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Our Compassionate Savior

December 6, 2020

Teacher: Mike Noel
Scripture: Mark 1:40-2:12

Sermon Mark 1:40- 2:12

 

Introduction:

The phrase “desperate times call for desperate means” is on display for us today in our passage in Mark 1 and 2. In it we see two desperate men who are in dire straits coming to Jesus for help. We know from our own lives that we are often driven to God by trouble, by crisis and by desperation. Many of the Psalms were written by David or someone else who was desperate for God’s help. So let us read together their interaction with the Savior. 

(NASB): 40 And a man with leprosy *came to Jesus, imploring Him and kneeling down, and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out with His hand and touched him, and *said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. 43 And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, 44 and He *said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 45 But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere. Chapter 2: When Jesus came back to Capernaum a few days later, it was heard that He was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer space, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. 3 And some people *came, bringing to Him a man who was paralyzed, carried by four men. 4 And when they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and after digging an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralyzed man was lying. 5 And Jesus, seeing their faith, *said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and thinking it over in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins except God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were thinking that way within themselves, *said to them, “Why are you thinking about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He *said to the paralyzed man, 11 “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet, and go home.” 12 And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!

One man was a leper, an outcast of society and the other a man had to depend on others to transport him anywhere because he was paralyzed. Living with a physical disability in today’s culture can be a real trial and difficulty. Living in ancient times with a disability was even more challenging. Lack of medical care and rehab as well as employment opportunities plus the attitude of others towards the disabled especially during certain times made it extremely difficult to live life with a disability. Both of these men came to Jesus, hoping that they would find a cure to their disabilities. 

When the leper comes to the Lord, his desperation is clear. The passage tells us that  he was imploring Him and kneeling down before Him. I don’t think that he was kneeling down primarily out of worship but more so out of his desperate need. To be desperate means to have little or no hope. It has the perspective that everything is wrong and that nothing will improve.  He was a leper and his hope for any type of healing or normal life or even a life that wasn’t getting worse was almost extinguished. But recently there had been reports of a prophet like no other who had a healing ministry. 

And so he comes to Jesus  imploring our Savior “I know you are able and if you are willing you can make me clean." And then we hear Jesus saying to him these most wonderful words.

  I am willing. .. I am willing. This is good news of great joy (Christmas). And not just for this leper. If you could peer into the heavenlies during this encounter I think you would hear the angels saying the same thing they did on the night of our Savior's birth: Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased.” They are rejoicing that our God is willing!

And we should rejoice along with them that our glorious and most holy, awesome and just God is willing. He was willing not only to heal these men but even more to forgive their sins, to cleanse them from all unrighteousness, to enter into their lives and be their Savior and Lord. The kingdom was at hand and the king had come near to them. 

They found a willing Savior (not just a healer)! And what I want to direct our attention to in the text this morning is that he was not only willing but that he was moved with compassion and mercy. His willingness was rooted in his great love for us. And my prayer for us is that as we look at this passage we will be changed by this compassion, this love and become more like our Savior. 

In his commentary on Mark in The Bible Speaks Today Series Donald English tells us that there are two themes in the book of Mark (in general…). One is who Jesus is. And the other is how people should respond to him. So let us go to God in prayer, let us ask him to see Jesus clearly and to know how we ought to respond in faith to our willing Savior.   

Prayer

B. Out of Compassion He Is Willing To Make Us Clean: 

 

So what do we learn about this willing Savior as he interacts with these two men? 

1.  Out of Compassion He Is Willing To Make Us Clean 2. Out of Compassion He Teaches The Word  3. Out of Compassion He Forgives Our Sins

Now there are a number of similarities in Jesus’ encounter with both men and one of them is that he is interested in more than just healing them physically. Physical healing was the primary reason that the leper and the paralytic came to him, they were both in need of the healing power of Christ in their bodies.  And Jesus does heal both of them and this is wonderful. We can always rejoice when we hear a testimony of someone who had a long term sickness and receives healing - either directly as the result of prayer or through the common grace of medicine and surgery. 

