Luke 5:12-26 “Two meters From Sin”

Hello, introductions are overrated, open your bibles, or follow along on-screen to Luke 5:12

Luke 5:12  While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 

 It’s often really hard as a preacher to bring you back into the world of the bible. 2000 years of culture and change can make the bible so alien to us. It’s hard for me to explain leprosy. You see it was this contagious disease that caused the person bearing it to have to be isolated from the rest of society. They would have to live apart from everyone else and rarely get to see friends or family. It’s hard to understand how a disease could cause such social isolation …. 

Wait, this just in, Breaking news (Flash breaking news graphic) 
 Covid 19, social isolation …. 

 Ok, maybe this is not so strange to us, Covid 19 is convenient after all. 

 Leprosy is like this, you know that fear that you have, if you see a coughing stranger, or see someone touching things inappropriately. This is the fear that leprosy brought to the ancient world. 

 There was a strict biblical code of isolation for people with Leprosy.

Leviticus 13:45   “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. 

 Now, these were important rules to prevent the spread of inflection but some Israelites were more stringent in applying these rules than others. The Pharisees in particular, if Leviticus states that they should be outside the camp, they want them 10 miles outside, just to be on the safe side of the law. 
 Leprosy also has connotations that the leper deserves their state due to some sin in their life. After all, God strikes Miriam with leprosy for challenging Moses’s right to lead.

Numbers 12:10  When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow.

 So, this man has heard of Jesus’ power. He has faith that Jesus can cleanse him. And so he shuns societal convention and gets within 2 meters of Jesus.
 We can feel what this is like, imagine a stranger, who was visibly coughing and feverish getting right into your personal space, that is exactly the feeling when someone with Leprosy came near in the ancient world. Except that getting leprosy was far worse than Covid19. 

 But this man comes boldly with his leprosy. He believes that Jesus has the power to heal him. His question is only if Jesus was willing, He believed Jesus was able. 

 This is always, by the way, our posture in prayer. We know that God is about to do all good things, it is only a matter if or when he wills it.

Luke 5:13 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. 

The touch here is the key moment. This is like giving a kiss to someone with Covid, touch is the way that you transmit the disease.
To touch a leper is to make oneself unclean, now it is not strictly a sin to become unclean. It was a sin to approach God in the temple while unclean.
 But Jesus does not become unclean here because at the moment he touches the leper. The instant his hand contacts the leper’s scarred skin, the leper becomes clean from Jesus! Instead of Jesus being defiled by leprosy, Jesus holiness casts off the leprosy. 
The key point is that Jesus risks all societal expectations and even risks being seen as ritually unclean to show his compassion for this poor man.

This is going to get me to the point of this sermon, and I’m going to mention it again and again but it is this.
Jesus’ life shows us that the bigger risk is failing to love, then failing to stay 2 meters away from sin.

Yes, it was dangerous to touch this man
Yes, Jesus could have contracted leprosy.
Yes, it could have made him ritually unclean.
Yes, it could have offended the pharisee’s sense of what was right for a great teacher.

But failing to love this man was far more of a risk than anything else. Love and Justice are the Law too, God’s law is a law of Love

Luke 5:14 And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 

 Jesus is careful to tell this man to go to the priest for examination and to make an offering to keep the Law. Jesus does risk being seen as a violator of the law for Love’s sake but is also careful to keep the law at the same time. Jesus, as the fulfillment of every Old testament hope lives out every jot and tittle of the Law. He, unlike the pharisees he is just as careful to Love his Neighbor as he is with the more ceremonial aspects.
Or to paraphase Luke 11:42  
 Jesus tithes the mint and cumin, but also does justice to mankind and loves God His father. 

Jesus commands the man to follow the Law, which means he would have had to bring two birds to the priest. One would be killed and the blood

7 And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed of the leprous disease. Then he shall pronounce him clean and shall let the living bird go into the open field. 8 And he who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water, and he shall be clean.
Leviticus 14:7-8

And then he would have to give a guilt offering of one male lamb and fine flour. And he would be clean. – Alright moving on

Luke 5:15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. 

This is just a side note, but I could preach a whole sermon on it. Jesus “would withdraw to desolate places and pray” 
  Busyness must never be mistaken for Godliness. Perhaps it’s something we are all learning now. 
 Jesus, God in the flesh, did not try to maximize his teaching time or his healing time. Sure, he taught, he healed, but he also withdrew to be by himself, but not really by himself. He withdrew to spend time with His Father in heaven.

 Jesus also retreats to pray because he can sense a battle brewing, The storm clouds are just on the horizon. Let’s take a look

Luke 5:17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 

Jesus, because of his teaching and miracles has attracted the attention of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. The storm is here. 
 The pharisee’s believed that Godliness lay in the strict application of the law in every aspect of life. They were well-meaning, religious people. The kind of people you would like your children to hang around with. They did not do drugs, curse, smoke, or watch PG 13 rated movies. They washed their hands, and if they were around today they would certainly wear a mask and stay 16 feet away from everyone.

So while all these important and impressive people were crowding around Jesus there was an uninvited guest.  

Luke 5:18 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. 

 These men loved their paralyzed friend. They also believed in the healing power of Jesus. So they decide that they are going to bring him to be healed. 
 But they could not get to Jesus because he was inside a crowded house. So they go up on the roof. This is not like going up on one of our roofs. Roofs in these days functioned like a deck on top of the house. It was where people spend time when it was too hot to be indoors. There were stairs or a ladder to get up there so going up on the roof was not odd.
 But then they get creative. They first had to break through the clay covering that made up the roof, this is what Luke calls the “tile” then they had to dig out the reeds and other fibrous material that held up the clay, which itself was held up by wooden beams.
They did all this while everyone was focused on Jesus’ teaching, then they let the man down the 6 to a 7-foot drop, probably with ropes, and set him before Jesus.

