Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
March 4, 2007
12 And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
13 And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.
14 And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
15 But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities.
16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
1901 ASV Translation:
12 And it came to pass, while he was in one of the cities, behold, a man full of leprosy: and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
13 And he stretched forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou made clean. And straightway the leprosy departed from him.
14 And he charged him to tell no man: but go thy way, and show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
15 But so much the more went abroad the report concerning him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed of their infirmities.
16 But he withdrew himself in the deserts, and prayed.
- I. The Leprosy Issue.
- A. A deliberately ambiguous setting ("one of the cities").
- B. A specifically potent issue ("full of leprosy").
- C. A theologically sensitive balance ("if You will, You can").
- D. A culturally important impact ("show yourself to the priest...for a testimony").
- E. An intention to remain faithful (He withdrew and prayed").
- II. The Focus: The Danger of Ambiguity [Nothing is "clear-cut"; it's all "messy"].
- A. The ambiguity of the setting.
- 1. Both the city and the leper remain unnamed.
- a. This makes it very difficult for Luke's reader(s) to verify the record. This is not typically "Luke" who, as a historian, was pretty careful to establish his facts in verifiable history.
- b. Thus, the "untypical" calls for some attention...why is Luke being "ambiguous"?
- 2. The record follows immediately upon the heels of Simon Peter's inclusion by Jesus in His Kingdom program.
- a. The "bigger picture"...
- 1) Luke moves through the "Nazarene" rejection stories -- both the rejection by Nazareth of His identity as the Revealer (opening the eyes of the blind) and the rejection by the demon in Capernaum ("What have we to do with Thee, Thou Nazarene?) -- and the exorcism/healing "authority" stories (indiscriminate exorcisms and healings on a large scale) to the rejection by Jesus of the attempt to dissuade Him from His "calling".
- 2) Then, Luke moves into the "discipleship" paragraph where He obtains three major players in the unfolding Plan (Peter, James, and John).
- b. The "major thesis"...
- 1) Things do not "work out for disciples" according to desire or expectation. They did not so even for Jesus, so there is no reason to expect that they will for the lesser-than-Jesus disciples.
- 2) It is no accident that the major disaffection that "disciples" have with their calling is the "surprises" along the way in terms of things they did not anticipate or desire.
- B. The ambiguity of the leper's "conviction".
- C. The ambiguity of the reaction.
- D. The withdrawal and prayer: indications of serious need -- perhaps, even, danger.