Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
March 11, 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. Under the Thesis of Ambiguity (see Study # 1 for 03/04/2007 <326>)...
- A. An unnamed man in an unnamed city...
- 1. This is not Luke's typical pattern (note the next reference to a "city" -- 7:11), though it is interesting that he returned to it in 17:12 with the record of the healing of ten lepers.
- 2. But there is a deliberate contrast between the "city" and the "deserts" (verses 12 & 16).
- 3. There is also a link between the leper's "prayer" and Jesus' (same verses).
- B. Luke's Greek is awkward: It is his intent to compel his reader(s) to "slow down".
- 1. Not only does he not use the typical temporal participle to tell us where Jesus is, he throws in an extra "kai" and a deliberate "behold" before he records the leper's activities.
- 2. Even a person who used Greek natively would have recognized the structure as more complex and for a person learning Greek, it throws in all kinds of difficulties.
- 3. It seems indisputable, then, that Luke was doing what he could to slow the reader down to ponder what the record was about....
- C. It is a "male" full of leprosy that is to have our undivided attention.
- 1. This is the typical term for a "husband" and it deliberately sidesteps the "generality" of "a man" as a human being (note Luke 1:27, 34; 2:36; and 5:8). Luke uses the word in 25 references and seems to deal with it as "man as a responsible creature before God".
- 2. Luke's "leper" focus...
- a. There are five references to "lepers" in Luke.
- 1) The first is 4:27 where Jesus uses the cleansing of a leper to confront the attitude of the Nazarenes.
- 2) The second and third are 5:12, 13 (this present record).
- 3) The fourth is 7:22 where Jesus answers John's question by demonstrating His powers to heal the blind, lame, lepers, deaf, and deceased.
- 4) And the last is 17:12 where "in a certain 'village', there met Him ten ... lepers". In this record, the ten "stood afar off", rather than falling on their faces before Jesus. Like 5:14 this record has Jesus sending them to the priests. But, the twist in this record is, "Where are the nine?" Only a Samaritan turns back to glorify God.
- b. There are no records in the Acts of the Apostles of activities regarding lepers even though the commission in Matthew 10:8 includes "cleansing the lepers".
- c. In the other Gospels, there is only the repetition of Luke's records and two references to "Simon the Leper" as a host of Jesus (Matthew 26:6 and Mark 14:3).
- d. Luke, clearly, has the "edge" in dealing with leprosy.
- 1) Cleansing leprosy was a major demonstration of the power of God, but it was not often done.
- 2) There is a "sour note" in Luke's record in his last reference to the ten. There is something about leprosy that not only eats away the flesh; it must also eat away the soul as nine of the ten didn't even sense a need to give thanks.
- 3) The leper in our current text clearly had a better "attitude" than the nine. But it is Luke's testimony that he came to Jesus without any confidence that He was "willing". This would naturally be the case if, in fact, this man had been "praying" to God for cleansing for some time (years??) and had seen no indication that God was "willing" to answer his plea. What is it about getting what you want from Jesus, but not from His Father? This is the same issue of the years of prayer by Zacharias and Elizabeth not getting an answer until way past the years of bearing. It is the same issue as Abraham being promised a son and being made to wait for 25 years to experience the fulfillment. It is, in a sense, the same issue we face with the promise of Eternal Life and being made to wait all of our lifetime before we get to really enter into it.
- D. The Leper's "Faith".
- 1. It is a "power focused" faith.
- 2. But it is not a "wisdom focused" faith.
- a. The leper clearly knows that God can.
- b. But the leper also clearly knows that God's abilities are not what is at issue. There is, in the wisdom of God, a high degree of "developmental application" of the promises, faith, and the fulfillment. The selfishness of man in his wants is a profoundly difficult issue and the working of God to draw him out of that selfishness is a decidedly slow process. Even in our text, the wishes of Jesus are over-run by the selfishness of the men for whom He does such great things.