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Jesus Heals Many

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
January 21, 2024 12:01 am

Jesus Heals Many

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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January 21, 2024 12:01 am

As Jesus ministered in Galilee, multitudes came to Him in search of healing, but few came seeking truth. Continuing his exposition of Mark, today R.C. Sproul reminds us that the gospel provides something incomparably better than relief from physical pain.

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The multitudes were pressing to the door looking for healing, not for truth. They didn't come to Jesus to hear the announcement of the breakthrough of the kingdom of God. They didn't flock to Him so that they could listen to Him preach the gospel or expound the Word of God.

They came looking for improvement to their health and their suffering. Why do people attend church today if we examined the messages going out from pulpits, calling people to follow Jesus? What is the reason that is given that they should follow Him? Is it to flee from the wrath of God, to come to the only one who can make you claim? Sadly, many in the name of Jesus seek to draw unbelievers in with false promises, promises of health and prosperity. Welcome to the Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind where we feature sermons from the preaching ministry of R.C.

Sproul. People flocked to Jesus during His earthly ministry for many different reasons. Some came to trap Him in something that He would say. Others had heard of the miracles that He performed and they wanted to see them for themselves. And others came to Him in faith. Today as we continue this brief series in the Gospel of Mark, R.C. Sproul will preach on a portion of scripture that's moving as Jesus has great compassion and cleanses a leper. And Dr. Sproul will remind us of the ultimate reason why Jesus came. This morning we'll return now to our study of the Gospel according to Saint Mark, chapter 1 at verse 29, reading through the end of the chapter.

So I'd ask the congregation to stand for the reading of the Word of God. Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. But Simon's wife's mother lay sick with a fever, and they told him about her at once. So he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her, and she served them. That evening when the sun had set, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed, and the whole city was gathered together at the door. And then he healed many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons, and he did not allow the demons to speak because they knew him.

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, he went out and departed to a solitary place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and when they found him they said to him, Everyone is looking for you. But he said to them, Let us go into the next towns, that I might preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth. And he was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee and casting out demons. Now a leper came to him, imploring him, kneeling down to him, and saying to him, If you are willing, you can make me clean. Then Jesus moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, I am willing, be cleansed. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. And he strictly warned him and sent him away at once, and said to him, See that you say nothing to anyone, but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded as a testimony to them.

However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places, and they came to Him from every direction. He who has ears to hear the Word of God, let them hear. Please be seated. Let us pray. Speak to us now, O God, through this inspired text of sacred Scripture. May we come to an accurate understanding of it, that our lives may be informed, and that our souls may be strengthened as we feed upon Your Word. For we ask it in Jesus' name.

Amen. Mark tells us that immediately after Jesus left the synagogue in Capernaum, He went with Andrew and Peter and James and John to the home of Peter, which was clearly close by to the synagogue. Last week I mentioned the excavations of the synagogue in Capernaum and how that in the fourth century this magnificent limestone edifice was built upon the foundation of the first century synagogue, which was obviously the one in which Jesus preached and where He exercised the demon-possessed man.

Well, later excavations have discovered a building very close to that same synagogue, and dating back to the latter part of the first century and into the second century, there is all kind of sacred and religious graffiti written on the walls of this structure that was uncovered. It was a home but was unusually built in that the doors opened into a large area where people could gather, and historians and archaeologists are certain from their excavations that this home served as a church in early Christian times. And again with almost complete certainty, the verdict of the historians is that this excavated building was the very home of Peter. Now the account here of Jesus' healing, Peter's mother-in-law, is not that dramatic insofar as Jesus performs much more dramatic acts of healing in the biblical record. But what is interesting, two points at least interesting to me, is that obviously this particular event is supplied to Mark by his mentor from Peter himself, and that Peter is giving his own recollections of the way in which Jesus came and touched his mother-in-law and instantly made her well to the point that she was able to rise from her bed and begin to serve Christ and His disciples. The other thing I find somewhat fascinating is that though there's no mention here in the text of the presence of Peter's wife, she may have been dead at this time or she may not have been, but in any case in the Roman Catholic communion, the view is that Peter became the first pope of the Christian church and that the papacy is established on Peter. It's called the chair of St. Peter and so on, and the irony is that the first pope was married.

