Jesus Heals the Man with the Withered Hand

6On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. 9Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” 10He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus (Luke 6:6-11).

The Lord Jesus was not complying to all the Pharisee’s rules on keeping the Sabbath. In the synagogue that morning was a man with a right hand that was withered. The word that is translated withered was used of something that was shriveled up or atrophied, as in a dried-up plant or fruit. Verse 7 of Luke 6 tells us that the Pharisees and teachers (scribes) were watching Him closely. I wonder if the Pharisees had deliberately brought the man in order to find an occasion against Jesus by seeing if they could catch Him healing on the Sabbath? The teachers of the law and the Pharisees are there just as a man with a withered hand is brought to Jesus on the Sabbath day.The Lord was angry with all the silly little laws that made life difficult for His people. It loaded people down with burdens that took away the joy of simple life. He took the opportunity to face down His adversaries, and He compassionately healed the man.

Notice that Jesus did not just heal him immediately. He calls the man to stand and then questioned the Pharisees’ theology about God. He challenges them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” (v. 9). To Jesus, to withhold healing just because the day was a Sabbath day was absolutely cruel and spoke more of evil than good. Jesus was willing to break tradition and rules for the sake of mercy and compassion. The Pharisees represented God as being law-centered and not caring for His people. The Lord didn’t touch the man, but told him to stretch out his hand, and as he did so, he was wonderfully healed in full view of all. The Lord defiantly healed the man after silently looking around the room expecting for people to see reason (6:10). How infuriated were the rule–keepers! Where was the love and mercy of God in them! You’d think that they should be full of wonder and joy for the man with the withered hand; instead, they are absolutely crazy with anger at the result of this face-off. The Greek words tell us that they were filled with unreason, describing a hot-headed impulsive hostility toward the Lord for healing the man and belittling them at the same time. “But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus” (v.11). Doesn’t it seem amazing that the Pharisees did not see their own hypocrisy as they were walking away and thinking thoughts of murder?  

We need to be careful that, as Christians, we do not become legalistic ourselves and lose sight of what is really important. The Pharisees knew the Word of God, and yet they did not know the God of the Word. They thought more of the recipe book than the meal itself. The book tells us about how to have a living relationship with the God of the book. Let’s be careful to seek the heart of the God who wrote the book.

These thoughts were taken from the more complete study in Luke 6:1-11, found in the middle column in study 11 from the Book of Luke.

Keith Thomas.

If You Are Willing, You Can Make Me Clean.

12While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 15Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:12-16).

There were two kinds of leprosy in Jesus’ day. One that was rather like a very bad skin disease, while the other was a disease that started from a small spot and ate away the flesh until the wretched sufferer was left with only the stump of a hand or a leg. It was literally a living death.

The man in our passage was covered with leprosy (verse 12). The Book of Leviticus gave very specific instructions about various skin diseases, leprosy being one of them.  Lepers could not live inside the town, obviously that meant that they could not go to synagogue or the Temple. They were outcasts of society. The leper was to cry “Unclean! Unclean!” wherever he went: he was to dwell alone in a habitation outside the camp” (Leviticus 13:45-46). They had to carry a bell everywhere they went and if anyone should come within 50 yards of them they had to ring a warning to them. Leprosy was a contagious disease.

Dr A. B. Macdonald, in an article on the leper colony in Itu, of which he was in charge, wrote, “The leper is sick in mind as well as body. For some reason there is an attitude to leprosy different from the attitude to any other disfiguring disease. It is associated with shame and horror, and carries, in some mysterious way, a sense of guilt, although innocently acquired like most contagious skin diseases. Shunned and despised, frequently lepers consider taking their own lives and some do.” Often the leper came to hate himself. That is the kind of man who came to Jesus; he was unclean and Jesus touched him. It doesn’t seem as if this man came with anyone else if he was part of a leper colony.  Somehow he heard of Jesus and sought Him out.

We are told that without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). The leper had the faith to go in search of Jesus. He risked being stoned for being in the town. It was evident to all he was a leper because he “was covered with leprosy.”  There’s a courage born of desperation that brings him to Jesus proclaiming his words of faith, “if you are willing, you can make me clean.” There is no doubt in his heart that Jesus can do this.  If there is any doubt at all it seems to be about the willingness of a Rabbi to even associate with him. He knew Jesus to be a holy man and was afraid to cause him to be unclean by being near Him, but his was a courage born of desperation. To come into contact with a leper would demand that anyone wash his clothes and be ceremonially unclean for the rest of the day. There was no hesitation in Jesus. He is willing to heal. We would all have wept if we had seen this untouchable being touched with the love of God.

