INTRODUCTION: Is sickness the result of sin? Do we deserve to
well? This week we consider through the story of the leper the
connection between sin and sickness and why Jesus healed. Let's get
I. THE LEPER
A. Turn with me to Mark 1:40. Read. What do
you know about
leprosy? (It is a "wasting" skin disease which causes your
body parts to fall off (to put it scientifically).
1. I have a friend
who has a fear that he will get brain
cancer. The disease that I am most concerned about is
arteriosclerosis. I knew that my father's paternal side
of the family was not "good news" in the heart attack
department. The other day I was looking at some old
death certificates for my father's maternal side of the
family and my mother's side of the family and saw
"arteriosclerosis" written on those death certificates!
2. What disease do you fear the most?
3. How does it compare with leprosy?
a. What is the worst part about leprosy?
B. Why does our friend ask to be made "clean"
rather than ask
to be healed? (The worst part of leprosy was your separation
from the rest of humanity, and the fact that you must
continually call attention to the fact that you were unclean.
(Leviticus 13:42-46) The fact that he asked to be made
"clean" shows that he thought first about the non-medical
impact of his disease.)
C. Does the leper doubt that Jesus can heal
him? (No. He does
not question the power of Jesus to heal. Instead, he asks
about his willingness to heal a leper. Jamieson, Fausset and
Brown in their commentary on the parallel version of this
story in Matthew 8:2 say that this was "probably the first
case" in which Jesus healed a leper and therefore this leper
must have had a very strong faith.)
II. THE HEALING
A. Read Mark 1:41-42. How did Jesus heal the
touched him and said, "Be clean!")
1. Was it necessary
for Jesus to touch the leper to heal
him? (No. In the story of the healing of the ten lepers
(Luke 17:12-14), the lepers called out at a distance to
Jesus and He called back. He did not touch them or even
get close to them.)
2. Was there
any reason not to touch this leper? (Yes. It
would make Jesus unclean.)
3. So why did
Jesus touch the leper?
a. How important is it that your family touch
you and that you touch them? Can you imagine an
existence where no one touches you and you touch no
b. Do you think Jesus touched this leper because one
of his great desires in life was to be touched?
(Yes! He could not be touched because he was not
clean. His first request was to be made clean. It
was no accident that Jesus touched him. Jesus knew
very well the requirement of Leviticus 13 that
lepers be separated. We can be certain of Jesus'
knowledge because (in Mark 1:44) Jesus commanded
the inspection by a priest that is required in
c. What does that fact that Jesus touched this leper
tell us about our Lord? (I love it that our Lord
knows us so well. The normal "guy" would have been
worried sick about "catching" leprosy. The twin
issues of sin and sickness were shouting out for
attention in this situation. But our Lord first
focussed on touching this leper who probably had
not been touched for years.)
B. Read Mark 1:43-45. Was it in Jesus' best
interest to heal
1. Why did Jesus
tell the leper not to tell anyone? (In
McGee's reference work, 4 Through the Bible 166, he
relates a humorous irony about this. Jesus told the leper
to tell no one and he told everyone. Jesus tells us to
tell everyone and we tell no one! We see strong evidence
from this instruction to the leper that Jesus' did not
intend His miracles to be the centerpiece of what He was
doing. The crowds that came to Him for healing were
disrupting His ability to share the gospel. So it was
not in Jesus' best interest to heal this leper.)
2. So why did
Jesus heal this leper? (v.41: He was
"filled with compassion." Sometimes I have second
thoughts about our clinical, almost mathematical,
explanation about why someone was not healed. We say
they were not healed to help save someone else. This
gives the impression that God is "playing cards" and is
trading one life to get a couple more in the kingdom. If
nothing else, this story shows us that God's compassion
overrules the "optimum" plan for spreading the gospel.
If God is going to "err" on any side, you can be sure it
is on the side of showing compassion towards you.)
III. WHICH MISCONCEPTION?
A. Our lesson asks (Monday) "what popular misconception
Jesus dispel when He healed the leper?" What is your answer?
1. Our lesson
(Monday) says "It was commonly believed
that leprosy was God's punishment for sin." This,
apparently, is the misconception referred to by the
a. Is this a misconception? Were the Jews just "off
on a toot of their own" to believe that there was
any connection between sin and leprosy?
b. Someone turn to Numbers 12:10-12. How did Miriam
become leprous? (Numbers 12:1-2, she was "talking
(1) What kind of lesson do you draw from this
story? Would your conclusion that there is a
link between Miriam's sin and her leprosy be a
(2) Was the leper just an innocent victim of
leprosy who did not deserve to have this dread
(3) I believe that the number one cause of
death in this country is heart disease. As
mentioned above, I expect to be a "victim" of
this disease someday. Do you know anyone who
is an "innocent" victim of heart disease? (No.
I was eating "M&M's" just before I started
writing this section. Sit down in a mall
sometime and observe the stream of overweight,
under-exercised humanity (like me) and you
will not wonder that heart disease is the
number one killer.)
2. Is any human
ever an innocent victim of disease? Is
it a misconception that we get sick because we sin?
(Genesis 2:16-17; Leviticus 26:14-33; Romans 5:12-14. We
have all sinned. We all deserve death. It is no wonder
and no "misconception" that we die from disease. The
wonder is that God came down to "touch" us in our unclean
state. The wonder is that one sinful human can look at
another sinful and sick human and say "he deserved that
(and we don't)." The wonder is that we protest our
innocence. We all deserve death. Let's look more closely
at the God who is moved by compassion to touch the
IV. THE SEARCHING GOD
A. Turn with me to Luke 15:8-10. Read. Why
does this woman
light a lamp? (Not enough light. It is probably dark outside.)
1. Is the coin going to go anywhere in the night?
2. Is the coin
going to be less valuable in the morning?
B. Then why not wait until daylight to find this coin? (The
woman is intensely interested in recovering her coin. She
wants it back now.)
C. How much effort does the woman go through
to find her coin?
(Lights a lamp. Sweeps and searches carefully.)
1. What do you think is the point of this story?
2. Does this
represent God's attitude towards us? (v.10
3. Does this
represent your attitude towards other
a. Are we so anxious to bring others to Christ that
we are unwilling to wait until the "optimum" time
(daylight) to find and save sinners?
b. Is our compassion for those who are headed
towards eternal death so great that we take steps
to save them even though (like Jesus healing the
leper) they might interfere with the optimum
strategy for spreading the gospel?
c. Or do we make coldly logical plans to spread the
gospel? (I'm not against logic. But I worry about
our (my) enthusiasm.)
D. What kind of current event would you compare
to v.9? (It is
football season. I like to think of the end zone victory
celebration when a touchdown in made. Can you see God
spiritually "spiking the ball" into the ground when someone
turns to Him? "High fives" among the angelic host?)
E. Friend, we all deserve death. We all
deserve sickness. It
is only Christ's amazing compassion upon us that saves us from
what we deserve. His compassionate love discerns our needs
and goes to meet them. (For example, touching the leper.) Pray
that God's Spirit will awaken your heart to your true
condition and give you a burning, compassionate desire to save
V. NEXT WEEK: CHRIST THE GREAT CONNECTOR. Study!