This raises some embarrassing questions of those who hold a view of imposed celibacy for clergy, and I'm happy that I can stand in the tradition of St. Peter by being married as well. But in any case, after this event of the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, we're told that evening after the sun had set that they brought to him this massive multitude of those who were sick and those who were demon-possessed, and we're told that the whole city, now this is hyperbole of course, but it means a huge throng of people came to the door of the home of Peter and Andrew, and that Jesus healed many who were sick with various diseases, cast out many demons, and did not allow the demons to speak because they knew him. And so just Mark mentions in passing that after this event of the healing in the home of St. Peter, after the sun had set and darkness came upon Capernaum, this huge multitude of people were brought to Jesus, those who were sick, those who were possessed by demons, and obviously He spent some time ministering to them into the late hours of the evening. Then Mark tells us that in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, Jesus went out, departed to a solitary place, and there He prayed. So that our Lord labored long the previous day, nevertheless awakened quite early in the morning, well before sunrise, so that He could distance Himself from this pressing mob of people and go to a place of solitude to refresh Himself by prayer. Three times Mark tells us of the prayers of Jesus.

Now obviously Jesus prayed more often than three times during His earthly ministry, but Mark gives specific reference to three occasions, and all three occasions take place at night and in a place of solitude where Jesus got to be alone with His Father. And then we're told after Jesus departs to pray that when Simon and those who were with Him woke up and they found that Jesus was absent from Him, they set out to find Him. And the force of the verb here is that they were on a hunt. They were searching high and low. It was not easy for them to find out where Jesus had isolated Himself for prayer. But when they found Him, they said to Him, everybody is looking for You.

It's a thinly veiled rebuke. Where have you been, Jesus? You don't have time to seclude yourself here in prayer. You have ministry to perform. Your fame is spreading everywhere, and the place is filled with seekers. Everybody of all around, everybody is trying to find you. Everybody is coming to you. How did Jesus respond to that? Did He say, oh, that's fantastic. Why don't we plant a church here?

Well, you have this wonderful multitude of people that are so excited that I'm healing their diseases. In fact, Jesus is saddened by the news. And He said, let's go to the next town, that I may preach there also because for this purpose I have come. The multitudes were pressing to the door looking for healing, not for truth. They didn't come to Jesus to hear the announcement of the breakthrough of the kingdom of God.

They didn't flock to Him so that they could listen to Him preach the gospel or expound the Word of God. They came looking for improvement to their health and their suffering. Now there's nothing wrong with people coming to Jesus out of their needs of the flesh, but Jesus makes the point here, that's not the chief end for which I've come. I didn't come to this earth to heal everybody's diseases. I didn't come here to perform miracles for everybody that was in need. I came to preach the truth that My Father has sent Me to declare to these people. And Jesus could tell that people were not coming out of faith to receive Him and His kingdom, but they were coming looking for relief from their physical pain. Sometimes we're just like that, that we come to God in prayer when we're sick, when our bodies hurt, and yet at the same time we don't have the same kind of pursuit of an understanding of His Word. And so Jesus said, these people are so caught up now in My power, they don't want to hear My Word.

So let's get out of here. Let's go to the other cities of Galilee where I can resume my ministry of preaching because that's why I came. Isn't that interesting that Jesus was not going to be diverted from His mission because everybody was screaming with popular applause for His power?

So that's not what I'm about. So Mark tells us that He went preaching in their synagogues throughout all of Galilee and casting out demons. Now we come to this portion that I find most moving in this section that we've read this morning where Jesus cleanses a leper.

And let's look carefully at this. We read in verse 40, a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him, and saying to Him, "'If you are willing, you can make Me clean.'" In the ancient world, there were seventy-two distinct diseases of the skin that were defined under the broad heading of leprosy. Which variety of leprosy this poor man had is not explained in the text. It may be Hansen's disease, the worst form of leprosy that we read about with leper colonies and that sort of thing in the modern day.

But any form of leprosy was tragic and disastrous for people in the ancient world. I'd like to take just a minute to go back to the Old Testament to a passage in Scripture that I simply do not have the time to read in its entirety, but I'd like you today, when you go home after church, if you will take the time to read the entire chapter 13 and chapter 14 of the book of Leviticus. I'm just going to give you a taste of it this morning. I don't know how many times I've talked to people, and I've asked them, how many of you have read the whole Bible, and not very many have? I say, how many of you have read Genesis, and most have? How many have read Exodus, and most have? How many have read Leviticus, and that's when the hands start going down? Because Leviticus is so strange to our ears, so foreign to our understanding, because in the book of Leviticus you get a detailed description of all of the fine points of the ceremonial laws that defined Jewish worship and behavior. And here's the kind of thing that we run into when we're reading through Leviticus.

