If Jesus Christ is not who He claims He is, we who believe in Him are to be pitied. If Jesus isn't the Savior, this man doesn't have a prayer. He doesn't stand a chance.
His life is only going to become worse. I couldn't help but think, listen, isn't that true for us? If Jesus isn't the Savior, we don't have a prayer.
We don't stand a chance. We are the Apostle Paul wrote. We are, if He isn't authentic and legitimately the Messiah, we are of all people most miserable. The Bible tells us that because of our sin, our situation is terminal and incurable.
We are in desperate need of rescue. So here's one of the most important questions you need to ask about Jesus. Can Jesus pull off what no one else on the planet can? Is He the sovereign Savior who's worthy of us risking everything as we place our faith fully in Him? Can Jesus do what He claims He can do? Today on Wisdom for the Heart, we're taking a close look at Jesus who offers us a cure for the incurable. That's the title and the theme of Stephen Davies' message today. A few years ago, I was flying back from a conference and was on that last leg, which I always look forward to.
It's the Charlotte to Raleigh leg, briefest of all. And I had my Bible out on my tray and I was reading. I know that sounds really spiritual. Honestly, I was behind on my Bible reading for the year and I was cramming to catch up. But a young woman was sitting next to me and she noted the Bible, mentioned to me that she had one as well, which opened the door to begin to talk with her. And she told me that she had been raised in a Protestant church and her husband had been raised in the Catholic church and as far as they were concerned, they had their bases covered. And so I had the privilege of doing what I love to do and that's showing her from the Word of God that her church and my church and the church in general cannot save anybody.
I told her the church wants to throw a little water here and there and maybe an extra service or ceremony and a few candles and maybe check off some boxes. But our problem is deeper. It is corrosive. It is terminal. We are broken.
We will die because of it. I turn to begin to show her some verses in the first chapter of Romans about the sovereignty of God before whom all mankind will stand and without any excuse. And then took her into Romans 2 and the conscience of mankind, which tells him he's wrong. He's doing something bad. There's an intuitive sense of right and wrong. There's a moral consequence to this that he suppresses but it keeps bubbling back up. She would often exclaim, I've never seen this before.
I've never heard of this before. And then the plane touched down. I wish it had been a longer leg. I hadn't even made it to Romans chapter 3 but we had to wrap it up. I could tell she was struck with the realization that religion in general leads you to check off boxes and hopefully do a good enough job that maybe if you're lucky and God isn't so detail oriented, you get in. That would be like Humpty Dumpty.
Wouldn't it be sitting down at the bottom of that wall getting out a big bottle of Elmer's Glue saying, I think I can fix this. The Gospel means you and I are entirely helpless and hopeless. There probably wasn't any condition more telling of that condition in Israel's early history and into the world's own history is that disease known as leprosy. For the Israelite, it spelled judgment.
According to Levitical law, the leper would live outside the camp. He essentially lost all contact with his family, his friends, his loved ones, his nation for centuries. This particular disease baffled the medical community at an unknown origin, a painfully destructive process that brought on a slow painful death.
E.G. Masterman wrote a couple of generations ago, no other disease reduced a human being for so many years to so hideous a wreck. It would begin with a loss of sensation to some part of the body. The nerves would be affected. Muscles would not activate and they would atrophy and waste away. Sometimes the tendons would contract and the arms draw in and the hands become like claws. Ulcers would break out on hands and feet beginning there. Eventually body wide, those ulcers would develop and in their development, let off a foul discharge. The eyebrows would fall off and the vocal cords would become ulcerated, the voice becoming hoarse and the breath described as wheezing extremities like ears and nose, fingers, toes and feet would become infected and diseased and, without the feeling of pain, become ulcerated and eventually even fall off.
The duration of the disease could last anywhere from 20 to 30 years. It was the kind of death, one author wrote, in which a person died by incions at a time. Death was certain. In fact, even in the medieval period throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, if a man became a leper, the priest would bring him into the sanctuary one last time and read over him his burial service informing him that he was, for lack of better terms, a dead man. During the days of Jesus, no one feared any disease like they feared leprosy.
