THE TOUCH THAT TRANSFORMS
by Rev Charles Bronson
Key Verse: Mark 1:40-45
Intro: This passage records one of the most powerful and amazing miracles ever performed by Jesus. In fact, this is one of only two recorded healings of lepers in the Gospels. The other is in Luke 17:12-19. Here, Jesus heals one leper, there He heals ten lepers. The healing of the lepers was one of the signs Jesus mentioned that proved He was the Messiah, Matt. 11:5.
In this wonderful account of the healing of this leprous man, we are given a glimpse into the heart of the Savior. We are allowed to see His compassion and His power on full display.
Let’s join Jesus in His encounter with this leper. Let’s watch Him as He changes this poor man’s life forever. Let’s also understand that what Jesus did for this man He can do for any person in this room today.
You may not have leprosy, but if you have a problem with sin; if you need a Savior; if you need help, there is a word here for you in this remarkable miracle. Let’s learn how Jesus transforms lives. I want to preach from this passage on the thought The Touch That Transforms.
The story starts with a sick man in verse 40.
- The Nature Of His Ailment
The Bible calls this man “a leper”. This disease is known in our day as Hanson’s Disease. It is a highly infectious disease that was incurable in Bible times, but one which can be treated today. In Bible times, no other disease was as feared as leprosy.
- It affected the whole body.
- It usually began with fatigue and pain in the joints.
- Scaly spots would develop on the skin, as the disease progressed, the body would be covered with puss filled nodules.
- The appearance of the face would be altered, so that the sufferer would come to resemble a lion. Nodules would grow on the vocal chords so that the leper spoke with a raspy voice.
- The body was in a state of living decomposition, thus a terrible stench surrounded the leper constantly.
- Leprosy attacked the nervous system, compromising the body’s ability to feel pain. It acted as an anesthetic, numbing the body.
The leper might step on a stone or a thorn and injure his foot and be totally unaware that there was a problem. Infection would set in and eventually, the injured foot might just fall off. The leper might wash his face in scalding water and blind himself.
He might reach into a fire to pick up a dropped potato and not realize that he had been badly burned. Rats and other vermin would often chew on sleeping lepers. One doctor in a third world nation would often send a cat home with his leprous patients after he had performed surgery on them.
- It usually ran its course in about 9 years.
- The sufferer usually died a horrible death.
- One of the worst aspects of leprosy was the social isolation it brought. The Levitical Law was very clear that a leper was very clear in its commands to lepers, Lev. 13:45-46.
- By the time of Jesus, the rabbis had added many more restrictions to the law governing lepers. If a leper even stuck his head inside a home it was considered unclean. It was against the law to greet a leper.
- When it was determined that a man had leprosy they would banish him from the village, he was no longer allowed to have communion with other people. He had to leave his family; he had to leave his friends.
- It was unlawful for a leper to approach within 50 feet of a clean person. If it was a windy day, the rule changed to 200 feet.
- He could not touch his family; he could only see them from a distance.
- Many families brought food and clothing for a while, but after a time, most families had a funeral service and regarded the afflicted person as a dead man.
- The leper had to tear his garments so people would recognize that he was a leper.
- He was to dress as a mourner going to a funeral service: his own funeral service!
- Over his upper lip he had to wear a cloth so he wouldn't spread the contamination and every time he saw people coming, the leper was required to cry, “Unclean! Unclean!”.
- The leper’s cries would warn people that a leper was nearby and people would pick up stones to throw at the leper so he wouldn’t come near.
Ill: In the Bible, leprosy is far more than a disease. It is also a type of sin!
- The leper was considered the embodiment of impurity. The external defilement of the disease was seen to represent the internal defilement of the heart.
- The leper was a living, breathing commentary on the effects of sin!
- No one here has leprosy, but everyone here has problems with sin.
Leviticus 13, clearly lays out the regulations for diagnosing and dealing with leprosy. Notice how leprosy pictures sin.
- Leprosy is deeper than the skin - Lev. 13:3 - The outward manifestations of sin are merely a window into the heart, Matt. 15:18-19. People aren’t sinners because they sin; people sin because they are sinners!
- Leprosy starts out small and then it spreads - Lev. 13:7 - Just as that leper may have seen a tiny white spot on his skin one day, it wasn’t many days until his flesh was consumed by that loathsome disease.
What a picture of sin! Look at David, 2 Sam. 11! A little spot of laziness and lust turned into a plague of adultery, unwanted pregnancy, lies and murder!
That little drink may turn into alcoholism. A little petting on a date could turn into an unwanted pregnancy.
Let down the walls a little here, allow a little sin there, and before you know it, your whole life has been ruined and ransacked by the devil!
- Leprosy defiles everything it touches - Lev. 13:44-46 - When a man was stricken with leprosy, we was totally and thoroughly defiled!
Sin has a way of poisoning a person’s entire life. It will poison your family and your relationships. It will devastate and ruin everything it touches in your life!
Ask Achan if a little gold, silver and a garment were worth his life and the lives of his family, Joshua 7. Ask David if a few stolen moments with another man’s wife were worth the devastation and calamities that came into his family as a result.
- Leprosy Isolates - Lev. 13:46 - The leper was isolated from the camp of the clean. He was forced to dwell alone on the fringes of society. Sin also isolates. It drives a wedge between family members and it separates the sinner from God, Isa. 59:2.
- Leprosy destines things for the fire - Lev. 13:52 - Everything the leper touched was burned! So it is with sin! It destines those afflicted by it to the fires of eternal torment, Psa. 9:17!
- The Nature Of His Approach
What brought this poor man to Jesus? Perhaps he awakened in the leper colony that morning and heard the news that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Perhaps he heard the good news that Jesus had been healing the sick and casting out devils.
He heard the word somehow and faith was awakened in his heart. Maybe he said within himself, “If Jesus can do all those things for other, I am sure that He can heal me!”
He made his way to where Jesus was. It took great courage for this man to approach the Savior that day. He risked stoning, humiliation and death to get to the Lord.
Can you imagine the reaction of the crowd as that leper began to push his way through? They must have scattered in horror, recoiling, as the leper approached with his cries of “Unclean! Unclean!”
Surely, some of his fellow lepers tried to discourage him. they might have said, “You better stay here with us. Jesus won’t help you. He doesn’t care about a wretch like you.” But, faith had been awakened in his heart and faith was pushing him toward Jesus.
Note: That’s the way it works. The Spirit of God arouses faith in the heart of the lost person. That person sees his condition and realizes that the only hope he has is to get to Jesus. When that awareness dawns in the heart of a lost person, they will go through whatever they have to go through to get to Him!
When a lost person comes to Jesus, the devil says “You’re not worthy to come to Jesus!” He is right! Your own heart says, “You’re not worthy to come to Jesus!” Your heart is right! But, don’t let them stop you from coming!
You might not be worthy to come, but He will never turn you away when you do, John 6:37. That is the power of God’s amazing grace! When the flesh and the devils say, “You’re not worthy to come”, they are right! But, when they say, “He won’t have you” they are dead wrong!
- The Nature Of His Appeal
This man came to Jesus the right way. He came humbly and he came in faith, Ill: Psa. 51:17. He realized that he deserved nothing, but he knew enough about Jesus to know that if the Lord wanted to, He could heal his body. His words are filled with faith!
When this leper speaks, he acknowledges the Lord’s authority and power. So should we!
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