heals this man. He's immediately healed.
I've heard people today say, you know what? God healed me. You know, I'm feeling so much better.
You know, I'm about 50 percent better right now. Well, then God didn't heal you because when they're healed in the Bible, they were 100 percent healed. Sometimes God uses pain for a purpose, doesn't he? We saw that this last Wednesday in church. Let me go to a final point.
We'll be done. Jesus then leaves the man with a simple command. Look what he says in verse four. Jesus saith in him, See thou tell no man, but go thy way. Show thyself to the priest. This is lined out in the book of Leviticus 13 and 14. They were to go show themselves to the priest. The priest was the health inspectors of the day.
They were trained in that. They were to offer a certain gift, which was there was there was doves they would sacrifice. There was a whole process for that laid out in scripture. And he says, I want you to do this to be a testimony unto them. That Jesus didn't come to destroy the law, but to fulfill the law. Now, do you think it would be hard for this guy not to tell anybody? You're like the most miraculous thing ever happened in your life, and he's like, I don't want you tell anybody. I like what Wiersbe said.
He said, one thing is certain. Jesus did not perform miracles to get a crowd. We're having a big miracle crusade.
Invite everybody. That's not what Jesus did. I like what Brunner wrote in his commentary. He said, Jesus will not storm Israel with his messianic claim. Instead, he will not quietly at one at its door.
One leper by leper, little by little. He just how he did it. And so this man is to go to the priest not to tell anybody. And you say, why didn't Jesus want him to tell anybody? Well, you need to understand, John the Baptist was already thrown into prison. Antagonism against Christ would have been rising. If the priest knew that Jesus had healed the guy, then they would be very slow to pronounce the guy being clean. How would that have affected that guy? You're not going home because you're not declared clean because you ran your mouth. They could push against that. But if you came to them and they didn't know who healed you, they would just say, yes, you're clean.
You have no leprosy. Who did this? And then he would say, Jesus did this. What a testimony.
They would have been trapped. They would have no way to deny his power. But tragically, you know what this guy does? Mark's gospel tells us. Mark 1 verse 43.
Listen to what he says. And he straightly charged him forthwith and sent him away and saith in him, see thou say nothing to any man, but go thy way, show thyself to the priest and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them. But he went out and began to publish it much in a blaze abroad, the matter and so much that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places and they came to him from every quarter. Sadly, the man chose to be disobedient.
He just couldn't hold it in. You know what he did? He did what we would have done. He did what we would, and we just struggled to obey God. Let me ask you today, are you obedient to the Lord? Is there anything in your life right now that you're knowingly living in disobedience to God for?
Do you come and receive from Christ, but then you leave disobedient to him once he blesses your life in some way? Flipping your Bibles to Luke chapter number 17. I want to close here with just a few verses, Luke chapter 17. This is the story of 10 lepers who come to Jesus, and it says in verse 12, and as he entered into a certain village, there met him 10 men that were lepers and they stood afar off, must have been a windy day, and they lifted up their voices and said, Jesus master in that raspy voice, have mercy on us, and when he saw them, he said unto them, go show yourselves unto the priest, and it came to pass that as they went, they were cleansed, and one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back and with a loud voice glorified God. How did he glorify God?
He fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks, and oh, by the way, he was a Samaritan. Notice how Jesus responds to this in verse 17, and Jesus answering said, were there not 10 cleansed, but where are the nine? There are not found that return to give glory to God save this stranger. Only one of the 10 came with a loud voice, worshiping God, bowing down, giving Christ thanks, but where are the nine? And if only one out of 10 came to worship, do you think that statistic would be any different today? And why do so many forget to worship? Well, the nine really didn't have a schedule until they met Jesus, and then boy, they had a lot to do now.
You know, they need to get back, show the priests, they need to get back to their families, they had a whole lot of stuff going on. Jesus, thanks for what you've done for me, but I need to get on my way. I have a packed schedule now.
Stupid things need to take a backseat because you don't realize how much I have going on. I would get up and read and pray. I would be faithful to church. I would seek the Lord, but I just got so much going on right now. Sure, sure you do.