They would come no closer to a leper than about two feet, if that. When Jesus began his ministry, even the rabbis would throw stones at lepers to keep them at a distance. It was known that if food was bought and a leper had walked down that same street, people would throw the food away, so fearful of contagion. One historian remarked during the days of Christ that even the rabbis were known to take to their heels at the sight of an approaching leper lest they become defiled.
Leprosy became, perhaps more than any other disease over the centuries, the perfect illustration of the corruption and the corrosive, the terminal nature of sin and the inability of mankind to heal himself, the need for someone outside of them to bring them cleansing. So it's no surprise then that when Jesus began to reveal his deity, his demonstration to heal, and not just heal anybody, but the shocking, sovereign, magnificent display of his power in healing lepers was unmistakable, undeniable evidence that he was who he said he was. In fact, when John the Baptist was imprisoned, John at the lowest moment of his life, having courageously defended the Lord, and now he's imprisoned, he'll die soon beheaded at the whim of Herod, he sends a message to Jesus by way of his disciples, and the message is so pathetically despairing, he said to him, are you the one or should we begin to look for another one? And Jesus sends back to John this faithful messenger, the message that among other things said John, don't overlook the fact that lepers are being healed. His power to cleanse away what had become terminal became an illustration of his ability to deal with sin, which for all of us is terminal, and define himself as true Messiah.
So as we prepare our hearts even this Lord's Day to remember our Lord's death and rescue of our own sinful estate, let me have you take your copy of the New Testament if you have one with you today and turn to the Gospel by Mark. You'll find in chapter 1 that this is the first recorded Jew being cleansed of leprosy by the Lord. Matthew chapter 1 and verse 40, just the opening lines read, and a leper came to Jesus beseeching him and falling on his knees before him. Now the Gospel of Luke included this same event as did Matthew, but Luke, more than likely given the fact that he was a medical doctor, added a footnote, added a medical comment to this account that it just wasn't a leper that he was covered with leprosy. That word could be translated, he was full of, he was filled with leprosy, which is a very telling poignant statement.
In fact, Luke will use the same word a chapter earlier in chapter 1 where he talks about Jesus being led into the wilderness, being full of the Holy Spirit. He uses the same phrase. So this leper was filled with, he was under the devastating effects of this disease. It was another way of saying this man was near the end of his life.
That's what he's telling us. He'd had this for 20, 25, maybe 30 years with this debilitating disease. He probably didn't have much time left.
So for a moment here, before we rush on, let's go back and enter this scene. There's an unwritten volume here about this man's life. Had he been married, had he had children, which wouldn't be too far of a stretch of imagination, it had been 25 to 30 years since he had held his children, since he'd had a meal in his home, since he'd hugged his wife.
He had from a distance watched them grow up and grow old. He would be known by his children as that man out there, that beggar who is always saying unclean, stay away, which the law required. Sin, like leprosy, rubs us, doesn't it?
It cripples relationships. It gladly takes us further and further in corruption, an unholy state, a lonely state, despairing and helpless, isolated. So what you're watching here in this text is a final act of desperation. A leper came to Jesus beseeching him and falling on his knees before him, hold on, we're not told how but I'd like to know how. I'd like to know how he got there.
I'd like to know how he got this close. No doubt people saw him coming. Ken Hughes writes in his commentary that he was probably like the prow of a ship as he worked through that multitude and people saw him coming and they just, they rippled away. Jesus is evidently different from their Abbeys in that he's not throwing stones at him to keep him away. He's, he evidently isn't afraid of being defiled. He's not running from Jesus. Jesus, by the way, isn't afraid of sinners. He came to seek and to save them, Luke tells us in chapter 19 verse 10. But I want you to understand you're watching one of those amazing encounters where a terminal sinner comes face to face with the true savior. The mark tells us further in the text that he falls to his knees and he begins to beg the Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean. The tense of this verb informs us that he repeated this request over and over again. There he kneels, he's hopeless, he's diseased, he's outcast, he's incurable.
