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Touching the Untouchable

February 11, 2018 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series: Luke

Topic: Gods Love Verse: Luke 5:12–5:16

“Touching the Untouchable”

Luke 5:12-16 

Theme: Any sinner has hope for cleansing if they will come to Jesus Christ in faith. 

I. Jesus Stirs Hope in the Unpardonable – 5:12


  • Luke furthers the story of Jesus’ power and glory by relating a story about a man who was as unclean as a person could
    be in the 1st Century – “While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy ...” 
  • We are not told where this story occurred, only that it “was in one of the cities” – meaning that it is to viewed as a typical story among hundreds like it. 
  • We are introduced to a nameless leper – a man who was ostracized from society because of what was commonly thought to be a judgment of God upon this man for his personal wickedness. 
  • Leprosy was a disease that carried horrible social and physical consequences – both the banishment from society and decay to the body. 
  • In every way, a leper was an outcast – beyond the hope of help from the Pharisees that merely intensified the ostracism; from the priests that sustained the biblical responsibility to enforce the standards of the Scriptures – cp. Leviticus 13:45-46 
  • He was barred from both the Temple and the synagogues – without hope and without friend
  • Perhaps this leper had stood the required distance and strained to hear what Jesus had been teaching and heard such heart stirring truths as: 
  1. Matthew 5:3-4 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted!”
  2. Matthew 5:42 – “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”
  3. Matthew 5:46-47 – “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
  4. Matthew 7:7-8 – “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
  5. Matthew 7:24 – “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock ...”
  • So, in defiance to the social stigmas and obstacles, the leper cried “unclean, unclean” and watched as everyone fled from him and came to Jesus.
  • Leprosy is commonly compared to the problem of sin – the ravages to the body and the vile, putrid affects on the body reflect the vile hold that sin has on our souls.


  • There is an element of surprise contained in this story – seen by means of the word “behold” 
  • This leper startled everyone as we are told that the “leper came to Him ...” – something that was forbidden – Matthew 8:2. 
  • Perhaps the “leper” had been yelling “unclean, unclean” as he approached Jesus, but one thing is certain – people scattered to avoid this man as he boldly made his way to Jesus. 
  • He was unconcerned about the social stigma, reprimands that would have been shouted at him as he approached, or the hostility that he faced as those around him must have “rebuked” him for his lack of propriety in approaching Jesus. 
  • Luke says that “when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him ...” 
  • His behavior of humbling himself before Jesus demonstrates that this man understood the divine character of Jesus – and came to him as a man who recognized the hopelessness of his situation independent of whatever grace that Jesus would bestow on Him. 
  • He had been completely hopeless as he had to watch the leprosy spread, claiming more and more of his body – but, in the face of Jesus, his hope was kindled and in desperation He expresses hope – “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” 
  • This is this man’s one hope – he was begging Jesus to help him – a sinful outcast, miserable as one could be, without any options – seeing cleansing as more needed that merely healing. 
  • His humility is seen in his acknowledging that there is nothing inherent that would compel Jesus to be gracious to Him, but was confident that Jesus could do something if He wished. 
  • This is exactly the way sinners approach Jesus – without any sense of worthiness or deserving – casting themselves upon the mercy of Jesus alone. 


•What causes a person to consider his sin so great that it can’t be forgiven?

•Do you ever question Jesus’ willingness to show you grace?

•What significance is there to the man asking to be cleansed and not merely healed?

II. Jesus Supplies Healing to the Untouchable – 5:13-14


  • Jesus was clearly touched by this man’s humble call for mercy and cleansing – “And He stretched out His hand and touched him ...”
  • As noted earlier in this chapter, Jesus touching those He healed demonstrates His tenderness and personal interaction with those to whom He shows mercy.
  • To do so here goes far beyond anything Jesus had done as yet as this man was an untouchable – a leper who to touch would be to become unclean and perhaps “catch” the disease. 
  • This leper hadn’t been touched since he’d become a leper – no hand on the shoulder, to hand to hold, no shoulder to cry on, no pat of assurance, not embrace or hug; to be now touched must have sent a current of emotion through his body 
  • He then declares “I am willing; be cleansed” – a demonstration of the heart of Jesus to forgive sinners for the awful things that they have done. 
  • The divine love that Jesus possesses for the man together with the divine power applied to the glory of God resulted in immediate, complete, and unmistakable healing – “And immediately the leprosy left him.” 
  • This disappearance of the white scaly skin and the oozing sores vanishing would have caused incredulity and shock among those who observed this magnificent miracle. 


