“The Legacy” Episode 22: Jesus, Full of Compassion

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHyt9IaoKtY&w=560&h=315]

Today’s lesson is especially timely as our nation and our world deals with all of the fear and uncertainty regarding the Corona virus.

In our last lesson we saw how Jesus had gone off to have some private prayer time after a powerful time of ministering to large numbers of people at Peter’s house.

Jesus’ Prayer time is abruptly interrupted by Peter and the others telling Him that everyone is looking for Him! So He said “Let’s go on to the next towns,” So they make the journey from Capernaum to Galilee which was around 17 miles and right away Jesus gets to work teaching and healing..

In the midst of all this, a leper comes and kneels down before Jesus. Leprosy is mentioned in the Bible 68 times. The name originates from the Hebrew word Tzaraath which means “scales,” like on a fish or a reptile.

The disease we call leprosy today is also known as Hansen’s disease and it’s not necessarily the same as the condition known as leprosy in the Bible. In fact, there were a number of infectious skin diseases biblical times that might fall into the category of leprosy. Today, leprosy is easily treatable in countries with adequate care available but in other places you still sometimes see leper colonies.

When a person was diagnosed with leprosy in the Bible, part of the treatment was to declare them ceremonially Unclean. It’s important to remember that being Unclean in itself was not necessarily evil or sinful. In fact, it was sometimes unavoidable. When a woman was in her menstrual period or if she had just given birth, she was Unclean for a time. If you touched a dead body, you were Unclean. This is discussed in detail in the Book of Leviticus. You can find the instructions about leprosy in chapter 13-14.

A person with leprosy was expected to yell out “Unclean, Unclean” so people would know to avoid him and failure to do that could possibly even get the person killed! So his approaching Jesus this way was an act of tremendous courage. Also notice his deep sense of humility. He comes to Jesus and kneels down before Him His request was not just to be healed of the leprosy, although that is certainly understood. But he also needs to be made ceremonially clean so that he doesn’t have to live his life separated from his family and his neighbors. And when Jesus heard this, it says He is filled with compassion.

“Filled with compassion.” I would encourage you to spend some time meditating on that phrase. The Greek word is splanchnistheis, which means “… to be moved to the innermost parts. with pity or compassion.” We will be coming back to it in a moment.

Touching a leper made you ceremonial ly Unclean. But Jesus touched him anyway! And what happened? The direct opposite result! Jesus didn’t become Unclean from touching the leper. Instead, His touch made the leper clean!

In light of this, many Bible scholars believe that leprosy is a type, a foreshadow, of sin. Like sin, it was an inward condition that affected the person in a hideous manner. It isolated the person. And most importantly, the person was incapable of curing themselves.

In light of this, Jesus tells the man to go back to the priest and go through the process of being officially declared clean, again you can read about that in Leviticus 13 and 14. Then surprisingly Jesus tells the man not to tell anyone about what had just happened. The Greek word here is very emphatic. Jesus adamantly told the man not to tell anyone what had happened. The time for that had not yet come.
But, not too surprisingly, the man didn’t listen. He went around telling everyone and as a result the news spread rapidly crowds kept mobbing Jesus everywhere He went!

As we wrap up I want to revisit t this word “compassion,” which is Jesus’ motivating factor in everything He does. In our English terminology, “compassion” is a compound word meaning “common passion” or “to suffer along with.”

Sometimes we think of passion as simply something we really like or enjoy. You are passionate about a hobby. You are passionate about a music group or a sports team. But that is a very short sighted understanding of the term. Your passion is what you are willing to suffer for. And Jesus’ passion was for us!

Keep It Real,



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“Keeping It Real” with James H Boyd

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