The Sick Realize They Need Jesus…Do We?
Let’s take a walk together through Luke 5:12–32! Bold words (not underlined) below are from the Bible.
Luke 5:12-32 (NIV)
Jesus Heals a Man With Leprosy
12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
[Do we believe this?
Do we believe we are in need of being made clean?
Are we “mistakers” simply in need of more education/better information/more effective strategies? Or are we sinners in need of re-birth, a new heart, a complete mental/spiritual overhaul? The Bible emphatically teaches the latter…
Do we believe that Jesus is the Person to make us clean?
There are LOTS of entrees and side dishes in the spiritual buffet of life. Will we take a little bit of this, a little bit of that, or will we put all our eggs in the Jesus basket? When you have a specific physical illness like strep throat, do you go to the pharmacy and take a little bit of ALL of the medicines (or the ones that YOU/a celebrity/a best-selling author THINKS are best), or do you speak to a trained doctor to find out the specific medicine for strep throat and take that alone according to the doctor’s specific instructions? We wouldn’t do that physically, so why do we think it’s wise to do it spiritually? Jesus says, “Come to ME” (emphasis mine)
Do we believe that Jesus is WILLING to make us clean?
Do we think that our sickness is TOO MUCH for Jesus to handle? Have we gone “too far” to be healed by Him, have we done things “too terrible” to be forgiven? Do we believe that Jesus is like a prison warden who loves to throw people into solitary confinement and gleefully deny parole? Or do we believe that Jesus wholeheartedly and unconditionally offers us His love, forgiveness, and new life? Do we believe that Jesus deeply desires us to come to Him to get forgiven of our dirtiness and also to get cleaned up of our dirtiness? Do we believe that Jesus is WILLING? That our forgiveness, healing and transformation are literally what HE wants & desires?
14 Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
What does it look like for us to “come to Jesus”? We can’t physically see Him (yet!!!), and He isn’t pinned down to one location near Jerusalem the way He was 2,000 years ago. So how do we come to Jesus to be healed? Faith is a big portion of this—not blind faith, but faith…
Think About It Like This
If you have a winning lottery ticket that someone bought you as a gift, you have to have faith that there is a Sweepstakes game called the Lotto (maybe it’s a hoax like those emails from around the world asking you to “hold” millions of dollars in exchange for your bank account number!), then you have to believe that you actually have a genuine ticket (maybe it’s a forgery), then you have to believe that the ticket is a winner, is qualified to win the jackpot (maybe it’s a practical joke from someone looking to punk you!). And then you have to have faith to actually go down to claim your prize and finally sign your name to the back of the ticket (if it is a joke I will look like an idiot or worse for getting excited about it), signifying that you are the holder of that ticket and that you agree to the terms of the prize (agree to have your name used in publicity photos/articles/commercials, etc.—agree to let the world know that you have won! That’s a risk, that in itself takes faith!).
Similarly with Jesus, He has purchased with His death on the Cross and return to life a winning ticket not only to heaven but also to a victorious/real/full life on earth, a ticket that is FREE for us but VERY EXPENSIVE for God. Do we believe that we are sick (or just mis-informed?)? Do we believe that Jesus is ABLE to offer us such an amazing free gift (or was He just a carpenter)? Do we believe that He really did WILLINGLY die on that cross and come back to life (or is that just a fairy tale?)? And are WE willing to sign our names, so to speak, and agree to the simple terms of the free prize—agreeing that we need to be saved and that Jesus is the One to save us?
We come to Jesus by faith, going down not to an office building to claim our prize but going down on our knees to simply say “YES!” to Jesus to claim His prize of forgiveness and transformation…It’s not easy, but it really is that simple…
Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man
17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
[Please notice that while the man in the verses above clearly had a serious physical problem that Jesus was willing AND able to do something about, Jesus first addressed the SIN/spiritual issue that the man had. Do we realize too that no matter what physical/emotional/financial/relational/mental challenges we are facing, we are facing an even more serious spiritual challenge of sin? Let’s not just go to the Bible to get a few helpful strategies to live a more successful life without also going to the Bible to help us receive Jesus’ free gift of forgiveness, love and grace…]
21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
[Exactly. Many people today still seem to think that Jesus never claimed to be God. He did, in fact. Many of the people who interacted with Jesus 2,000 years ago realized that Jesus very clearly claimed to be God on a number of occasions.
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
[Wow. LOOK at the persistence of the men’s faith in Jesus—they would not be denied from finding Jesus, from getting His attention so that He could do for their friend what nothing else could do. Are we as persistent? Are we willing to do whatever it takes to find Jesus, to receive from Him what He is offering to us?]
