A Disease Only Christ Can Cure

Bible Book: Luke  5 : 12-16
Subject: Salvation; Jesus, Compassion of; Jesus, Power of; Leprosy

When Jesus performed miracles, He was not only revealing divine power and divine love, but He was also presenting truth that went far deeper than the actual miracle itself. For example, when Jesus opened the eyes of a blind man, He was also revealing that the sinner is blind and lost until he is touched by the Master’s hand. All of us were once blind to our condition, but Jesus opened our eyes so that we might respond to His gift of salvation. There is a likelihood that someone in this service today is blind to your need of the forgiveness and grace that Christ offers you. No, I didn’t say blind to religion! There is a great difference in religion and trusting Jesus. The same Savior that opened the eyes of the blind in biblical days is here today and He can touch you and open your eyes if you will allow Him to do so.

Today we turn to Luke 5:12-16 and we look at the story of a leper who was doomed to an awful, painful, lonely death, until He met Jesus. This man was diseased throughout his body and there was no hope for him outside a divine miracle. He came in faith to Jesus and He was gloriously healed. The miracle performed by Jesus that day is far greater than merely removing disease from a man's body. The miracle of removing the leprosy is symbolic of the removal of sin from the heart of life of an individual. Be assured that sin is like a disease that only one Doctor can cure - and that is the Great Physician - Jesus!

Every one of us who is saved today was spiritually diseased and hopeless until Jesus came our way. The Father in heaven wooed us to Him and when we came in faith and repentance He made us whole. Let’s look at this story today and see the love, power and grace of Christ in a fresh way.

Look at Luke 5:12-16 as I read:

And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.” 15 However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. 16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

In biblical times leprosy was symbolic of sin. That does not mean that the person with leprosy was more sinful than the person without leprosy; but it simply meant that the disease was a perfect symbol of sin’s effect. You see, leprosy works from the inside of a person but in doing so it corrupts the entire being. If a person had leprosy, it meant a terrible separation from the community and a horrifying death in the end. So this disease is a perfect example of what it means for a person to be living in sin. And, be sure, every person without Christ is still in his or her sin, for He alone can forgive and cleanse the human soul. So, the cleansing of the leper by our Lord in our text today reveals the grace, the love and the power of Christ that removed from the poor man a disease that was daily robbing him of a meaningful existence.

I. The Dilemma of the Leper

Look at verse 12. The writer of our text today was Luke, who was himself a physician, and in his writing of this text he uses special terminology to discuss the case. This miracle no doubt fascinated Luke, since as a physician he knew that without a miracle there was no cure at that time for this horrible disease.

I am reminded today of a young doctor had just received his degree. He opened his office and on his first day a man came in who was ill. The new doctor did not know what it was that the patient had but he didn’t want to admit his ignorance of the situation. He looked at the man and said, “Have you ever had this before?” The man said, “Yes.” The young doctor said, “Well, you’ve got it again.”

Sometimes a doctor may not know what to do for us, especially if the condition is so bad that there seems to be no answer, but Dr. Jesus, the Great Physician, was never in such a quandary during any diagnosis. Dr. Luke was amazed by the Master’s ability to deal with an illness that seemed so hopeless. So Luke describes for us the horrible condition of the man in our story. I want you to think of this man’s condition and do so in terms of any person who is still in his sins today. There is an unseen leprosy in all human beings - it is the disease of sin, and unless it is removed, the diseased soul is doomed.

A. He Was Saturated with the Disease

The Scripture says he was “covered” with leprosy, and the word “covered” comes from a very special Greek word. The word means to be “full of.” To see the significance of this look at Luke 4:1, which reads, “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” (KJV) The poor man in our text in Luke 5 was as full of leprosy as Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. Look again in John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (KJV) As full as Jesus was of grace and truth, the man in our text today was full of leprosy. My point is that the leprosy was not just on him - covering him - but was in him - permeating his very being from head to toe – every part of him. He did not just have the disease, the disease had him! He was diseased from the top of his head to the soles of his feet - from the smallest cell in him to the largest skin cell on him.

