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The Paradox of Jesus ~ Luke 5:12-26 June 2, 2013 ~ New City Church Calgary ~ Pastor John Ferguson Intro:

The Green Mile tag line: Paul Edgecomb didn't believe in miracles. Until the day he met one. (Tom Hanks Paul Edgecomb: Prison Officer of Cold Mt. Penitentiary in 1930s; Michael Clark Duncan John Coffey) I thought of that line as I was reflecting on what it must have been like to have been one of the two people in our text todayone a leper, the other a paralyticwho received a miracle from Jesus of Nazareth. When one begins looking into the life of Jesus, it becomes apparent from the accounts recorded for us in these historical documents that Jesus was a miracle worker. He did astonishing things to people that defied explanation: things that seemed too good to be true, too paradoxical to be believed.

It might be EASY to write this off as fiction, but Luke the ancient physician who documented and compiled this biography based on eyewitness testimony would object and say, Listen: there were hundreds and thousands of people who said they have witnessed these events. You may not believe in miracles, but we do because we seen them. In fact, we have met one. And Luke records writes for us b/c hes wants understand something profound about who Jesus is and what he came to do. So whether you are skeptical of miracles or find it easy to believe in them, we are all invited to listen to what Luke has to say about Jesus of Nazareth. In the process, well learn from Jesus something significant about our deepest need, and something profound about the paradox of the man who claimed to be God.

The Paradox of Jesus Luke 5:12-26 SCENE #1 12 And while he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy 1. Leprosy is also known as Hansens Disease. o About 95% of the population has a natural immunity to it. Only 5% are susceptible [source]. At the time it was thought to be highly contagious. 2. full of leprosy indicates that his leprosy was in an advanced state . o Dr. Paul Brand, who worked in leper colonies, called the it a painless hell. o Bacteria attacks the nerve endings in the limbs, eyes, ears, & nose. o Levitical law (13:46) required that the person live in quarantine outside the camp & yell, Unclean! Unclean! if anyone came near. 3. Leprosy became a vivid parable of what sin is & what it does to people. o Sin infects our whole being making us numb to the reality of God. o Because of that, we are unclean.

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And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, Lord, if you will, you can make me clean. 1. Here the man comes into the city to find Jesus. o Note, the leper didnt say to Jesus, Lord, if you will, you can heal me, but Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.

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And Jesus [filled with compassion Mark 1:41] stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, I will; be clean. And immediately the leprosy left him. 1. People avoided lepers like the plague. It may have been decades since someone had touched him. o Kent Hughes story of the man who had his hair cut weekly so someone would touch him in a caring way. o The word touched is often translated to take hold of (Hughes 170).

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And he charged him to tell no one, but Go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them. 1. Ceremony for cleansing in the rare event of being healed is found in Lev. 14 o It was like he was born again, entering a new life. o Hughes 166, It was as if a resurrection had taken place.

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But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

SCENE #2 17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 1. This is the first time Luke introduces us to the Pharisees 2. They were the moral police, and they come out in force o T. Wright 59, This seems a bit excessive; why should they gather like this to check out a young prophet who is doing and saying strange things? The answer is that their particular causefor which they were from time to time prepared to take drastic actionwas the coming kingdom of God; and if someone else appeared on the scene who seemed to be talking about the same thing but getting it all wrong, they wanted to know about it. 18 19 20 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, Man, your sins are forgiven you. 2

1. Jesus was claiming the authority to forgive sins committed against God. o He was bypassing the system. 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone? 1. The Pharisees are 50% right here. They are right that only God can forgive sin; they are wrong that Jesus is speaking blasphemy. They are not connecting the dots! 22 23 24 When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier to say, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, Rise and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sinshe said to the man who was paralyzedI say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home. Which is easier to say? Which is easier to verify? This is the first time that Jesus uses the term the son of man. Whats the significance? Daniel 7:13-14 refers to a messianic figure who has worldwide authority. And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, We have seen extraordinary things today. The word for extraordinary things...is paradoxa, (paradox) things you wouldnt normally expect. You didnt see it coming.

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So, why did Luke record these stories in his historical biography of Jesus? Its absolutely essential to see that the aim of Jesus is not just a surface healing of the ills of the world, but the deep, profound healing that comes about through the forgiveness of sins. Main Idea: Our biggest problem is not our suffering. It is our sin. Thats why we need a Saviour.

Jesus: I have come in the first place to deal with the biggest problem humanity is facing and that is your spiritual plight before God. If you could see yourself rightly, you would see that you are full of leprosy spiritually, and you are completely paralyzed to do anything about it. I have the authority to forgive your sins, and the ability to make you clean. I will come again to put the world to rightI will banish sin and suffering and death. But my mission right now is to deal with your biggest problem. 3

1. Believe it. a. Obj: I dont know about this. After all, Ive never seen a miracle. I dont know anyone who has. This seems a bit far fetched for me. o I get that. Im skeptical about a lot of what is claimed today too. Someone makes toast and they see a picture of Jesus and claim its a miracleyeah, I dont buy that either. o But something else is going on here. Luke has compiled this gospel from eyewitness accounts. This wasnt done in secret. This was verifiable. Luke is writing to a Roman official to persuade him to be an all out follower of Christ. He says, Look, hundreds and thousands of people witnessed the miracles of Jesus. If he is who he said he was, and if he performed the greatest miracle of all, his own resurrection from the dead, why should it be so hard to believe he could do this other minor miracles. I know you default mode is to not believe in miracles. What Luke is trying to get you to do is meet one.

b. If you are skeptical, I want to challenge you to be skeptical of your skepticism. How can you be so sure that this isnt true? Doubt your doubts. Is it possible that this is true? o Jesus: Why do you question in your heart? Dont you believe what Im telling you? o The Pharisees were amazed, but by the next chapter, they start plotting the death of Jesus 2. Receive it. a. We dont like to be told that we are spiritual lepers, & that we are paralyzed to do anything about it. But to begin to follow Jesus is to listen closely to his diagnosis about what is wrong with us. b. Father Damien worked in the Leper Colony in Molokai Hawaii. We lepers c. Jesus moved towards us, and in a sense when he died on the Cross, we can say he contracted our spiritual disease of sin. He became a spiritual leper. o 2 Corinthians 5:21, God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us o 1 Peter 2:24, He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree. By his wounds you have been healed. 3. Share it. a. Luke 24:45, Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and he said to them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. b. The forgiveness of sins is central to the proclamation of the kingdom of God. 4