Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
Thesis: There is a "wisdom" problem in the matter of making requests of God.
Introduction: In our introductory study of Luke's record of the healing of a leper, we attempted to make the point that Luke was being deliberately ambiguous and that he had a specific reason for putting this ambiguity in immediate proximity to His acquisition of the first disciples. It was my claim last week that ambiguity is the greatest challenge to discipleship. No one minds being the disciple of someone from whom they can obtain anything they desire. But everyone seems to mind being the disciple of someone whose plans put them in significant discomfort. And that discomfort is increased when there is no strong sense of conviction that the problem will, at least eventually, go away.
This morning we are going to continue to consider Luke's record of the healing of the leper. We are going to consider the leper's prayer.
March 11, 2007
- I. The Leper's Motivation.
- A. Leprosy was a high profile issue in the Old Testament
- 1. The first reference to leprosy is Exodus 4.
- a. It is interesting that both a serpent and leprosy were "signs" given to Moses to get the people to believe that Yahweh had sent him as their deliverer.
- 1) It is even more interesting that there is no specific reference to Moses' use of the leprosy "sign" (though Exodus 4:30 implies its use), but there is further reference to the staff turning into a serpent.
- 2) It is probably not an accident that John's major theme was of God's ability to turn a "viper" into an heir of God's Kingdom, nor that Luke deliberately puts "leprosy" into his record as a "discipleship" issue.
- b. This first reference gains significance from the later references.
- 2. There are three very high visibility "events" associated with leprosy in the Old Testament record.
- a. The first of these is recorded in Numbers 12: Miriam is judged with leprosy for her arrogance (but not Aaron).
- b. The second of these is recorded in 2 Kings 5 where Gehazi has the leprosy of Naaman placed upon him for his covetousness.
- c. The third of these is recorded in 2 Chronicles 26 where Uzziah was stricken by God with leprosy for his arrogance (this was the king whose death precipitated Isaiah's vision).
- 3. The overall impression, coupled with Yahweh's statement in Leviticus 14:34, is that leprosy is a potent demonstration of divine displeasure.
- B. Leprosy was a potent destroyer of body and soul that left its victims significantly warped.
- 1. Consider Luke 17:12 and following: what could possibly explain the ingratitude of the nine?
- 2. Even in our text, the leper has backed up into the "safest" place theologically (everyone can subscribe to the "ability" of God).
- II. The Leper's Desperation.
- A. He is "full" of the problem as a "man".
- 1. As a "man", he is significantly into the "responsibility" issues -- "under the pile".
- 2. As "full of leprosy", his situation has gradually grown worse and worse until there is leprosy everywhere.
- B. He "falls on his face".
- 1. There is no culture where this is not humiliating (even the animal kingdom recognizes this).
- 2. This is the most antithetical reality of contrast between the Kingdoms.
- a. The kingdom of darkness abhors humiliation as the worst possible experience.
- b. The Kingdom of Light embraces humility as the best possible characteristic.
- C. He "beseeches".
- 1. Typically, this word signals a fairly high level of desperation (Luke 8:28 and 9:38).
- 2. The kingdom of darkness calls this "groveling"; the Kingdom of Light reveals it as the best expression of a creature in respect to the Creator.
- II. The Leper's Theology.
- A. It is "power focused".
- B. It is "this-world focused".
- C. It is "Jesus-as-Lord focused".
- III. The Leper's Example.
- A. It shines as an illustration of the believer's freedom: 1 Peter 5:7.
- B. But it stands as both a challenge and a warning to us.
- 1. The facts are these: even in the ministry of Jesus under the land covenant, there is a clear lack of significant healings of lepers; there is no example of such healings in Acts; and there is a deliberate shift in Paul's theology where there is no land covenant.
- a. Paul declared that Jesus is our Life.
- b. Paul demonstrated that most of our "concerns" are illegitimate.
- 2. The "warning" is that the "if you are willing" issues have changed.
- 3. The "challenge" is the question of what you will do with Jesus when His "will" is significantly different from yours and He is full of grace and you are not.