This is his only hope and so he repeats it. If you are willing, you can make me clean. If you are willing, you can make me clean. If you are willing, you can make me clean. If you are willing, you can make me clean. Did you notice he doesn't say if you are willing, you can heal me? Notice. If you are willing, you can rid me of this awful disease.
No. You see he is essentially asking for a complete ceremonial, spiritual, judicial, restoration. He's going to the deeper issue based upon this incredible statement of faith he's making. And he's saying everything you and I need to say to him as well.
If you are willing, make me clean. In fact, the word Luke uses in his account for this man's kneeling, prostration, is a telling word. It was used commonly when people knelt and worshiped their gods. He gets it.
He is kneeling here, essentially worshiping the one he has come to believe is indeed the anointed Messiah. So what you have then is you have this great statement of faith coming from the last person on the planet you'd ever think would speak it. This is astonishing. I know you can, that's what he's saying. I know you can.
I know you can, but are you willing? Because I know if you're willing, you have the power to cleanse me. Have you ever come to Jesus like that? Is there some point in your life where you've understood that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, he's the Savior, and you've asked for cleansing?
Not help my life to get better, not help my baby to get well, not help me to get a new job. You know, I've done some awful things and I don't want to do them again, but get to the core of it. I am a corrosive, corrupt sinner.
Will you cleanse me? What a risk, by the way, here. If Jesus isn't the Messiah, this man can be stoned to death for entering a walled city, which is a violation of rabbinic law, for violating the laws of excommunication, for putting other people at risk of defilement. If Jesus isn't the Savior, this man doesn't have a prayer. He doesn't stand a chance. His life is only going to become worse, so I couldn't help but think, listen, isn't that true for us? If Jesus isn't the Savior, we don't have a prayer.
We don't stand a chance, do we? We are, the apostle Paul wrote, we are, if he isn't authentic and legitimately the Messiah, we are of all people most miserable. So can Jesus pull off what no other person can on the planet?
Is he really incarnate God, the anointed Messiah? I love Jesus's immediate response in verse 41. Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him.
Don't move too fast here. Jesus could have spoken, but he touched him. This is perhaps the first time in 30 years someone has touched him with kindness. The word for touch is more than with a finger.
This could be translated to seize or to grasp. Picture Jesus's hand grasping this man by the shoulder. Jesus didn't have to touch him. Ever thought about the fact that Jesus could simply say the words, be healed?
Let's move along. He took that man by the shoulder and delivered the most precious words that man had ever heard. I am willing, be cleansed. I am willing, be cleansed. Have you come to Jesus and asked the same of him? Have you had enough of your sin and religion and ceremony and good deeds and trying the best to keep your leprosy from spreading and you can't hide it anymore? Bring it to Jesus. Pray this wonderful sinner's prayer, by the way, prayed by a leper 1900 years ago, who if you take the nuances and the context together, what is he saying?
He's saying, Lord Jesus, I bow before you believe in you are who you say you are. You are my only prayer. You are my only option. I have nothing, however, to offer you but corruption and sin.
And it doesn't get any better, by the way. I know you can. If you are willing, cleanse me.
And whosoever will, may come. As I've talked to people, I have found two deceptions at that moment when awareness is visible in their eyes. Two deceptions that the enemy be at work in your own life and mind and heart even now to say don't do that. One deception is that you're not really a sinner. You've done some bad things.
You've made a few wrong choices. But I don't use the word corrupt and corrupting when I think of myself. I'm not all that bad. I don't need a savior. The first deception is that you're not too much of a sinner. The second deception, equally dangerous, is that you're too much of a sinner.
He wouldn't take me. You don't know my story, Stephen. I'm too far gone.
I've done too much. The disease of my leprous sin has spread too far. I take it from a man whose family had probably stopped praying for him a long time ago. A synagogue that had forgotten him a long time ago.
A rabbi who didn't want to see him and that started a long time ago. His friends and family had stopped holding out any hope a long time ago. He and everyone he knew had come to the conclusion that he was beyond hope.
He was beyond help. But by the grace of God, here he comes. Lord, if you're willing, cleanse me. Jesus reached out and seized him, grasped him and said what he says to you and to me, I'm willing, be cleansed. So here's hopelessness coming face to face with holiness.