We need to remember that all disease began with sin. There was no sin in the Garden of Eden, but there has not been a time without disease on the heart since Adam and Eve fell into sin the Garden. Now, let's be sure that we understand one important thing about illness. People are not sick in direct proportion to their sin. Once disease was released in the human body it ran in rampant and random form over the earth. A very sinful man may be quite well, and a great godly person may be very ill. Once disease began, it ran wherever it desired and mutated along the way.

It is believed that the Israelites contracted leprosy while they were in Egypt and Egypt is a Bible symbol of bondage. Leprosy is a symbol of sin in the Bible, and sin is denoted in scripture as having the sinner bound in irons and chains. Without Christ, we are slaves to sin. We are sick with sin.

The man in our story today did not have leprosy because he was more sinful than any other man, but his disease pictures for us the horrible indwelling of sin in all of us before Christ comes to cleanse us. In essence, the entire human race is infected with the disease that Adam and Eve walked out of the Garden carrying – the disease of sin.

Now look more closely at this man. With leprosy, a person hair fell out – not just from his head, but from his entire body. He had no eyebrows or eyelashes! Then spots appeared on the leper, and they created scales and sores. The fingernails of the leper fell of and the fingers and toes shriveled up. The eyes were eventually consumed with the disease, as were the nose, the ears and the tongue. A man with leprosy was literally a walking sore. The odor would be so great that you anyone nearby could taste it your mouth. His was a body of rotting flesh. The final attack took place upon the vital organs.

In Leviticus 13 we have a description of leprosy. Look at it. Sin is just like leprosy, it begins within. The spot that first revealed itself was merely an outward revelation of an inward condition. Sin is something on the inside and thus one cannot put any medication or treatment on the outside of the body will eliminate the problem. Just as the leper had an outward representation of an inward problem, so sin is an inward malady that reveals itself in outward behavior.

In our world today there is much being done to address the immoral and criminal behavior of human beings. Sadly, without Jesus Christ to work in the soul of the individual, all the work being done on the outside will prove fruitless. Isn't it interesting that we have conquered the skies, even so much that we can fly space vehicles to the moon and around Mars. We have created a digital world so that we can communicate seamlessly with people all over the world. Yet, we cannot find a way to stop people from acting in ways that destroys themselves and others. Our schools are not safe - even in middle schools children are hurting each other and occasionally someone is killed. In high schools bullying that reached a stage that causes some teens to take their own lives. Fights break out in our high schools across America everyday. Teachers are being reported as having sex with underage students, drugs are being sold and used, guns are being carried and almost every vice one can think of takes place in our schools everyday. Computer science, medical advancements, digital communications, space adventures, undersea investigations, and many other modern wonders are great, but they have no power to change the human heart. Only Jesus can cure the disease that is ravaging our generation.

You remember David, the man after God's own heart? Well, you also remember the terrible sins he committed. In David’s life sin began with a look, then advanced to lust, then to taking a man's wife, then to a lie and ended when he took a life! How simple sin seems to be in the beginning, but once it begins its inward work it will manifest itself in an outward and deadly manner.

The man who steals millions of dollars from innocent investors did not begin his evil deed the day he opened his business. It began in his heart when he entered this world. Even as a lad he lied to his parents as a boy. When in school he stole a pencil from a friend. In the end, he ruined the lives of people trusted him with their life's savings. His sin seemed like childish play in the beginning, but sin is ugly, odorous and awful once it reaches the mature stage and reveals itself like leprosy.

B. He was Separated by the Disease

A leper was not to touch anyone – not even his wife, children or family. The leper was required to remain 100 cubits away from anyone downwind of him, and 4 cubits away from anyone upwind. Imagine going into any public place and having to shout, “Leper, stay away, leper.” How worthless you would feel. How desperate your condition would be. That is what leper’s were required to do if anyone got near them.

The separation of the leper was also included the House of God. He was not allowed to worship with God’s people.

