THE MIRACLES OF PHYSICAL HEALING AUTHENTICATE THE POWER AND AUTHORITY OF JESUS TO CLEANSE FROM SIN AND TO FORGIVE SINS
Jesus constantly used miracles of healing in the physical realm to authenticate His Person and to point to the deeper spiritual level of healing that only He can accomplish. We need to sense our desperate brokenness in terms of being dead in our sins and trespasses so that we can identify with this hopeless leper and this helpless paralytic. The religious leaders of the day were present to observe the teaching and miracles of Jesus – but only for the purpose of finding fault and trying to build a case against him. The multitudes responded in amazement and general fear and reverence, but fell short of coming to Jesus to receive forgiveness for their own sins. We need to humbly receive from Jesus that which only He can provide = cleansing from sin and the forgiveness of our sins so that we might be restored to full spiritual health and a right relationship with God.
I. (:12-16) HEALING THE LEPER – JESUS CAN MAKE THE UNCLEAN CLEAN
A. (:12) MINISTRY PETITION
1. Dire Need
“And it came about that while He was in one of the cities,
behold, there was a man full of leprosy;”
Donald Miller: To the Jews, leprosy was more than a disease. It was a sign of moral uncleanness. It was a stroke of divine judgment for disobedience to the divine will (Num. 12; II Kings 5:19-27; II Chron. 26:16-21). Consequently, lepers were cast out of the congregation, not only as a hygienic measure but as a sign that they were cut off from fellowship with the people of God. They lived miserable existences, depending on alms of passers-by or on scavenging.
Bruce Hurt: Luke could just have said a leper approached and we would have understood. But he adds an interesting detail telling us the man is covered (pleres) which means full of and speaks of the totality of this man’s body which was “wholly filled” with the disease and with no skin surface lacking the effect of the disease! One can just picture the sight! . . . It may have been the worst case of leprosy in all of Palestine, but this leper would soon find that Jesus’ power is enough for even the worst case!
2. Desperate Plea
“and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’”
Mattoon – This word “clean” is a strong word in the Greek. It is the word katharizo which forms our English words “cauterize, Kathy, Katherine, Katie, Katelyn.” Katharizo has the idea of purity. It means “to make clean, to purify physically and also spiritually.” He had absolute confidence in the ability of Jesus Christ to cure him physically and also spiritually.
B. (:13-14) MINISTRY PERFORMANCE
1. (:13) The Miracle of Cleansing the Leper
“And He stretched out His hand, and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ And immediately the leprosy left him.”
Anyabwile: Jesus possesses a holiness that is not defiled by touching the unclean, but with a touch he cleanses the unclean. Jesus possesses a holiness that produces what the law requires but cannot produce.
J. Ligon Duncan: Jesus can do what no priest can do. A priest would have been instantaneously declared unclean by this action. Not Jesus. And a priest cannot cleanse a man. It’s interesting. You go to Leviticus 13-14, what’s to happen? If a leper is healed of his leprosy, then he goes to the priest. The priest examines him to see if he has been healed of his leprosy, and then the priest declares him to be ceremonially clean, he baptizes him, and then he welcomes him back into the community. But in Leviticus 13-14, guess what the priest can’t do? The priest can’t make him clean! The priest can declare that he has been clean, but he can’t make him clean, except ceremonially. Jesus, on the other hand, can make this man clean. In drawing attention to cleanness and uncleanness, Jesus is drawing attention to the forgiveness of sins.
Wiersbe: By the grace and power of God, this man was changed! In fact, Jesus even touched the man, which meant that He became unclean Himself. This is a beautiful picture of what Jesus has done for lost sinners: He became sin for us that we might be made clean (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24). Jesus is not only willing to save (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9), but He is also able to save (Heb. 7:25); and He can do it now (2 Cor. 6:2).
2. (:14) The Religious Validation of the Cleansing
“And He ordered him to tell no one, ‘But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.’”
Leon Morris: The words probably point to a safeguard for the healed man. People would know that he had been a leper and would be slow to accept him. But if a priest had inspected him and accepted his offering, there was proof that he had been healed. It would also show that Jesus upheld the law. And it would be a testimony to people in general that the power of God was at work in Jesus.
