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Friday, March 12, 2010

Luke 5:12-16, A Bible Study Devotion. “Come first, Clean up second…”

Luke 5:12-16, A Bible Study Devotion. “Come first, Clean up second…”

Read Luke 5:12-16

Anyone who has tried to share their faith has undoubtedly come across this excuse, “I need to get my act together, then I can start to look into God or Jesus or whatever.” You may know some people who believe that God would not accept them after what they have done. What do you say then? What else? Refer them to scripture. Look at these verses.

At this time in Jewish culture, a man who had leprosy was like a walking dead man. There was no cure. There was no hope. It ate away at your flesh, your organs, and your mind. You were not allowed to be in contact with people. You were not allowed to be with family, or your wife, or your children. In fact, you had to shout out in public places, “unclean, unclean,” so people would know to avoid you. A person with leprosy was “unclean” in the eyes of society. A person with sin is “unclean” in the eyes of God. Just like leprosy ate away at you slowly and infested your whole body, sin eats away at your soul and infests your whole spirit. Leprosy bans you from society, sin bans you from Heaven.

Fortunately, Jesus can “clean” both. Look at what the man says, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” There are a few implications we can make from the wording of this: One, he says Lord. This may indicate that he was claiming Jesus as Lord, God, or Messiah. We are not sure, because the term “Lord” could have been used like we use “mister.” However, it clearly indicates that he had belief that Jesus could heal him, pointing to faith. He also says, “…if you are willing...” This phrasing indicates that he had a humble heart. He did not demand anything from Jesus. He did not assume that he was entitled to healing or salvation from Jesus. He knew that there was good work he could do to gain favor. He dropped to the ground and begged Jesus to make him clean. He understood that only God can “clean us up.”

What did Jesus do in response? He reached out and touched the man. If there was a crowd there, you would have heard a huge collective gasp. “Did you see that? Jesus just touched a man with leprosy!” Jesus committed the worst societal blunder one could make. Then he said, “I am willing, be clean!” This is important for those people I described in the opening paragraph. Jesus did not say, “go take a shower, do some sacrificing, walk on the straight and narrow for a few years, and then come back and I’ll see what I can do.” He also did not say, “Go help some ladies cross the street, volunteer at the soup kitchen, and pay back the IRS some ‘lost’ tax money.” He did not require the man to “clean up.” He did not require the man to do some good deeds to offset his sin. Because of course Jesus knows that there is nothing we can do to clean our soul of sin. Only he can make us right with God. Only his sacrifice in our place can make you acceptable to God.

The next time someone says they want to “clean up” before they think about their eternal future, point them to this passage. If you or someone you know thinks that God could not forgive them for what they have done, point them to this passage. You are not more un-clean than a man with leprosy in Bible times…
Written by Chris Vasecka

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