August 13, 2017
Luke 5:12 – 17
The Disease That Made You an Outcast
There are many terrible diseases: shingles, arthritis, stones of all kinds, but in the ancient world of the Bible one stood out, leprosy. Not only was it hideous and painful, but it made you an outcast.
A Painless Hell
“The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp,” (Leviticus 13:45–46).
Leprosy or Hansen’s disease as it is known today, destroys the nerves. The results of uncared for injuries leads to horrible disfigurements. When this man came to Jesus (Luke 5:12 – 17), he was truly a man in need.
The Leper Comes to Jesus
As if the disease wasn’t bad enough, leprosy represented punishment for sin (Miriam, Gehazi, and Uzziah had been judged by God with leprosy. See Numbers 12:6–10; 2 Kings 5:25–27; 2 Chronicles 26:19 respectively).
Notice when the leper comes to Jesus, he doesn’t say, “Lord, you can heal me.” Rather he pleads “Lord, you can make me clean.”
Like the leper, before we can be forgiven, three things must happen:
- We must become aware of our condition.
- We must realize Christ is our only hope.
- We must have real faith.
Show Yourself to the Priest
Why did Jesus send him away? Because it was time to celebrate.
“In Biblical times the rare deliverances from leprosy were certified by an elaborate and uniquely joyful ceremony that extended over eight full days in fulfillment of the directives of Leviticus 14. … Imagine the joy of the healed man and his family—and the communal celebration that accompanied that great eighth day. It was as if a resurrection had taken place. Very likely there was feasting and singing long into the night.
For us Christians, the Old Testament’s description of these ancient ceremonies elicits incredible joy not only because the Scriptures speak of Christ (cf. Luke 24:27; John 5:39), but also because this elaborate ritual specifically speaks of the atonement through Christ and his power to deliver. This is precisely what Jesus’ healing of the leper in Luke 5 is all is about.” R.K. Hughes
Some Things to Think About
- Do we have any diseases today that carry a social stigma as leprosy did so long ago?
- Read the parallel accounts of this healing and think about what each one adds to our understanding.
- Matthew 8:2 – 4
- Mark 1:40 – 45
- Luke 5:12 – 17
- Why did Jesus tell the man to show himself to the priest?
- Jesus didn’t have to touch the man. Why did the Lord do that?
- What did the leper feel when Jesus touched him?
- How important is touch?
- Who do you know that needs a hug?