If you want to draw a crowd then all you need to do is to have a healing ministry like Jesus where many people are receiving powerful physical healings. You don’t really need a PR campaign if this is happening (no church growth strategy). People will find you! Now you could joke that Jesus tries to use reverse psychology on those he heals. Throughout the gospels especially in the early part of his ministry Jesus warns and exhorts people not to tell anyone of their healing. And what do they do? Well we see an example in chapter 1 v 45 Jesus sternly warns him not to tell anyone of this healing   But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere. This was not what Jesus wanted. He didn’t want to have to be covert, keep hidden, constantly hounded by the general public. More importantly he wanted to quell any effort to make him an earthly king or political Messiah or just a healer or any effort that would keep him from his ultimate goal and mission of 1) preaching the coming of the kingdom of God and 2) going to Jerusalem and dying on the cross for his people to save from their sins.  

Jesus’ healing ministry came about to testify that he was the Messiah and the Son of God. It was part of the kingdom of God proclamation: Matthew 9

 Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. Matthew 9:35 

So it was part of the kingdom proclamation and confirmation that he was the Messiah.  But it also came about because he cared for the people and wanted them to be healed of their physical afflictions.  

But he was much more than just a healer of the sick in body. And I believe that we see this in his encounter with the leper. Now, though there could have been different types of skin disease that this man had, the fact that he was called a leper(most translations: Luke 5 describes him as full of leprosy) possibly or probably signified that he had Hensen’s disease:

 

Patients with leprosy experience disfigurement of the skin and bones, twisting of the limbs, and curling of the fingers to form the characteristic claw hand. Facial changes include thickening of the outer ear and collapsing of the nose.   From Answers In Genesis 

 

It not only was a terrible physical disease but it carried with it a stigma of one cursed by God:

In ancient Israel lepers were commanded to wear certain clothes, keep themselves a certain distance from people, wear special bells, and they had to cry "unclean unclean" if someone was too close (Lev 13:45). The rabbis viewed leprosy as a chastisement from God because of moral issues. Biblehistory.com

This man was a social outcast. Both Levitical law and social custom of the day kept him away from others and carried with it the stigma of being cursed and alienated from God.  This may explain why he said to Jesus “if you are willing”. If you’re willing to put your hand upon me and heal me. 

How glorious it must have been for him to hear Jesus tell him “I am willing”. I am the Savior of the world for everyone who comes to me. (a leper came to Jesus) 

Verse 41 it tells us that our Savior was moved with compassion (pity). Throughout the gospels we are told that Jesus was moved or motivated by compassion for others. And in many of the stories that he told compassion was the point of the story - either God’s compassion towards us or our call to show compassion to others. 

Now go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, rather than sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. Matthew 9:13 

Have you ever had a boss who could be described as a hard taskmaster or maybe some other description?  You knew that if you messed up and had to go to him it wasn’t going to be petty. His or her reaction to what you did would make it much worse. You would feel condemned and ashamed and a certain sense of guilt. You feel bad enough about messing up but now even worse because you have to admit it to this person who is over you. 

Aren’t you glad that our Father in heaven and his Son our Savior are not like that. They are merciful and full of compassion. Yes, we must confess our sins, repent of them but our God is full of compassion. He who is holy and just and perfect is also merciful. 

Our Savior was willing to minister to all sorts of people, to tax collectors and “sinners” and lepers - outcasts of society.  He was moved by compassion (pity) for them. I believe He felt their pain: why? He had experienced himself:

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:3

Hebrews tells us he is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He knew from experience the harsh realities of living in a fallen world with fallen people (and yet without sin). 

Our calling as God’s people includes showing compassion to others. We like him should be willing to touch people, to get involved in the messines of their lives knowing that He is willing to do so with us. (Commend Safe Families-They are an eg)

In compassion Jesus reached out and touched this leper and said be cleansed and immediately the leprosy left him. This was a demonstration of the healing power of Jesus. And we’re going to pray for people this morning in his name in his power. It was a demonstration of healing power but I think it was more than just that

Jesus had many encounters with different people so it does seem significant that Mark chose to include a leper coming to Jesus. Why did he choose to do so.? Does not the leper represent all of Adam’s offspring, who are unclean (dirty) marred by the effects of the fall, separated and alienated, even cursed by God. 

