Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”
In today’s passage Jesus cleanses a man with leprosy. In this short story we can learn the core of the gospel and what Jesus really wants us to be and to do. Everybody wants to live a pure and holy life and to grow as a noble person. It is because we are made in the image of God. We are made to serve the living God, without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days (Lk 1:74b-75). If we don’t live like this, we are not happy even if we have lots of money, and enjoy many pleasures. So we really want to live a pure and holy life. The man with leprosy in today’s passage is a representative of all human beings, who are sin-stained. He shows us how to come to Jesus. Most of all, Jesus shows us how to be cleansed. And we can learn what to do after receiving God’s grace.
1. Read verse 40. Who came to Jesus? What was his attitude before Jesus? What
can we learn from him?
1-1, Read verse 40.
A man with leprosy[h] came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
1-2, Who came to Jesus?
40 A man with leprosy came to him
Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae. M. leprae multiplies slowly and the incubation period of the disease, on average, is 5 years. The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and also the eyes.
In Jesus’ time leprosy was an incurable disease. It was a very painful disease. The parts of the body decayed and fell off one by one.
So lepers must have asked the timeless question “What have I done to deserve this?” To add insult to injury, lepers were banished to an isolated place.
Most people want to live among others and be part of a community. This leper was a human being as well. He wanted to make friends. But because of his disease, he became an outcast of society.
How miserable he must have been- a most lonely and hopeless man in the world. What could he do? He could do nothing! He could only curse his fate.
Leviticus 13:45-46 says,
“Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.”
In many ways, leprosy are similar to sin. First of all, sin disfigures the image of God in man, just as leprosy disfigures man’s body.
God made man to be full of God’s image such as love, compassion, wisdom, righteousness, justice, and truth, and to be pure, sincere, noble, and responsible.
But sin makes man immoral, violent, and utterly corrupt. Sin also numbs man’s conscience, just as leprosy numbs man’s nervous system.
So even though we are dying due to lust, pride, hatred, bitterness, jealousy or selfishness, we can say, “I feel okay. I am okay!”
But we are not okay. We are dying in our sins. Sin cuts man’s relationships, just as leprosy leaves one isolated.
As they were completely cut off from the camp, sin breaks all of our relationships. Sin leaves one isolated, cursed, and be alone.
The man with leprosy had a hard time to survive each day. He fought against leprosy, fatalism, despair, loneliness and sorrow, and so on.
He might have thought of committing suicide many times. He was hopeless, helpless and powerless.
But one day he heard of Jesus, who accepted anyone who came to him and healed them. It was really good news to him. It gave him hope and vision to be healed.
Still, it was not easy for him to come to Jesus. There were many obstacles. Jesus was always surrounded by a crowd of people.
It was illegal for this man to be near other people. If he was discovered, the crowd could stone him to death. He had to overcome self-consciousness.
He had to overcome fear of death. He had to overcome doubt that Jesus would welcome him and that Jesus could cure his chronic disease.
Anyway, this man came to Jesus, overcoming all the barriers. He approached Jesus.
1-3, What was his attitude before Jesus?
and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Now he begged Jesus on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” He teaches us faith. Faith is to come to Jesus as we are in a desperate situation.
Faith is to look at Jesus alone. Faith is to believe that Jesus will welcome us and that Jesus can cleanse us. This man came to Jesus humbly.
He was not demanding, but totally dependent on Jesus’ mercy. This is how we can come to Jesus. Jesus wants us to come to him like this, in humility and faith, just as we are.
1-4, What can we learn from him?
Many of us look fine outwardly, but inwardly we are as sick as a man with leprosy. We are filled with shame and guilt and suffer from loneliness.
We should come to Jesus honestly, just as we are. We should not try to clean ourselves up first, but just come as we are. Then Jesus’ blood cleanses all our sins. Let’s come to Jesus.
2. Read verses 41-42. What might have caused Jesus to become indignant? What
did he do first for the man of leprosy? What did he then say to him? What
was the result?
2-1, Read verses 41-42.
Jesus was indignant.[i] He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
2-2, What might have caused Jesus to become indignant?
Jesus was indignant.
Jesus’ indignation was not at the man, but at the ravaging effect of the disease. As the footnote says, Jesus was filled with compassion toward the man.
This was not just pity. Jesus deeply understood this man with the mind of God and was determined to heal him.
