Monday, August 29, 2016

The Untouchable

Matthew 8:1-4 (The Message version)

Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, “Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.”Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone. Jesus said, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”
Things to think about:

  • Leprosy is a disease that attacks the nerves. Left untreated it causes damage to the skin, nerves, eyes, and limbs.  By itself, it does not cause body parts to fall of, rather that comes from secondary infections that are often left untreated because of numbness.  Because it was thought to be highly contagious, “The Untouchables" traditionally have lived quarantined lives away from the “healthy” population. 
    • I didn’t know any of this stuff. I thought it was flesh-eating disease that caused fingers, noses, ears, etc. to fall off.
    • interestingly, one can have the infection for up to 20 years before exhibiting symptoms  
  • while I don’t think any of us have leprosy, we all have a sin problem. This sin problem dulls our senses and sensitivities causing various parts of our lives to become unfit for their proper function.
    • depending on what the manifestation of one's sin is, a person can also be ostracized by society, family , friends 
    • I’m thinking of things like addictions (alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling), adultery, stealing
    • can you see the connection between an insidious disease like leprosy and the analogy to sin?
  • I love the leper! This sick man simply falls to his knees and says to Jesus, “Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.”
    • He acknowledges Jesus for Who He is - Master
    • He appeals to Jesus’ gracious nature, “if you want to"
    • He asks for His healing power
  • Jesus is immediate in His  compassion - “I want to”
    • He is immediate in His action - He reached out and touched him
  • Who has God placed in your path who is an “untouchable”?
    • are you willing to befriend them?
    • is there an act of mercy or compassion that you could extend to them to make a meaningful change in their life?
      • e.g., offering forgiveness or being generous with your time or gifts
  • Then Jesus says a strange thing (strange at least to me), “Don’t talk about this…”
    • can you imagine in our age of social media??? This would blow up on Facebook!
    • Instead, Jesus tells the man to go to the place of worship and present himself to the priest (quite possibly an opponent of His)
      • notice I didn’t call him "the leper" this time? We are not defined by our shortcomings once we have met the Savior
    • He also tells the healed man to give an appropriate thanks offering to God
      • short of his very life, what would be an “appropriate expression of thanks to God”???
      • And that’s just what Jesus tells him - let your “cleansed and grateful life.. bear witness to what I have done."
    • We have been healed of way more than leprosy!
      • What is an appropriate expression of gratitude that God is nudging you with right now?
      • Why are mere words and religious ceremony inadequate?
  • Give thanks to God today today by living your gratitude “out loud” so that your very life bears witness to what He has done for YOU!

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