C. (:15-16) MINISTRY PRESSURE
1. (:15) The Pressure of His Growing Reputation
“But the news about Him was spreading even farther,
and great multitudes were gathering to hear Him
and to be healed of their sicknesses.”
2. (:16) The Pressure Requiring Intense Private Prayers
“But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”
Spurgeon – The tense of the verb implies that he often did this; it was his habit to withdraw himself for private prayer even in his busiest times, and when he could occupy every minute with great advantage to the people. Thus he gathered new strength from above for each day’s work; and when there was most to be done, then he took most time to pray. It is an evil economy that tries to take time for other things that should be spent in prayer, for the shortening of prayer will be the weakening of our power.
Bruce Hurt: Bill Gaither wrote the words of the famous song He touched Me in 1963 being inspired by Jesus’ touch healing the leper in Mark’s Gospel.
He touched Me
Shackled by a heavy burden
‘Neath a load of guilt and shame
Then the hand of Jesus touched me
And now I am no longer the same.
He touched, oh, he touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened, and now I know
He touched me, and made me whole.
Since I’ve met this blessed savior
Since he’s cleansed and made me whole
I will never cease to praise him
I’ll shout it while eternity rolls.
Oh! he touched me! Oh! he touched me!
He touched me! And Oh the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened, and now I know
He touched me, and made me whole.
II. (:17-26) HEALING THE PARALYZED MAN – JESUS CAN FORGIVE SINS
A. (:17) The Circumstances Surrounding the Miraculous Healing
1. Authority of Jesus Evident In His Normal Ministry Activity of Teaching
“And it came about one day that He was teaching;”
2. Antagonistic Observers
“and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem;”
3. Access to the Power of the Lord
“and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.”
Donald Miller: The story of the paralytic comes last in this section of the Gospel, as the climactic revelation of Jesus’ authority and power. He has “authority on earth to forgive sins” (vs. 24). It is this claim which marks the beginning of open hostility to Jesus.
B. (:18-19) The Persistence and Creativity of Seeking Healing From Jesus
1. (:18) The Goal
“And behold, some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed;
and they were trying to bring him in, and to set him down in front of Him.”
2. (:19) The Game Plan
“And not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, right in the center, in front of Jesus.”
C. (:20) The Spiritual Reality of Forgiving Sins By Grace Through Faith
“And seeing their faith, He said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’”
All of them gave evidence of faith – the 4 friends as well as the paralytic
D. (:21-26) The Physical Object Lesson of Healing the Paralytic
1. (:21) Blind Reasoning
“And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, ‘Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?’”
2. (:22-23) Perceptive Probing
“But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, Your sins have been forgiven you, or to say, Rise and walk ‘?”
3. (:24-25) Purposeful Miracle
a. (:24) Instructive Command
“But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,– He said to the paralytic—‘I say to you, rise, and take up your stretcher and go home.’”
b. (:25) Immediate and Complete Healing
“And at once he rose up before them, and took up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God.”
4. (:26) Shallow Response
“And they were all seized with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, ‘We have seen remarkable things today.’”
Climax of this section – the reaction of the people to the demonstration by Jesus of His power and authority that extended even to the forgiveness of sins
Anyabwile: Look at the people’s reaction in verse 26. Do you know what I find extraordinary? They watched Jesus forgive a man’s sin. Then they watched Jesus prove he could forgive sin by healing a paralyzed man. But not one of them then said to Jesus, “Since you can forgive sins, please forgive my sins, too!” They experienced general amazement and gave general praise to God, but they did not worship Jesus or seek forgiveness for their sin. That is amazing and tragic. Having eyes, they do not see. Having ears, they do not hear.
J. Ligon Duncan: at that point the Pharisees should have been on their faces before Jesus, saying, “The One that Isaiah prophesied about in Isaiah 35, the One who, when He comes, the blind are going to see and the lame are going to leap for joy, and the deaf are going to hear — He’s here! We’ve just seen Him make a lame man walk, and that man leapt for joy going home, glorifying God! And we’ve just seen a leper healed just like Isaiah says in Isaiah 35. This is the One we’ve been waiting for!” But they didn’t. Why? Because unlike that leper, and unlike that lame man, they did not see their need. They didn’t see how much they needed Jesus. They didn’t see how much they needed the forgiveness of sins. And so they stood there in judgment over Jesus.