Jesus Calls Levi and Eats With Sinners
27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
[Receiving Jesus (saying YES! to Him!) is necessary for us to be forgiven of our sins (sickness); following Jesus is part of the process of us being healed of/transformed from our sicknesses, our disease of selfishness, unforgiveness, stinginess, treating others & other things as if they are God, etc. Jesus didn’t choose Levi when Levi was a “finished product”; Jesus chose Levi when Levi was broken/sick/sinful and invited Levi to follow Jesus and be transformed over time. Love can sometimes blossom between friends as they go about simpy being friends, spending time together, serving each other, getting to know each other, etc. The same holds true with Jesus! As we follow Him, He begins and continues to heal us of our sicknesses!
But notice that Levi (later Matthew) didn’t consider following Jesus a hobby or something he did when he had time leftover. How can we get to the point where we “leave everything” (our old ways of thinking, our old dreams, our old ways of spending time, etc.) to learn from Jesus HIS way of thinking, HIS dreams for our lives, HIS way of spending time? Do we even WANT Him to teach us to leave everything for Him, or are we still gripping our past?
As I soaked in this passage last week, God helped me to see two main/big-picture points in this passage:
Do WE realize that WE are sick and in need of Jesus?
- For the forgiveness of our sins in general—YES!The Bible says we are in direct rebellion against God (whether we believe in Him or not!). Our sins are assassination attempts against God, our attempts to be the god of our own lives and to live as if God didn’t exist.Sometimes in a court of law, a prosecuting attorney will offer a plea deal BEFORE the case goes to trial, and this plea deal is usually a lesser sentence for the accused IF the accused agrees to plead guilty, to admit that they committed the crime they are accused of. Jesus offers us a plea deal before the trial begins at Judgment Day; if we plead guilty to being sinners and accept His death on the cross in our place, He will have taken our punishment for us and we will be set free forever!!! If we don’t take this plea deal and the case goes to trial, we will be found guilty and will serve our sentence ourselves, forever.But you might say, “I’m not even sure that God exists! How can I be found guilty for breaking His laws?”Before the discovery of the ozone layer and the realization that CFCs from certain factories and products were destroying the ozone, we humans were still able to damage that “invisible” to the naked eye but ever-present reality of our planet. Even though we didn’t know the ozone existed, even though we didn’t know that we were harming it with our products, we were still harming it! The same is true with God…
- But also for the transformation from our sins in particular…Jesus wants to heal us transform us from sins in addition to forgiving us!!!A favorite preacher of mine—Vance Havner—once said that most Christians are readily willing to admit that they are sinners in the big-picture sense……but few Christians he had met in his 80+ years on earth were willing to admit to specific sins, were willing to take responsibility for their specific flaws and shortcomings and crimes against God and others.
I remember in her bathroom that my Mom had a special magnifying round mirror with bright light bulbs all around it. Now I’ve never claimed to have great/clear skin—in the “big picture” I knew that my complexion wasn’t (isn’t!) perfect and would quickly agree to that. But when I looked into that magnifying mirror with the light bulbs, it specifically showed that my skin wasn’t great/clear! I saw stuff in my pores that was nasty! Yikes! Needless to say, I never looked into THAT mirror again!!!
And that is reflective of how many of us describe our sinfulness—we admit it big picture, but we don’t want to look at or talk about it under the magnifying lense.
But David, despite his many sins, had the courage to say the following to God:
Psalm 139:23-24: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
David is giving God permission to look at David’s soul, mind, body, thoughts, words, actions, desires, etc. under the magnifying lense of God’s Word and Truth and Holiness. David is making this request of God not so that God will ONLY encourage David with a cookie and a pat on the back but so that God will, upon finding spiritual cancer in David, lovingly but actively clean him out, remove the cancer and heal him over time. David didn’t want to be only loved by God but left in his then-current condition; David wanted to be loved by God AND healed/transformed over time!!!
David’s request of God here—his prayer to God—takes COURAGE! Prayer ain’t for sissies, ya’ll…prayer like this is for warriors…
And this isn’t a one-time event/prayer, but a regularly recurring request.
But we often don’t do this; instead, we often trivialize our individual/specific sins—many of us would rather learn how to live with our limp than let God re-break our legs to teach us how to leap…
Our sinfulness wants to justify, rationalize, deflect, shift responsibility, and blame others.
We say, “My sin is not a big deal—it’s not MURDER! At least I’m not HITLER!”
Can we please stop saying that?
ALL sin nailed Jesus to the Cross–Hitler’s sins AND my sins AND your sins—all of ‘em!
Or we make excuses: “I’ve had a rough week, things are tough at work, they started it, if he/she would only meet more of my needs, etc.”
STOP! We will never get healed of these sins if we don’t admit that we have them, if we don’t take personal responsibility for them, if we keep passing the hot-potato to someone else!
