Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3
Thesis: The "willingness" of God is heavily dependent upon the "agenda" of God.
Introduction: Last week we spent our time together looking into the leper's prayer. We looked into his motivation, his desperation, his theology, and whether he is, in fact, an "example" for us. And, in a very real sense, he is an example for us in a limited sort of way. The "outer boundaries" of his "example" are two: he had a problem that he knew Jesus could "handle"; and he brought this problem to Jesus to see if He was willing to "handle" it in the same way that the leper wanted it "handled".
For two weeks now we have attempted to make the point that "conditional discipleship" is not discipleship at all. Perhaps the greatest problem men have -- of all the problems they face -- is the delusion that they are legitimate "negotiators" in respect to the issue of discipleship...that they have the "right" to insist not only upon certain "outcomes" for their participation with God, but also upon certain "processes". They, in effect, say, "If You will agree to my pre-sets, I will serve You." That this is a rather blatant contradiction of divine omniscience, divine wisdom, and divine love ... that they are, in effect, saying, "If You will subject your knowledge, your wisdom, and your love to mine..." ... never seems to enter their brains.
But, this morning, it is going to enter our brains. What we do with it is up to us, but we are going to, at least, face it. We are going to do this by looking again at Luke's record of the healing of the leper. We are going to zero in on Jesus' answer to his "statement/question".
March 18, 2007
- I. The Second Part of Jesus' Answer.
- A. He said, "I am willing; be cleansed."
- 1. He used "lego"; the word for significant "content".
- 2. He blended the leper's theology -- power plus desire.
- B. He created an enormous difficulty for everyone who witnessed/witnesses the event.
- 1. The difficulty was temporarily obliterated by the tidal wave of the event.
- 2. But, once the waters receded, the "problem" sat exposed on the beach.
- 3. The "problem" is this: what made Jesus "willing" at this moment in time with this leper and not countless other moments of time with countless other lepers, not to mention all of those with lesser problems?
- a. Does anyone here suppose that this is the first time this leper ever sought divine relief from his leprosy, or that this was the only leper in the world who asked God for His cleansing?
- b. Why was Jesus "willing" at this point and not on countless other ones?
- C. He forced a most fundamental issue: how shall we determine the truth about the character of God and His attitude toward us?
- 1. Is God's character and attitude determined by the blend of our experiences and our understanding?
- a. Satan screams, "YES, YES, YES".
- b. Most humans agree with him.
- 2. But, the fact is, that is a huge lie that goes back to the delusion I mentioned in the introduction to this message.
- a. The fact is that God's character and attitudes have never changed: He is immutable.
- b. The fact is that God's plans arise from His character and attitudes.
- 1) This means that God intends and acts to bring His Plan to pass by implementing many plans.
- 2) Because the end is the result of each of the various lesser plans, God does one thing one day and another thing another day and men often erroneously conclude that there is no rhyme or reason. [It appears that, just as we make decisions one way one day and another way on another day, God also makes decisions in regard to our "points in time" that give every impression of "whimsey"].
- a) But this introduces the reality of "impressions".
- b) They are, invariably, developed by interested individuals who, also invariably, have little to no grasp of the magnitude of the divine knowledge, wisdom, and program, and have little to no grasp of the impact that a decision will have downline.
- c) Nor do they have any great interest in those matters: they, typically, care only about their immediate matter of concern.
- d) And not only that, but their "care" is very typically highly selfish. With these facts in mind, we must understand that "impressions" are immediately "suspect" and need to be held at arms length in the light of Solomon's wisdom in both Ecclesiastes 3:14 and 8:17.
- c. The fact is that we experience the Plan one increment at a time without either His omniscience, or His love: any "theology" that is developed out of experience and ignorance is, simply put, foolish beyond measure.
- d. The fact is that physical healing, even coupled with emotional healing, is a meaningless phenomenon in the context of spiritual alienation.
- e. The fact is that spiritual alienation exists everywhere conditional discipleship exists.
- f. And the last fact is that God has spoken in words and history in as plain a set of terms as is possible about His character and attitudes. [The most significant issue involved with this text is whether a man will actually believe the testimony of the Scriptures in respect to the character of God.]
- II. The First Part of Jesus' Answer.
- A. He broke all of the legal/cultural norms regarding leprosy.
- 1. When God gave the Law to Israel through Moses, He did so with an omniscience-based understanding of every single process in the entire universe.
- a. This means that there is not a single atom anywhere in this entire creation that can "do its thing" without God knowing exactly what its entire downline impact will be for all of time (for God there is no such thing as the "law" of "unintended consequences").
- b. This also means that the "processes" of communicable diseases are perfectly known to God.
- c. This, then, also means that when He gave His instructions about the isolation of lepers, He was doing so in order to protect everyone who would get leprosy from someone who already had it. [Illustration: Now, finally, after 6,000 years men have begun to understand the issues of "communicable diseases" -- the processes men put in place to protect their patients while they have no bone marrow...]
- 2. When our text tells us that Jesus, "having stretched forth His hand", "touched" the leper, we are being told that Jesus "broke" the Law regarding communicable diseases.
- 3. How could He legitimately do this?
- a. He clearly understood the exact meaning of the laws regarding communicable diseases.
- b. That exact meaning includes the "intention" -- the underlying, divine, reason.
- c. The "intention" of God was to prevent the spread of infection.
- d. Since Jesus could not be "infected", He was free to operate on a different level...a higher level...than someone who could be infected.
- 4. Why did He do this?
- a. It was not required for the physical aspect of healing -- see Luke 17.
- b. It was, apparently, required for some reason because God does nothing without cause.
- c. The most likely reason was that the touch was a part of the proof to the leper that Jesus was "willing".
- 1) Remember that Luke's burden is to generate a huge, earth-shaking, theological shift in the minds of men: Yahweh is gracious.
- 2) If Luke 17 has a point to make in respect to Luke 5, it may well be that "healing without touching" leads to "health without gratitude"...i.e., physical well being while the soul is still significantly warped.
- B. He touched the leper.