  • There are stringent requirements for lepers in those rare occasions when they overcome their illness – according to the law, the regimen was specific – cp. Leviticus 14:1-32, 
  • The process given by Moses was detailed and lengthy – taking eight days – Leviticus 14:10 
  • It seems that Jesus did not want to allow unnecessary tension to develop between Him and the religious authorities and therefore “ordered him to tell no one, ‘But go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for you cleansing, just as Moses commanded ...’” 
  • The responsibility to obey the Law remained as Christ Jesus had not yet fulfilled all of the Law – and therefore, Jesus sustained righteousness by instructing this man to keep the Law and show gratitude to God through “an offering.” 
  • Jesus’ priority was to be completely yielded to the authentic application of the Law, while refusing to cooperate with the legalistic layers of traditions that the Pharisees had added to the Law. 
  • The reason that Jesus instructs the man so was in order that his healing and obedience to the Law might be “... as a testimony to them.” 
  • When the priests had the ability to verify that this man was completely “cured,” – cleansed from the defilement of his leprosy, they would possess incontrovertible evidence of Jesus compassion and power. 
  • The man had a divinely ordained opportunity to help advance the cause of Christ through obedience and the “testimony” that results; yet as we will see, he fails to take advantage of this opportunity to bring glory to Christ by doing things His own way. 


•How does Jesus demonstrate His tenderness toward this leper? What parallels are there to His tenderness toward you?

•How does Jesus’ instructions demonstrate the responsibility of people who receive His grace to care about their testimonies?

•Share about how the completeness of this man’s healing relates to your own sin issue? III.

III. Jesus Shows Humility before the Father - 5:15-16 


  • We are told in other accounts of this event, that the man didn’t do what Christ had instructed him to do – cp. Mark 1:45 
  • The result of this was that Jesus’ fame became all the more widespread – “But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.” 
  • This “notoriety” created an environment where Jesus had even a greater challenge to preach freely the Gospel of the Kingdom because of the greater and greater demand for the miracles that people came to Him to perform. 
  • This forced Jesus out of the cities and debilitated Him from being able to freely minister as He desired. 
  • Jesus was more widely known about, but not according to the desired approach that Jesus had sought to preserve. 


  • As a result of the intensified ministry and notoriety, Jesus had an increasingly difficult time for His own personal spiritual activities.
  • As a result, He had to find times and locations when He could be “alone” – “But Jesus Himself would often slip away
    to the wilderness and pray.”
  • As the incarnate Son of God – One who had “emptied Himself” of divine glory and humbled Himself to become as we are, He knew the need for communion with the Father in order to provide Him focus, strength, and proper perspective.
  • Everything that God requires of us and is needed by us, Jesus did – even those things that He may not have essentially needed to do. 
  • He prayed not only because He had made Himself dependent upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but because He desired to fellowship with the Father – the greatest yearning of the righteous. 
  • The greatest pain known by Christ was to be separated from the Father – demonstrated by the agonizing cry on the cross – “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – cp. Matthew 27:46 
  • As a result, Jesus regularly prayed: see Luke 3:21; 4:42; 5:16; 6:12, 28; 9:18, 28-29; 11:1; 18:10; 22:40-41, 44. 
  • An element of spiritual vitality that is essential is that you and I pray – not to “get stuff” from God, but to fellowship with God, to enjoy wrestling with our flesh in order to bring it into conformity and submission to Him. 


  • What How involved are you in making Christ Jesus famous for His works of grace?
  • What improvements can you make in this?
    How does Jesus’ example of consecration challenge you in your own fellowship with the Father? 


More in Luke

March 18, 2018

Responding Properly to the Truth

February 25, 2018

Somebody Call 9-1-1

February 18, 2018

The Authority of Christ to Forgive Sins