Luke 5:20 And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 

Here is the statement that shocks the Pharisees, and may be troublesome for us today.

Oh, question? (WorldPeaceChristian) Ok, I guess I have to move over here, you know social distancing.

“Hey pastor, I do love my idea’s about Jesus but, what is Jesus doing here? This poor man came to Jesus in desperate need of healing, and He forgives his sins? What good is that going to do him, you can’t feed your family with forgiveness?”

Ok, ahh yeah thanks for that. Yeah you see we might think that walking is this man’s most pressing need, but it’s not.  
This man lay before Jesus, without the use of his legs. But Jesus looks down at him and addresses his most pressing need. Which is to be reconciled to God.
You might be jobless, you may be penniless, you may be dying of cancer, and yet just like this man, your biggest need is to be reconciled to God. Because healed legs can only carry you as far as the grave, but with forgivness, there is eternal life.

Oh, another question. Ah yeah Cliched bible college professor.

“I have a query for you, actually it’s more of a statement, but I’m pretending it’s a question because it makes me appear less of a braggadocios blowhard. Why pray tell, does Jesus see the faith of the paralytic’s friends, but then forgive the paralytic’s sins? The paralytic is justified by his friend’s faith!“

Ok, that’s is a good, question/statement, whatever. Yeah, this is curious. 

Luke 5:20 And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 

So it’s a category error to think that Jesus forgives this man’s sin, just because of his friends faith, and not his own. Jesus responds to all of their faith and forgives the paralytic’s sins. So he forgives him based on his personal faith, as well as the faith of his friends who bring him to Jesus.

There is a truth here that we should not overlook. None of us come to Christ by ourselves. We come to Christ carried along by friends and family. I can think of my mom and Dad, youth leaders, pastors, friends. Those who shared the gospel with me, those who prayed for me. They in a carried me to Jesus as surely as these four men did the paralytic.
 And we are called, just like these four men who risked to dig through a roof, we are called to bear our friends and family to the feet of Jesus as well.

Ok, now we need to get the question from the Pharisees themselves. I’ll just read it from the bible since all the Pharisees are dead now. maybe not all, I have run into a few but they generally go by different names. 

Luke 5:21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 

Here begins the long conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees. They come for his teaching and miracles, but He immediately shocks them out of their scrupulous law-keeping stupor. By forgiving this man’s sin Jesus shocks the Pharisees sense of justice.

 Because if you are a Pharisee. You believe that this man is a Paralytic because he is a sinner, he has violated God’s law in some way to be deserving of this sin. We see this attitude even in Jesus’ disciples.

John 9:2-3  And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 

 SO the Pharisees don’t want this man to have his sins forgiven. After all, if you a Pharisee what is the point of being better then everyone else if God is just going to forgive these miserable souls who merely have to come to God by grace.

We often have the same attitudes, we see people who are suffering and our first impulse is that they are getting what they deserve, and we assume we deserve better. But God looks at the world with different eyes. 

But on the other hand, the Pharisees are on to something here. Jesus cannot just pronounce forgiveness. After all if this man had sinned against Jesus, Jesus could forgive him of that sin, But what right does Jesus have to pronounce forgiveness from God? After all only God can do that. 
Luke 5:22-26
When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”- he said to the man who was paralyzed- “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” 

Jesus does not answer their question directly, but he set’s up a logical path for us to follow along, and oohh, here is a fancy flow chart that just appeared beside me, cool.

First – Which is easier? To say your sins are forgiven or to say Rise and Walk? Well, It’s easy to say the man is forgiven, talk is cheap, but a real miracle, that is hard.
Second – If Jesus can command the man to rise and walk, which is hard, then the pharisee will know that Jesus also has the authority to forgive sins. 
Now, that is the immediate logic, but we just need to take it one step further.
3 – If we accept the pharisee’s premise that only God can pronounce forgiveness sins, then
Everything falls into place. Jesus’ healing of the man, proves his authority to forgive, His authority to forgive sins shows that Jesus of Nazareth is God!

And so not only does Jesus have mercy on this poor soul on account of his and his friend’s faith to boldly go to Jesus, but Jesus also shows himself to be God in the flesh, with the authority to forgive sins.

Now the forgiveness is rooted in Jesus dying on the cross for this man’s sins. And so just as he touches the unclean leper, taking the leper’s uncleanliness upon himself and giving the man healing. He also takes on the paralytic’s sins, which he will bear with the sins of all the elect to the cross. And there make a way for even you out there, who may be an outcast, who may be far from God. Jesus wants to touch you, no matter how far away you are, and take your sins upon himself, and make you clean by faith. 

When we read this test 
1) We see the gospel. We see Jesus giving of himself, taking on the sin and uncleanliness of the world, which he will bear to the cross, dying for sin. So that we can be saved by faith alone and not by being good.

2) This shows Christian how we are to live in the world.

Jesus was willing to break the non-scriptural traditions to show mercy and love to the unfortunate.
Jesus’ life shows us that the bigger risk is failing to love, then failing to stay 2 meters away from sin.

In Christian circles, we tend to set up miles of distance between ourselves and hurting people. Hurting people can be difficult, they can be dangerous, they can hurt us. But just as Jesus was willing to touch the leper we must be willing to get close to those who are outcast. Just like Jesus was willing to offend the sensibilities of these scribes and pharisee’s, the safe people. We must be willing to open our lives to those that society keeps at arm’s length.

Jesus’ life shows us that the bigger risk is failing to love, then failing to stay 2 meters away from sin.


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