You see, leprosy symbolizes what sin does to our soul. It separates us from God, and eventually it will separate the sinner from family and leave the eternal soul in outer darkness. The leprosy must be removed before one can enter into God’s presence and service, and no mere man can cure this disease.

C. He Was Sentenced by the Disease

The end of leprosy was death. Only a miracle could deliver one from this awful disease. Dear friend, that is the way it is with sin. Sin sentences you to death and eternal loneliness - only a divine miracle can cure this disease!

II.  The Devotion of the Leper

When the leper head that Jesus was nearby he came to Him and fell down to worship Him. Now, what caused the leper to love and trust Jesus so much? No doubt the leper had heard many wonderful things about Jesus and that caused Him to obtain a spark of faith to trust the Lord. The Bible states that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. How do you trust Jesus to heal you of sin and death? You must heed God’s Word. You must open the ears of your heat and hear Him speaking to you. You must have in your heart a devotion that is responding to His devotion to you. You see, we don't find Jesus - He finds us. He leper heard about the Lord, otherwise there is no way he would have come to the Lord. If you listen, you can hear Him calling you to a place of healing, forgiveness and life. You can love Him who first loved you.

A. See the Leper’s Humility

Note how he came to Jesus - on his knees - what devotion he showed to the Master. No one can come to Christ unless he or she at first has humility. No pride is accepted in the presence of the Lord, and sadly this is what keeps so many from trusting the Lord. So many die in their sins because they are too proud to come in humility to trust in Christ. This leper threw aside his pride and found healing, peace, purpose and life through in the Savior.

B. See the Leper’s Honesty

He knew he had a problem and he admitted it. There was no need for him to attempt to hide it. After all, his rotting flesh was apparent to everyone. Dear friend, if you think that people will wonder what evil you have done if you come to Christ, you are wrong. Everyone knows you are evil. We know that because we ourselves are evil. Throw yourself honestly at His feet.

C. See His Hesitancy

This man said, “If you desire too, Lord, you can make me well.” There is a hesitancy on his part. Two things cause people to hesitate to come to Jesus. One, they feel they do not need cleansing. Two, they know they need to be cleansed, but they feel unworthy of His love. The latter of the two errors was committed by the leper. Perhaps he had been absent of any real love for so long that he felt no one could really love him. He wasn’t sure that Jesus desired to cleanse him, even though he knew Jesus was capable of cleansing him.

There could be someone here today who feels that you cannot come to Jesus because you are so unworthy. O friend, how foolish! Jesus died on the cross just for you! He saved me, and I was unworthy! If you are waiting to be worthy, you will die in your sins.

What faith the leper expressed! What trust he revealed in Jesus! The only weakness in his faith was that he doubted whether Jesus was willing to change him. You may feel like this man. You may feel that you are not worthy to be saved or blessed. The cross where He died proves H is willing to cleanse you if you are willing to repent and trust Him.

III. The Deliverance of the Leper

Some people ask me if I believe in healing. Of course I do! Not only do I believe it, I have experienced it. Dr. Johnny Hunt used to pastor in North Carolina, down near the coast. I pastored near the mountains in the same state. He asked me to preach for him in a special evangelistic service on a Wednesday night and I really felt it was God’s will for me to accept the request. The day I was to leave on the airplane for Wilmington, North Carolina, I woke up with a terrible sore throat. I could hardly speak a single word. As the day progressed, rather than getting better, I got worse, and by the time I was to drive to the airport to catch the plane, my best voice was a mere whisper.

My wife Jayne asked, “What are you going to do, you can’t even be understood with your voice like that? Besides, you are sick and don’t need to travel.”

