New Testament Journey Day 30: Matthew 8:1-4. Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy.
Leprosy, like AIDS & Coronavirus today, was a terrifying disease because there was no known cure. In Jesus’ day, the Greek word for “leprosy” was used for a variety of similar diseases, and some forms were contagious. If a person contracted the contagious type, a priest declared him a leper and banished him to a community with other lepers until he either got better or died. Yet when the leper begged Jesus to heal him, Jesus reached out and touched him, even though his skin was covered with the dreaded disease.
My husband recently preached a sermon on the “Leprosy of Sin”. How sin, like leprosy, can alienate us from our families and communities. Sin separates us from God. Sin is also an incurable disease – and we all have it. ONLY Christ’s healing touch can miraculously take away our sins and restore us to real living. But first, just like the leper, we must realize our inability to cure ourselves and ask for Christ’s saving help.
Can you imagine how the leper felt when he looked down and saw his clean skin? This meant he could go home and see his wife and his children. He could once again enjoy the life he had been given. Can you imagine the gratitude and love for Jesus this man felt for healing him and giving him life. He’d want to do anything for Jesus – he’d follow him – tell others of him – he’d love him. THAT is what it’s like when you fully realize what Jesus has done for you. How because of his sacrifice on the cross you can have eternal life with those you love! You love him like the leper and you serve him because you want to – out of a place of appreciation in your heart for the new life you’ve been given. Not out of a place of religious repetition.
So often we think “I’ll get my act together FIRST and then I’ll go to church and get right with God.” If that is your mindset, you will never go. The gospel is called the “Good News” because it’s available to ANYONE. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done … people like to “limit” God’s saving grace and that is a false mindset. The sin of lying and envy is just as much of a sin as murder. There is no “difference” between sin in God’s eyes. Both separate you from God – both can be forgiven. You’ll never look on the face of someone God doesn’t love and isn’t willing to accept into the Kingdom as long as they follow the gospel plan of salvation. Affairs, abortions, addictions, malice, envy, strife -all is forgiven at the cross.
We just talked about Paul this week at church. Paul was persecuting Christians – He was a nasty dude. And then God struck him down with blindness and Paul (Who was Saul at the time) said “God, is that you?” God told him to get up and go to Damascus and a man would tell him what to do. Saul was OBEDIENT – He got up and headed to Damascus. (How many times do bad things happen and God is trying to get our attention – but instead of being obedient – we continue to live in rebellion) When he arrived in Damascus he spoke with the man who said “Saul, Saul why tarriest thou? Repent, be baptized, washing away your sins and calling on the name of the Lord.” Saul repented, he got baptized, he got on fire for the Lord and was used by God in a mighty way. God changed his name to Paul because he was a new man. The bible says “Behold, ALL things are passed away, all become new.” What about you – are you longing for a “new life” – a “new identity”??
You too can have this same gift of eternal life and hope in Jesus. It requires simple obedience. Arise, repent, be baptized washing away your sins and then you will receive the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit that guides us into truth.
Sin separates us from God. If you have contemplated giving your heart to God, of repenting and being baptized but have been putting it off, put it off no longer. Tom and I are here for anyone who would like to speak about the Gospel plan of salvation. We will meet you at the church, talk with you, and baptize you into Christ. At that point, God no longer looks on you and sees your sin – he looks at you and sees someone washed white as snow and covered in the blood of Jesus.
When was the last time you reached out and shared the gospel with someone suffering from the leprosy of sin?