 

Christ’s miracles are called wonders-that is, deeds which, by their exceptional character, arrest attention and excite surprise. Further, they are called ‘mighty works’-that is, exhibitions of superhuman power. They are still further called ‘signs’-that is, tokens of His divine mission. But they are signs in another sense, being, as it were, parables as well as miracles, and representing on the lower plane of material things the effects of His working on men’s spirits. Thus, His feeding of the hungry speaks of His higher operation as the Bread of Life. His giving sight to the blind foreshadows His illumination of darkened minds. His healing of the diseased speaks of His restoration of sick souls. His stilling of the tempest tells of Him as the Peace-bringer for troubled hearts; and His raising of the dead proclaims Him as the Life-giver, who quickens with the true life all who believe on Him. MacLaren’s Expositions 

The work of Christ on our behalf on the cross makes us clean. He is willing to make us clean! This man was full of leprosy full of disease as are we. Our sin makes us vile and unclean and dirty and guilty and condemned. That is the effect of sin upon us. Jesus is willing to make us clean.

Isaiah 53 tells us how and why Christ can make us clean not only when we first come to him but on an ongoing basis. 

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken,     smitten by God, and afflicted. 5  But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53: 4-5 

He carried our sin and our shame and our dirtiness, our guilt to the cross and bore the penalty for it. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians that For our sake he made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

This being made clean by Christ alone, this doctrine of justification by faith alone to me is the sweetest truth in the Bible. It teaches us that he is willing. That God through Christ has done all that he needed to do to make us clean and to accept us. 

I got a new car recently and it has the feature of heated seats. 

The doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone is like that. It should warm our soul. Throughout the day we should be warmed by its love. For it tells us over and over again of God’s love and acceptance. And we must learn not to check the temperature gauge of our emotions or feelings of whether God loves us but the temperature gauge of God’s word, his objective truth.  

And what you will discover if you practice that spiritual discipline is that you will begin to subjectively feel his love. See when we build our lives on the objective truth of scripture (and we ingraft it into our hearts and minds) then we will experience the subjective joys of that truth. 

Oh what a refuge this is especially during difficult times, trying situations. We can draw near to God and amidst the turmoil of life experience peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 

And it also allows us to convey that acceptance of God to others, to all peoples. Are we moved by compassion for others? As God’s people we should be those who like our Savior are at ease around all people. Jesus reached out and put his hand on the leper and didn’t flinch.  We too should extend Christ’s acceptance and love to fellow lepers.   

C. (Out of Compassion He Taught Them The Word)

 

So what else do we learn about this willing Savior as he interacts with these two men?

We find that an integral part of his ministry was teaching the word of God. In John 1 he’s actually called the Word of God. And if you want to know him and follow him and grow in him then you must be a person of the word. We find this willing compassionate Savior in the word of God.

Look at Jesus’ interaction with the leper. After he healed him in verse 44 he instructed the healed man: “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” He directs him to the book of Leviticus:

“This shall be the law of the leprous person for the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest, 3 and the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall look. Then, if the case of leprous disease is healed in the leprous person... Leviticus 14:2

Jesus knew the word of God and he regularly taught the word of God. In the first 14 chapters of Mark he is recorded as teaching or preaching the word either to the crowds following him or instructing his disciples privately (even in c14 at the Mount of Olives) or sending the disciples out to preach or (C7) reproving the Pharisees for teaching as doctrine the traditions of men - as if it were the word of God

In Mark 10:1 it tells us And again, as was his custom, he taught them.

We see that in our text in chapter 2. After he heals the leper he returns to Capernaum and the word gets out that he is at home (Peter’s house?). And so the word spreads like wildfire and suddenly as it says in v2 many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching (speaking) the word to them. (Maybe he planned to heal afterwards…)

If you are not a Christian and you want to know what is expected of you, begin to read the New Testament and you will find out. You are not saved by following his commands (salvation comes by trusting Christ and his work on the cross alone) but you are called to follow him and specifically to follow him as scripture explicitly instructs us to. (evidence that you are)

But what we find in God’s word is not just his commands but his wisdom, his grace, his love, the revelation of who he is. 

Yes Jesus had a powerful healing ministry but his ministry was much more than that. He came declaring the kingdom of God was at hand. This kingdom had up to this point been primarily focused on the nation of Israel. But now it was being linked to all who came to him in repentance and faith. 