I'll just read a little bit of chapter 13, verse 1. The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes on the skin of his body like a leprous sore, then it shall be brought to Aaron the priest, or one of his sons the priest, and the priest shall examine the sore in the skin of the body. And if the hair on the sore is turned white, and the sore appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it's a leprous sore, and the priest shall examine him and pronounce him unclean. But, if the bright spot is white on the skin of his body, and does not appear to be deeper than the skin, and its hair is not turned white, then the priest shall isolate the one who has the sore for seven days. Then the priest shall examine him on the seventh day. And indeed, if the sore appears to be as it was, and has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall isolate him for another seven days. Then I'll examine him again on the seventh day. And if the sore has faded, are you with me? And if the sore is not spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean. It's only a scab." Well, this goes on for two chapters, and that's where people start to go to sleep when they're reading this.

Is this the Word of God? This sounds more like a manual of dermatology that we have here in the Bible. Have you ever gone to the doctor and had a biopsy and then waited for the lab results? How scary it is when the doctor says, yes, it's malignant, and we're going to have to deal with that. How relieved you are when the lab report comes back and says it's benign.

But you remember, if you've had this experience, the anxiety that you went through waiting for the lab reports to come back. Well, if you were a Jew in the ancient world and you woke up one morning and you had a different sensation and appearance on your skin, it would strike terror into your heart. And the first thing you'd do is you would go to the priest, because it was the priest's job, using the guidance of God's Word Himself to determine whether this outbreak in your flesh was a harmless skin affliction or whether it was leprosy. Because it was leprosy, then that verdict would not only mean a dreadful physical malady that you would have to deal with probably for the rest of your life, but it was also the worst possible announcement you could hear with respect to your fellowship in your home, in your community, and in your church. Because if you were found to have leprosy, you were determined not only to be unwell, but you were pronounced unclean.

Leprosy was not healed in the ancient world. It had to be cleansed because the leper was now cast out of the covenant community, was not allowed near the temple, could not enter into the gates of Jerusalem. He had to live alone by himself, of course, without the fellowship of other lepers or anybody else under normal circumstances. He had to wear clothes that were falling apart and have his hair in a ghastly mode and cover the lower portions of his mouth so that he could be noticed from a distance that he was dressed like a leper. He was not allowed to come within fifty paces of another human being, and if he saw anybody else approaching, he had to cry out in the distance, unclean, unclean. Because if a leper was standing under a tree and I walked past the tree and didn't know he was there, I wouldn't be allowed home or to go to church, because now I would be expelled from the covenant community because I'd be contaminated by coming that close to a leper.

To be a leper was to be the ultimate pariah in the household of Israel. And this man had been to the priest. He'd been examined.

The sore had turned white, and the verdict was leprosy. So he left his family, his wife, his children, his home, and lived like a homeless person, isolated from all human contact. And he hears the shouts, the acclamations. Somehow the Word comes to him of this miracle worker named Jesus.

It's his last hope. He hears that Jesus is in the neighborhood, and he runs up to Jesus. He breaks the law of Moses. He breaks the law of the ceremony.

He approaches more than fifty paces. He comes right up to Jesus and cries out to Him, if you will, you can make me clean. I know you can do it. I don't know if you will, but please, Jesus, make me clean. Verse 41, then Jesus moved with compassion, and stretched out His hand, and He touched him.

What? Here the Lord Jesus Christ, the sinless One, whose meat and His drink is to do the will of the Father to fulfill all righteousness, here violates the ceremonial law. Because not only was the leper not allowed to touch a non-leper, but the non-leper was not allowed to touch a leper. But Jesus touched him.

Anticipating the controversies that would come after that, is it lawful to do good? And it also indicates that Jesus is the Lord of the ceremonial law, and that He has the authority to set it aside for His own redemptive processes. You know, sometimes you get into a traffic jam, and maybe there's been a minor accident, and the cars are on the side of the road, and the policeman shows up to direct traffic, and you come to the street corner, and the traffic light is red. But the policeman is standing there, and he's waving you through.