2-3, What did he do first for the man of leprosy?
He reached out his hand and touched the man.
This is messianic compassion. Jesus did not treat this man according to the law, saying “Stay back! I will heal you from a distance.”
Rather, knowing how the man had suffered from loneliness Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.
Jesus’ touch showed that he accepted this man as he was. Jesus did not heal him first. Jesus accepted him first.
To Jesus, he was a precious man made in God’s image who had value and dignity. Jesus’ touch reveals his love for the man.
Here we learn Jesus’ compassionate heart. It was compassion that enabled him to reach out and touch the man, crossing all barriers.
If we have Jesus’ compassion, we too, can reach out and touch young college students with love and understanding.
To be sure, there are many barriers: generational, cultural, language and so on. Sometimes we think we need some kind of skill to reach them.
But it is not a matter of skill; it is a matter of having Jesus’ compassion. With Jesus’ compassion we can overcome all kinds of barriers and touch them with the love of God.
When we remember how Jesus had compassion on us, it renews our hearts, and we can be compassionate toward others.
Jesus’ compassion enables us to endure all things and be useful to God in his work of saving people. Lord Jesus, grant us your compassion!
2-4, What did he then say to him?
“I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”
Jesus did more than touch the man. He said, “I am willing…Be clean!” Jesus did not heal this man out of obligation.
Jesus was willing. Being willing makes a big difference. If we serve out of obligation we do just the bare minimum and stop without giving our hearts.
But when we are willing, we give our hearts and do our best with all our ability and strength. When we willingly teach the Bible, students feel loved and respond well.
Even though the contents of Bible study are not outstanding, they continue to come. Otherwise, Bible students are burdened and do not come back again.
God is willing and His Son, Jesus was sent into this world. Also Jesus was willing to sacrifice himself for our sins.
Jesus went to the cross willingly in order to please God. “I am willing…Be clean!” also tells us that Jesus wants us to be clean from our sins.
Jesus wants to restore God’s image in us. In order to do that, Jesus willingly shed his blood, the blood of the sinless Son of God, which has power to cleanse us.
Hebrews 9:14 says,
“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we can serve the living God.”
2-5, What was the result?
42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
When Jesus said, “I am willing…Be clean!” immediately the leprosy left the man and he was cleansed.
His skin became as clean and fresh as a newborn baby. He became a new man. He had received a great blessing from God.
3. Read verses 43-45. What was Jesus’ warning to him? (43-44a) Why was he
asked to show himself to the priest? (44b) What did the man do instead? (45a)
What happened as a result of this man’s actions? (45b)
3-1, Read verses 43-45.
Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
3-2, What was Jesus’ warning to him? (43-44a)
43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone.
Now it was time for him to bear this blessing. It was time to listen to Jesus. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning not to tell this to anyone.
Jesus knew that this man was very excited and liable to spread the news about his healing at random.
But if he did that, Jesus’ plan to visit villages and preach the good news would be hindered. Jesus did not want to advertise his messianic ministry in this way.
Isaiah 42:2 says, “He will not shout or cry out or raise his voice in the streets.” Jesus wanted to serve people quietly, according to their needs.
3-3, Why was he asked to show himself to the priest? (44b)
But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
So Jesus gave him a strong warning not to tell anyone, but instead to go the priests and offer sacrifices according to the law.
This man needed to be recognized as a cleansed man so that he could re-enter society and live a normal life.
Moreover, he needed to give thanks to God for his cleansing by offering sacrifices. So Jesus gave him clear direction.
3-4, What did the man do instead? (45a)
45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news.
But the man did not obey Jesus’ words. He went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news.
He became the center of attention and enjoyed a newfound fame and acceptance among people.
Here we learn how to respond after receiving Jesus’ grace. The key is to listen to Jesus’ word.
Whatever he tells us, being ready to obey. That is the attitude God always wants His people to have.
3-5, What happened as a result of this man’s actions? (45b)
As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
It must have felt good to him. However, as a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places.
In order to heal a man with leprosy, Jesus, the Son of God, became isolated. It reveals his servant’s attitude. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
Today we have learned that Jesus is willing to heal us from all the stains of sin and restore God’s holy image within us. Let’s come to Jesus as we are. Let’s listen to Jesus and obey him so that we may grow continually in his grace.