Jesus, the Perfect Healer

While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy.
—–Luke 5:12

Almost all of us are either facing an illness or know somebody we care about deeply who is facing sickness. How are we to respond when illness comes into our lives?

Let’s look at Jesus’s encounter with a leper in Luke 5. “While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy” (v. 12). Today leprosy is known as Hansen’s disease. It was named after Gerhard Hansen, a doctor who discovered that the disease of leprosy is a nerve disorder. We tend to think that leprosy causes the disfigurement and the loss of limbs that we see in its victims. That’s not true. Leprosy is the destruction of people’s nerve endings so that they are no longer able to feel pain. Do you realize your ability to feel pain is a gift from God? God gives us the ability to feel pain to warn us when something is wrong. But the leper has no ability to feel pain; so he might reach into a fire to retrieve a potato, not realizing that the fire is searing his skin. Or he might step on a nail, not realize the nail is in his foot, and continue to walk and further damage his foot. Most of the disfigurement caused by leprosy is the result of not being able to feel pain.

Leprosy is a real disease; but in the Bible, it is also a picture of sin. There are four ways that leprosy is like sin. First, like leprosy, sin starts very small. Sometimes you can’t know a person has leprosy until it has spread rapidly into a full-blown case. It’s the same way with sin. Sin always starts small, but if left unchecked and untreated in your life, it will grow and grow and grow. Second, like leprosy, sin is hideous when it’s seen for what it really is. Today we mock the hideous aspects of sin; we cover it over. Proverbs 14:9 says only a fool mocks sin, because when you see its destructive power, sin is nothing to laugh at. Third, like leprosy, sin contaminates everyone and everything it comes into contact with. It spreads and destroys everything it touches. And fourth, like leprosy in biblical times, sin is incurable. In biblical times, there was no cure for leprosy. And the same is true about sin. You cannot heal yourself of sin. Interestingly, in Isaiah 64:6, God said that in His sight, “our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” That word “filthy garment” in Hebrew describes the cloth a leper would use to wrap his oozing wounds. It would be filled with putrification. And Isaiah said that the best things we can do for God–all our good works–are like that filthy, disgusting leper’s rag. We are incapable of cleaning up our lives and curing ourselves of sin.

In Luke 5, this man was distressed by the disease of leprosy. His disease made him not only physically unclean but also ceremonially unclean. And because of that he was exiled from the community. He had to live outside of the camp in a leper colony. His only hope was Jesus, the perfect healer.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Jesus, the Perfect Healer” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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