Wow, this is gonna be interesting. Here is depraved pollution coming face to face with divine purity. And whenever a sinner comes like that, in that encounter, terminal sinners are cleansed by their triumphant Savior.
Every time, in every case, guaranteed. And so Father, we thank you for the love and compassion of Christ who knew he would die for that man's sinfulness. And we know by faith, for we have come to your son as well knowing he died for ours. That he was defiled, he was inundated, he was covered with our sin. As your word tells us, that he took in his body all our sin on the cross. And when you, Lord Jesus, touch us defiled sinners all, you are not defiled, but we are cleansed.
Because of the price you paid, you indeed paid it all. The lesson you just heard today, here on Wisdom for the Hearts, is entitled, A Cure for the Incurable. It's part one of a two-part series called, Resurrection Power. We'll bring you the second message in the series tomorrow. And we hope these messages will be helpful to you and your family. And we hope that you will be able to celebrate in a very special way, the resurrection of Jesus Christ this coming Lord's Day.
He came to do what we couldn't, to pay the penalty for our sin. And I hope that reminder has helped you focus your heart and mind on the atonement of Jesus Christ. It might be that you joined us late and you missed the beginning of this lesson.
Or maybe it would encourage you to hear this message again in its entirety. We've posted it to our website and you'll find us online at wisdomonline.org. You can go to that website to listen to this lesson or read the written manuscript. In addition, you can access the archive of Stephen's entire Bible teaching ministry.
He's been the pastor of the Shepherd's Church in Cary, North Carolina, for over 35 years. That complete teaching archive is available free at wisdomonline.org. Again, that's wisdomonline.org. Another way you can access this or any of Stephen's sermons is on our smartphone app.
You'll find the Wisdom International app for both iPhone and Android devices in the app store for whatever device you use. Once again, the sermon you're looking for is entitled, A Cure for the Incurable. In the few moments that we have left, I want to share with you some correspondence we've received recently and I hope it encourages you like it did us. Vijay called into the office to share this with us.
He said, I'm currently homeless and staying with a family on a reservation in Montana. It was important for me to call you from a pay phone provided by the reservation and I don't know where I would be or how I'd be getting along through the difficult time of uncertainty without your sermons keeping me grounded in God's word. I'm so thankful for you. Well, thanks for writing Vijay.
Robert from South Carolina said, I began listening to WYFG about 15 months ago while driving to work. Although I'm only able to listen for part of the message, it's been placed upon my heart to share with you how much these messages have meant to me. This truly remains a highlight of my day. These messages speak to me in a very special way that's truly indescribable. I thank and praise my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for this extraordinary gift of encouragement and conviction for my heart and life as a believer. And I will recommend these messages to my wife and children as well as my fellow believers. And I pray these messages will lead many others to Jesus Christ as the day of His return approaches. And then Daniel from here in North Carolina said, I use the articles from the Heart to Heart Devotional to help teach my Sunday school class.
The topics Pastor Davey covers like Do Babies Really Go to Heaven? and Pride and the Coronavirus grab the attention of any and all readers and are very helpful. Now friends, that resource that Daniel is referring to is our monthly magazine called Heart to Heart. If you don't receive it, we'd be happy to send you the next three issues. Heart to Heart magazine is a gift that we send to our wisdom partners, but we'd be happy to send it to you. Just call us today at 866-48-Bible or 866-482-4253.
Now, here's just one more note. Laurie said, I've recently begun counseling at a senior citizens retirement community. I plan on using your resources that I've accumulated over the years to encourage the hurting and help those needing comfort in the home. Listening to you has been what's led me to the decision to take God's truth and wisdom to His children, young and old.
It's never too late for someone to come to Christ, and I pray that many will. Wow, thank you, Laurie. And friends, it would encourage us to hear from you as well. You can write to us at Wisdom for the Heart, P.O. Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. That's Wisdom for the Heart, P.O. Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. I hope you have a blessed day and that you'll join us again tomorrow as we bring you more wisdom for the heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-06 04:02:06 / 2023-12-06 04:12:14 / 10