I responded by saying that I felt God led me to take the opportunity and I was going to go forward with it. I traveled to Wilmington and Johnny picked me up at the airport. When he heard my voice, he nearly fainted. “Mike,” he asked, “what is wrong with you?” I explained the situation and asked him to pray. One hour before the service I still could hardly speak. Johnny had things to take care of for the service so I stayed in his study and spent time praying and preparing to preach. Ten minutes before the service he came back into the study to pray with me before we into the worship service. Ladies and gentlemen, when he entered the room and I opened my mouth to speak, my voice was a clear as it is right now! I even shocked myself when I spoke. Johnny said, “I am not surprised; I believed God was in this all the time.” That night five precious people gave their lives to Christ during the invitation. Remember, this was a Wednesday night! Many other decisions were made. We rejoiced in the Lord at what He had done. When I flew home the next morning, my voice once again scratchy and hoarse. Yes, I believe in the healing power of Jesus. But let me tell you something very important – the greatest healing Jesus ever did in my life is when He took the leprosy of my sin upon Himself at Calvary and gave me His pure, holy life. No miracle will ever exceed that one!

A. The Compassion of Jesus

In Mark’s account of this miracle, we are told of Jesus’ compassion, and His compassion is so amazing that it cannot truly be described. The Bible records numerous times when Jesus was moved with compassion because of the terrible state of the people to whom He ministered. We see the compassion and love of Jesus in the way he treated the poor, sinful and sick people He came in contact with. One thing that denotes His love in a personal way is the fact that he often reached out to touch people.

When Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, He touched her.
When Jesus raised Jairus'’s daughter from the dead, He touched her.
When the little children came to Him, Jesus touched them and took them up in His arms and blessed them.
More than once it says in the Scriptures that Jesus laid His hand upon the sick and healed them.

Was this touching necessary for healing to take place? No! We know that because there were times that He healed without a touch. No, the touch was a sign of His love and compassion. Imagine this poor leper. He probably had not felt a tender touch from a smooth, healthy hand in many years. The touch of Jesus was profound to this poor man!

“When a man ain’t got a cent

And is feeling kind of blue,

And the clouds hang low and heavy,

And won’t let the sunshine through,

It is a great thing, O my brethren,

For a fellow just to lay

His hand upon your shoulder,

In a friendly sort of way.

“It makes a man feel curious,

And it makes the teardrops start,

And you sorter feel a flutter,

In the region of the heart,

And you can’t look him in the eye,

And you don’t know what to say,

When his hand is on your shoulder,

In a friendly sort of way.

“Oh, the world’s a curious compound,

With it honey and its gall,

With its cares and bitter crosses,

But a good world after all;

And a good God must have made it,

Leastwise, that is what I say,

When HIS hand is on my shoulder,

In a friendly sort of way.” (Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

There is a lesson here we must remember. Compassion means to suffer with the lost. We can never win our world while sitting in our beautiful churches. We cannot touch people the way Jesus did, but we can show our love and help open the door of human hearts so they are willing to allow the Lord of glory to touch them!

B. The Commandment of Jesus

In Leviticus the Leper was ordered to follow a ritual once he knew he was cleansed of the disease. The leper was to present himself to the priest, who was to go out and look upon the man and declare him clean. Jesus told the man He healed to go and present himself to the priest. This act was to convince the community that the man who was a leper was indeed completely free of the disease. This also allowed the healed man to appreciate the miracle of cleansing provided by the Lord.

It is interesting that everyone Jesus called to trust Him and follow Him was done in public. There are no secret believers in the Lord! That is why we give an invitation in our church ask you to come the way everyone in the Bible came to Jesus - publicly. After all, what person truly healed of a deadly disease hesitates to tell the world about it? When a person trust Christ, and the sin that brings death has been removed, the recipient of that inward healing will gladly make it known in an outward act of testimony.


There is someone here today, in this very service, that is in need of cleansing from sin. You have never trusted Christ but you know that you need to do so. Come to Him! He is calling you and He has the power to remove your guilt and to grant you eternal life.

Yes, and there are some of us who have been cleansed for a long time, but it is easy for us to forget how wonderful our salvation really is. We can become proud of our Christian lives and forget that without Him and His touch, we were doomed with the disease of sin.

“Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?

There’s power in the blood, power in the blood!

Sin stains are lost in its life giving flow,

There’s wonderful power in the blood.”

Now let us respond as the Lord Himself leads us.