As you read the gospels you observe Jesus giving very specific instruction as to what it meant to live in this kingdom. In a nutshell it involved living under the rule of the King and that was found in his word. Yes he was compassionate but he was also the King; he is a compassionate King. And this compassion can be seen in the fact that a lot of his ministry was expressed in his teaching the people. In Mark 6:34 we read:

As Jesus came ashore he saw the large crowd and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he taught them many things. Mark 6:34

Jesus showed his love and compassion by teaching them. How many trials and heartaches and angst and stress and confusion we would avoid if we would spend more time in the word; allowing it to instruct us, strengthen us, reprove us, comfort us and reveal Christ to us. In God’s written word we find the Living Word who is Christ - our willing, compassionate Savior meets us there

Colossians 3 exhorts us to  Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. We can miss out on the shepherding ministry of our Savior when we avoid his word. Jesus speaking of Jerusalem How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. You were not willing. 

Come to God’s word looking for the embrace and fellowship of our compassionate and merciful King and you will find him there. 

 

D. Out of Compassion He Forgave Their Sins 

In the description of Jesus’ encounter with the paralytic we find some very resourceful friends or family members. There were four men carrying him in and when they see the house is completely surrounded by people they get creative!

They presumably went up the steps to the roof and then removed the roof and made an opening and then lowered the man down into the house. It may have been that they removed an awning that many houses used to protect it from the weather. Then they made an opening in the roof. Regardless of the details they were intent on getting their friend to Jesus for healing.

Mark makes two interesting and surprising comments about Jesus’ response to their actions. One that Jesus notices their faith through their actions and secondly that he tells the paralytic his sins are forgiven. 

Because of time we can’t discuss in detail the comment about their faith. I do think it is important to mention that throughout the gospels the Lord praises and commends those who exhibit faith and reproves those who aren’t doing so. In Matthew 8 in the story of the Centurion who wants Jesus to heal his servant the Lord remarks about the Centurion's faith: He was amazed and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. 

Here in our story, Mark tells us that Jesus saw their faith. He saw their faith through their actions. And in whatever area that we seek to trust God in we should look for ways to act upon that faith. The inward spirit  of faith should affect our attitude and our actions. Paul in 2 Corinthians speaking of the spirit of faith says I believed and so I spoke. That needs to be combined with wisdom and humility but nonetheless faith calls for an active response.  

Faith is one of the ways we connect with God.  Do not confuse loving the doctrine of the sovereignty of God with passive acceptance of all things. God rules over all things and as King and sovereign ruler he sometimes calls us to move with our faith (little).  And for those who come forward for prayer this morning let us (both) seek to exercise faith in God, trust in God and in his promises. It’s encouraging that in the encounter with the leper Jesus seems to go even beyond his faith. 

I do think though that the main point of this encounter with the paralytic is that Jesus as the Son of God (Son of Man) has authority to forgive sins. (Who is Jesus)

Once the paralytic was lowered, Jesus says to him son your sins are forgiven. One wonders why he would say that to a man who obviously is there to be healed. It may have been similar to the leper that he was tempted to incorrectly interpret his disability with not being right with God. Or that in a good sense it made him more aware of his need for forgiveness. 

Or it could have been that Jesus was emphasizing that the most important need that he and any of us have was not healing but forgiveness - and that he had the divine authority to forgive sins. This seems to be the point of his little confrontation with the scribes who were there. They thought in their heart that he being a man was committing blasphemy by declaring the paralytic’s sins to be forgiven. (Note: we should be aware of your judgmental thoughts, for God is aware of them -Ps 139 he discerns our thoughts from afar. And just as he reprove the scribes…)

 The scribes were right in part of their thinking. Only God can forgive sins. Jesus was declaring who he was. He tells us this in verse 10 “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”. Our Savior never shied away from acknowledging he was the divine Son of God. Not just a prophet, or just a healer or teacher. No he was God come in the flesh and he had authority to forgive sins both by who he was, God the Son and what he would do at Calvary on the cross. He was the lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world. 

Mark 7 the p said of Jesus he has done all things well… 

In closing I want to encourage us concerning the blessing of forgiveness. 

 Ezra our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens

 

God made (us) alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Colossian 1:13-14  

 

In compassion Jesus offers us forgiveness of sins. May we never lose the wonder of this most fundamental blessing of God. Apart from it we don’t have any of the other...

Psalm 32: Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2  Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity.

If you are a Christian, one who has had their sins forgiven you are truly blessed of God. Let us live in the joy and peace that flows from that.

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