What do you do? The officer is telling you to disobey the sign. But we have this written into our laws that when the law enforcement officer is present, his presence supersedes the written law.

And so we must obey the embodiment of the law that is found in the traffic officer rather than the red light. And Jesus is the embodiment of the law and is the enforcer of the law. And in His compassion, He touches a leper.

He says, yes I can, and yes I will be clean. And Mark tells us instantly as soon as Jesus speaks the Word, the leprosy left Him, and He was cleansed. Again, don't miss the significance of the power of the Word of Jesus. Just as He would raise Lazarus from the dead, the means by which He raises him is by His Word, by His command. Lazarus, come forth. Just as God brought the world into existence by the sound of His voice, by the divine imperative, so Christ exercises that same divine imperative on this disease.

You know, there's a question about the Word that is translated here. He had compassion upon Him. It could be translated, He was angry. Not angry because the man violated the ceremonial law and came up to Him, but Jesus' righteous indignation against the ravages of the fallen world. Jesus' anger against disease.

He hated disease, and He cared for the person who was afflicted by the disease. I can do it. I will do it. Be clean. And then He strictly warned him, gave them several instructions. First He said, see that you say nothing to anybody. Go on your way, show yourself to the priest, make your offering for your cleansing of those things, which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them. Jesus is not just throwing away the law of Moses. He says, you know the law. Go back to the priest, make your offering, and have the priest declare you clean.

Do you realize how rare that was? The rabbi says it was harder to heal leprosy than to raise somebody from the dead. That was the rabbinic tradition. And yet Jesus said, obey the law, go to the priest, give the offering, and keep your mouth shut. Don't tell anybody about this. Now remember He had told the same thing to the demons to be quiet.

Why? Much has been said about the so-called messianic secret of Jesus, where Jesus frequently will say to those to whom He's ministered, tell no man. And we can guess why that was, but I think the context of what we've read this morning gives us a good insight into it. Everywhere He went, people completely misunderstood His mission. Completely misunderstood what the Messiah would do. They were still waiting for the champion that would deliver them from Rome, not for the suffering servant of God who would deliver them from their sins. And so Jesus was loath to make public His true identity, particularly early on in His ministry. Not only that, but if this leper goes out and tells everybody in the countryside that he was just cleansed by Jesus of Nazareth, every leper within the sound of his voice is going to rush to Jesus, and Jesus is never going to have time to do the mission that He has been called to do. And so Jesus said, I'll take care of you, but be quiet about this.

He couldn't, and He didn't. He went out and began to proclaim it freely, to spread the matter. Here is somebody who is an evangelist in disobedience. Jesus told him not to do it, but he went and did it anyway to such an extent that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city but was outside in deserted places, and they came to Him from every direction.

They came to Him from everywhere. I hope that people today will come to Him from everywhere, but not just simply to get released from their pain, but to come to hear His message, the message of Christmas, that God has come into the world, and unto us is born a Savior, who is Christ our Lord. Let's pray.

Let's pray. Father and our God, we thank You for the ministry of Jesus, for His anger against the ravages of sin, for His compassion by which He was willing to touch a leper, and He's been willing to touch us in our uncleanness. Despite our filthiness, He has touched us. We thank You, O God, for the touch of Jesus. Amen.

Amen. What a beautiful picture of the Gospel that we who were unclean are now declared clean because of Christ. This is the Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind, and I'm glad you're with us. Today's sermon is from a series that R.C. Sproul preached through Mark's Gospel at St. Andrew's Chapel in Sanford, Florida. Line by line, Dr. Sproul helped that congregation see the riches of this Gospel account by Mark. These messages served as the initial groundwork for what would become his expositional commentary on this Gospel. When you give a donation of any amount at renewingyourmind.org, we'll send you the hardcover edition of that commentary, and your support will help continue to extend the teaching ministries of Ligonier, including Renewing Your Mind in English and in Spanish. Show your support and add this commentary on Mark's Gospel to your library when you give a gift of any amount at renewingyourmind.org. As Jesus went about teaching and preaching, His healing ministry continued, and as He encounters a paralytic, the question is raised. Does Jesus have the power to forgive sin? That's what R.C. Sproul will consider next Sunday, here on Renewing Your Mind. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-21 02:44:46 / 2024-01-21 02:55:03 / 10

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