Are we willing to admit generally and specifically that we are SICK and in need of Jesus? Not just non-Christians but Christians as well! We don’t need Jesus LESS now that we are Christians—we still need Him! Babies don’t need oxygen and food LESS after they are born! Same with Christians! We need Jesus just as much today as we did before we believed!
Would we casually overlook a “small” spot of cancer on our liver? Would we not attack it ruthlessly? Let’s give Jesus permission to do the same to our “small” sins.
It should GRIEVE us when we sin, like when I lose my temper and speak rudely to my children. It GRIEVES me, and this grief causes me to RUN to Jesus for healing instead of sweeping it under the rug and blaming others so that the sin grows and continues.
It’s not that we are to walk around all day beating ourselves up and thinking how terrible/awful we are—not at all! It shouldn’t end our lives when we sin; if we have said yes to Jesus, our sins already ended HIS life (but only temporarily!).
But we do need to specifically admit/confess to Jesus our specific individual sins as He helps us to realize them, not so He can rub our faces in our sin but so He can rub the stain of sin off our souls—so that He can heal us!!! Confession is not just a Catholic thing—it’s a Christian thing!!!
If you went to the doctor and only said, “My health isn’t perfect!” it would be VERY difficult for the doctor to heal you! You need to get specific with the doc—ankle, shoulder, ear, etc. Healing can follow after a correct and accurate and specific diagnosis of the problem. The same is true spiritually—we need to learn to admit to God, on a regular basis, our specific sins so that He can prescribe, through the Holy Spirit and the Bible, the cure that we need to be transformed!!!
1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins (Spiritual) and purify us from all unrighteousness (practical).
QUOTE: Do not give fair names to foul sins. Call them what you will, they will smell no sweeter – Charles Spurgeon
QUOTE: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast [embrace] what is good.” Romans 12:9. Love. Abhor. Embrace. No love without both (John Piper).
Are we willing to look foolish in the eyes of the world in getting healed by Jesus, reading our Bible more frequently, not doing certain activities that we know deep down push us farther from God, praying throughout our day, accepting responsibility for our specific sins, etc.?
If you got your back terribly hurt in a car accident, people would understand that you would be focused on doing a lot of rehabilitative work—you wouldn’t be as available to do other things because getting healed would be such a priority…you would be intensely focused on getting healed, and you would be right to do so!
Let’s treat our spiritual injuries/sins the same way! Let’s work with God, the Bible, prayer, and others to allow God to rehab our souls!!! Confessing to God is an important step in our rehab process…
My second and final point that God taught me in this passage:
There is a seeking aspect to knowing God. It’s not that God is hiding from us, but He wants us to seek Him to know Him.
When you ask a teacher the definition of a word, what do they often say? “Look it up!” It’s not that they don’t know the definition, and it’s not that they are trying to torture you, but it’s that they know that if you learn to look up the definition, if you learn to fish instead of just being given fish all the time, it will benefit you in the long-run. The same is true with God…
And this is for non-Christians AND Christians as well!
In a healthy marriage, the husband and wife will continue to date each other after the wedding day—they will continue to intentionally pursue & get to know each other even AFTER they have said “I do” to each other. In earthly marriage, “I do” isn’t said only one-time but every day for the rest of our lives. The grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greener where we water it! Is your relationship/friendship with Jesus brown lately? Let’s water it! Let’s seek Him in ways we used to, or in ways we never have before!!!
- Jeremiah 29:13–God guarantees we will find Him if we truly seek Him!
- Jesus said, “Seek and you will find.”
- Jesus said, “Knock and the door will be answered.”
- Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive.”
- Jesus said, “How much more will the Father give the Holy Spirit (more of HIMSELF!?) to those who ask Him?”
God wants us to know Him Personally, and seeking Him is a HUGE part of knowing Him Personally, whether you are still trying to decide if you believe in Jesus or whether you have been fillowing Him for 50 years…we must seek Him: prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, prayer & Bible reading with others during the week, journaling, listening to Christian music, treating God as if He were a real Person (He is!) and as if He were really with you each moment of every day–all of these are ways that we seek God!
In a society that is all about “balance balance balance”, look at the beautiful extremes that the sick man’s friends went to to seek out Jesus—they cut a giant hole in the ceiling of someone’s house! I don’t think we need to do THAT to seek Jesus, but we will need to cut some of the good things out of our weekly schedules so that we have more time for the best thing of seeking after Jesus…
Video Song: “You Make Beautiful Things” (please click HERE)
This is a powerful song through which God has spoken to me many times over the years. Listen to what God is saying to you in light of this passage today…One of my favorite verses in the Bible is from the book of Revelation where Jesus says, “Behold, I am making all things NEW!” Jesus makes beautiful things out of the dust, out of our sin, out of the sins of others, out of our mess—will you let Him? He IS willing!!!