So do 90% of everybody else, right? Warren Wiersbe rightly said, too often we are content to enjoy the gift, but we forget the giver. We are very quick to pray, but very slow to praise. Jesus says, where are the nine? What would the Lord say of you today? Would He say you're one of the 10 that you come and worship? You come and bow down. You come and honor the Lord, but where would He say, you know what? After I've blessed you, you seem to have forgotten.
You worship me very little. And I want you to know this in Luke 17, what the other nine who left didn't understand was Jesus had more to give. He wasn't done giving. Luke 17 verse 18, it says, they were not found to return to give glory to God, save this stranger. And He said in him, arise, go thy way. Thy faith hath made thee whole. That phrase made the whole literally means your faith has saved you.
It's a Greek word that's made whole is normal New Testament word for being saved from sin. Nine of the men were healed externally. One of the men was healed both externally and internally. Do you understand that Jesus has more to give? There's more He wants to do if we just would take time to worship Him, to seek Him. Often God can work, but people don't always worship.
I would also say this, you know, those nine men could have gone their whole life saying, you know what? I believe in God. I know I'm saved because I've seen Him work in my life. I know I'm saved because I've seen Him work in my life. Those nine could have said that the rest of their life, but they were not saved.
Listen to me very close. Many times God will show you compassionate grace, do something in your life, maybe even supernatural, something in your life saved you from a car wreck, saved you from some health situation, kept you from, and in you great compassion, you say, I know God had to be, He's the only one who could have done that. Just because He did that doesn't mean you're saved. It just means that there's a compassionate God who says, I want you to see that I'm compassionate. Now come and worship me so that you might be saved. There were a lot of people that were healed in the days of Christ.
Very few were saved. Let me ask you, are you a worshiper? When's the last time? Proskuneo means to literally bow down like prostrating yourself is the idea. That's where we get the word prostrate from you. You bow down. When's the last time you literally bowed before the Lord? I had an 88 year old precious lady in the early service who came to me and said, you know, I was just down on my knees yesterday just worshiping the Lord. I said, praise the Lord. Some of you say I can't come to the altar and kneel down because if I did, I'd never get back up. I understand that you don't have to come down to an altar to kneel to worship the Lord, but every day we need to find ourself humbling ourself worshiping Him.
You believe that? So as I close, leprosy is a picture of sin. You know, friends, we are just like that leper. Without Christ, we are in a helpless and hopeless condition. And it is when a leper recognizes their need of the Messiah of the Savior, when they came to Him, He's the only one that can cleanse them.
You know what? For most people, if they touched a leper, it would defile them, but when Jesus touches a leper, He cleanses them. When He touches our sin, He cleanses us. We have a God who's not only able, but He's willing today. Why don't you come today? If you're not saved, we'll have men and women standing down there and at this door as well.
I'll be down front. Say, Pastor Josh, I need to give my life to Jesus. I've done a lot of wrong things in life. I know that if I stood before God, I wouldn't be right with Him. I need Him to be the Lord of my life. I want to turn my life fully over to Jesus Christ.
Today, let that be your day. Maybe today you say, I just want to come and take a moment to worship Him, whether at your seat or at an altar. Why don't you take some time to praise Him? We're also going to have a time where you can come and get the elements for the Lord's Supper and return to your seat during our invitation time. After you've examined your heart, if you're saved and you're in right standing with the Lord, if you've examined your life and you know there's no open and known sin that you're violating God with, then I would encourage you to come and partake. It's important to be a part of honoring the Lord's Supper because you're honoring what He did on the cross, His broken body, and His blood that was shed.
Let's all stand this morning. Father, our joy is in you. You don't have to heal us for us to worship you.
You're intrinsically valuable. You are worthy of worship no matter what you do for us. But because you have touched us and you've healed us from our sin, you've saved us. May our life be lived out with vertical worship. May we celebrate you every day of our life. And we pray now that you would search us, know our hearts, try us, know our thoughts, and if there's any wicked way, lead us in the right way. I pray right now if there's anyone that's not saved that today would be the day of salvation. We pray, God, that we would honor you as we would observe the Lord's Supper today. Bless this invitation. I pray once lost that today would be the day they would come and trust in Christ and Jesus.
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