Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
Thesis: Living with ambiguity is a major challenge.
Introduction: As we turn to our Bibles this morning, we turn to a new record of Jesus' works. Luke 5:12-16 is a record of Jesus' response to the entreaty of a leper. Leprosy had its place on the cultural stage in the first century as that generation's equivalent of AIDS. It was communicable, gradually destructive, incurable, and considered to be a judgment from God. Anyone who had it was forced to deal with all of these aspects of it at every level -- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So, for Luke to immediately turn from Jesus' acquisition of disciples to Jesus' healing of a leper probably means something significant. This morning we are going to begin a consideration of the record of the cleansing of this leper.
March 4, 2007
- I. The Significance of the Cleansing in General Terms.
- A. On the one hand, as a Kinsman-Redeemer Who was operating within the context of the Land Covenant, Jesus' cleansing of a leper was a highly visible demonstration of His ability to produce Kingdom conditions.
- 1. That He was able to do this was a crucial requirement of His identify.
- 2. That He demonstrated His ability was a crucial requirement for His accomplishment: the Kingdom cannot exist where people do not believe, and legitimate faith does not exist where there is no foundation for it.
- B. On the other hand, as a Kinsman-Redeemer Who was operating within the context of the Land Covenant under the Law of Moses, Jesus' cleansing of a leper was a highly visible demonstration of the character-focus about God that is required for those who will participate in the Kingdom.
- 1. It is a major thesis for Luke that God must be seen in respect to a primary orientation toward grace if people are going to ever be able to move out of the fear setting into Life.
- 2. Grace that is mostly demonstrated in settings where human merit can be figured into the equation is typically distorted from its essence (Take careful note of Luke 7:4-5 in the context of 7:1-10 and answer this question: Why is it that every time a sermon is preached about some great benefit that God does for someone, there is an almost knee-jerk characterization of the recipient as "worthy"? "Preacher, would you pray for rain?").
- II. The Significance of the Cleansing in the Details of the Record.
- A. The most significant "theme" that runs through this record is that of "ambiguity".
- 1. For Luke to not tell us the name of the city, nor the name of the leper, is somewhat of a shock.
- a. Luke has been meticulous about making sure his record can be validated.
- 1) Note 1:3-4 because it indicates that Luke thought Theophilus needed the details as well as the validation.
- 2) Note 3:1-2 because it seems to go on and on before the real issue is brought into focus.
- b. The story before us cannot be "researched" and "validated".
- c. This means that Luke deliberately makes "ambiguity" a matter of his "intention".
- 2. Note the leper's declaration in his appeal.
- a. There is no sense that Jesus "cannot".
- b. There is a significant sense that Jesus may not be "willing".
- c. The leper's "problem" is "ambiguity".
- 3. Note Jesus' deliberately restrictive and focused charge.
- a. How did He think that His charge was to be carried out?
- b. What did He think would happen with the priest?
- 4. Note the total failure.
- a. In 5:15 the record is the opposite of what Jesus wanted.
- b. In 5:17 and following the record is the opposite of what Jesus wanted.
- 5. Note Jesus' behavior as a major contrast to every other man's methods.
- 6. No matter where we turn in this paragraph, "ambiguity" reigns.
- B. The most significant "connection" that this record has is its immediate proximity to Jesus' acquisition of "disciples".
- 1. The prior undercurrent to the "disciple" issue has been "rejection".
- a. Luke's first record of Jesus' "ministry" was His rejection by the Nazarenes.
- b. The immediate consequence of His first "ministry" in Capernaum is the demon's "rejection" of the "Nazarene".
- c. The people of Capernaum were presented as fundamentally too self-focused to embrace His "ministry" as "for others".
- 2. The major issue of "discipleship" is not whether people will be persuaded by the radical outpouring of benefits to jump on the bandwagon of "being a disciple of Jesus"; it is whether they will continue to be such when "ambiguity" sets in and their own agendas begin to be denied.
- a. It is no accident that the most obvious stumbling block to "disciples" is their Lord's "unwillingness" to meet their desires.
- 1) Note the impact of the cleansing upon us as a question of application: if the leper could obtain cleansing from Jesus, why can we not get what we want from Him?
- 2) Note the fact that invariably, when a person alters course in terms of fidelity to Jesus, the reason is an event where the person did not get what he/she wanted and decided to "get even" by walking away from the commitment.
- b. It makes a great deal of sense for Luke to deliberately set the issue of "ambiguity" forth as soon as the discipleship issue has been set forth.
- III. The Point: Discipleship is About Following, Not Dictating.
- A. People are forever attempting to blame their hostility toward God upon God's "failures".
- B. But the plain fact is that it is not "discipleship" to come into the loyalty issue with a set of "conditions".