Jesus has just finished the Sermon on the Mount, having taught a crowd of His disciples. Now, there is a larger crowd waiting for him at the foot of the mountain.
Leprosy was a terrible disease in Bible times, and continues to be a horrible affliction in modern days. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Leprosy, which is now called "Hansen's Disease," is an incurable, chronic, infectious disease. In the world today, between one and two million people are permanently disabled from it. And although antibiotics can arrest the active infection, there is still no cure. Leprosy is spread from person to person by respiratory droplets, so anyone who comes in close contact with a leper is at serious risk of infection.
What is interesting is that although mankind's knowledge of germs, bacteria, microbes, and molecules is very recent, the book of Leviticus - written over 3,400 years ago - spends two entire chapters (13 & 14) instructing the priests how to diagnose and quarantine leprosy, as well as how to prevent its spread to others. It says that someone diagnosed with leprosy had to cover his mouth and cry out, "Unclean, unclean!" (Lev. 13:45-46). He was to live alone, with his dwelling place being far away from other people.
In spite of the Law, this leper approaches Jesus in the midst of these large crowds. And worse yet - Jesus touched him!
You know what this tells me? Jesus isn't afraid of your sin. It tells me that your affliction is not going to prevent His touch. How many people wait to be clean before they approach the Lord? Instead, they need to approach Him because they are unclean.
Jesus healed the man, and sent him to the priests. You see, although leprosy was incurable, God had placed in the Law a ceremony to perform for the leper in the day of his cleansing. These priests had never used it before - they would have had to brush up on their reading when this guy showed up!
Now a Roman officer - a centurion - approaches Jesus. This is a guy whose position put him in command of a hundred soldiers. And yet, in spite of his high rank, the difficulties of life and death affect him just as well. We often are guilty of thinking, "If I could just make this much money, if I could just attain that much authority, then my troubles would be over." Not so. Death and sickness attack all human beings, regardless of their income or authority.
The centurion begged Jesus to heal his servant, who was bedridden, paralyzed, and "fearfully tormented."
This centurion recognized that in the same way he could command armies, Jesus could command this sickness. It is "great faith" to know that God is the final authority over all things.
Jesus took the opportunity to not only heal the servant, but to make the commentary that it's not enough to be part of the "right religion." It is about faith in Him. It doesn't matter if someone says, "I'm a devout Jew. I'm a staunch Catholic. I'm a prayerful Muslim. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Baptist." It's not about the label, because even the "Sons of the Kingdom" will be cast into the outer darkness if they do not have faith in Jesus Christ. He said,
John 14:6 ..."I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."
This third incidence of healing was a relative of Simon Peter. Many people don't realize that Peter had a mother-in-law. That means he was married. And in case we miss the point, Paul points this out to the Corinthian church (1Cor 9:5) as well.
Today, the Pope sits on the throne of St. Peter, who, according to Catholic doctrine, was the first Pope. Yet unlike Peter, his church's doctrine mandates that he is not to be married. This is not according to the command of God, but the rules of man instituted which began about 250 years after Peter lived and were enforced universally over a thousand years later.
Peter's mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever. When Jesus saw this, He touched her hand and healed her. What was the result of her being healed? She served Him. She waited on the Lord.
Has Jesus touched you? Healed the sickness of sin in your life? Has your response been the same as Peter's mother-in-law? Or have you just responded by saying, "Okay, Lord, what else are you going to do for me now?"
The crowds were being healed by Jesus. It didn't matter what the sickness or affliction was. Whether it was a disease or a demon, Jesus had complete power to bring deliverance.
I want you to notice from reading these accounts that there is no magic formula for healing: There was a Jew and a Gentile. There was the mother-in-law of a friend and nameless crowds of anonymous people. There was the leper who asked, the centurion who asked for someone else. There was Jesus who came to the mother-in-law, and the crowds who came to Jesus.
There is no special ingredient, no set prayer, no common method. The power was not in what people did or didn't do, what they said or didn't say. The power is in Jesus, not in our formula.
Jesus has the ability to heal any infirmity at will. A couple of years ago, many of you walked with me through an affliction that was devastating me emotionally: a paralyzed vocal chord. There was no cure. And yet the Lord was willing to heal me. In an instant, I was restored. My doctor has the CAT scans and the MRIs taken just a couple of weeks previously, clearly showing my condition. But suddenly I was healed with no possible earthly explanation.
Jesus can heal your physical infirmity, if He is willing. But even more important than that is His ability to heal your disease of sin and separation from Him, if you are willing.
Are you willing to come after Jesus for that healing? Before you say yes, it is important to read the next few verses...
Jesus and His group were about to leave to the other side of the sea, and a scribe said, "I'll go with you." But Jesus told him to count the cost. It's not an easy ride. "We're not going to be staying at the Marriott. You'd better know the conditions before you commit." He said,
Luke 14:28 "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?"
You'd better know what you're in for before you decide to follow.
Someone else asked if he could wait. "My dad's going to die in a few years, and I'll get the inheritance. Then I'll be financially free to follow." But Jesus says that the time is now. The concerns of this world should belong to the world. Stop making excuses for your procrastinating.