Compassion is a quality sorely in need today. If we want to be like Jesus, we have to reach out beyond ourselves to those He loves and wants to touch. Jesus told him to go and show himself to the priest so that he would be inspected and having been found clean, would be able to be brought into the community of the faithful. Love the unlovely, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ!

Keith Thomas

Jesus and the Leprous Man

12While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 15Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:12-16).

The leper is an example of one with faith in God. The passage tells us that “While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy” (verse 12). This tells us something of the desperation of the leper. He risked being stoned on the way for being in the town. However, for the leper, it was all or nothing. It was evident by his torn clothes and by his face and skin that he was a leper because Luke comments that he “was covered with leprosy.” There seems to be a courage born of desperation that brings him to Jesus.

We see humility on the part of the leper. He casts himself on the ground and, with his face in the dirt, proclaims his words of faith, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Notice that he doesn’t say, “Lord, if you are willing, you can heal me.” This man is aware that he needs to be cleansed of his leprosy. The Lord doesn’t come to the self-sufficient, but to those that readily admit their guilt and need of being cleansed within. Too many rest their weight on trying to be good enough; whereas, this man comes to Christ, admitting that he cannot make it on his own. He knew that his healing was in Jesus’ hands. He was totally dependent upon what God would do for him out of mercy.

Some people would like to think that they can earn God’s favor. They do not realize their own need. It’s like the man who complained to his friends as to the exorbitant cost of his sports car insurance. “How can it be so expensive when I have a clean license,” he said. When he was challenged as to his clean license, he replied, “Well, it’s nearly clean, just a few spots on my record.” How can a person have a nearly clean license? His record is either clean or it’s not! The only way to receive a clean record before God is to come to Him, admitting that you have sinned and that your life is marred and stained by the leprosy of sin. Come to Jesus and be cleansed!

Few people even believed that God would heal leprosy because all that were so afflicted were seen as unclean and under the disfavor of God. I can imagine the crowd near Jesus recoiling with horror when they saw a leper in their midst. Instantly, mothers reached for their children before quickly backing away from him. Would Jesus be angry at such boldness and chutzpah (gall, nerve, bold-faced desperation)? With gasps from the people, Jesus stooped, came down to his level, and put His hand on the man’s head, saying, “I am willing, Be clean!” Christ touched him! As He did so, the knobs on his hands grew fingers, his ears instantly healed, the feet grew out before them, and his eyebrows and eyelashes grew out and hair immediately grew on his head. Those who were watching stared in amazement, as their children began asking their parents as to what happened to the man. There was no hesitation in Jesus. He is willing to heal those who come to Him in faith. Would to God that each of us would approach Jesus with an unconquerable faith such as this!

Today we have around us many who some would say that they are “untouchable,” but Jesus reached out to them and touched them with His love. Can you not do the same?

Taken from the more complete study, 9. Jesus Heals Leprosy and Paralysis, found in the series on the book of Luke found in the middle column. Click on the link and scroll to study nine.

Keith Thomas

Jesus Has Authority to Cast Out Evil Spirits.

33In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34“Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 35“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. 36All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area (Luke 4:31-37).

Luke’s focus is to show us the display of power and authority that Jesus brought against Satan and his kingdom. Twice in our passage, Luke uses the word authority (vs. 32 and 36) to describe the ministry of Jesus. In my opinion, there was more to His message than the structure of His sentences and clarity of logic. Christ did not buttress His message by quoting previous Rabbis. The Lord did not have to support His teaching in any way, for He had and has authority in Himself: “You have heard that it was said…39But I say to you…” (Matthew 5:38-39). He preached God’s Word which is dynamic and powerful itself, but not only has the Word of God authority in itself, there was and is authority and power that is intrinsic in the Speaker, the Lord Jesus.

A person with spiritual authority brings forth a clarity and conviction that speaks to the heart and will of a listener. Jesus was said to have authority and power: “With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” (v. 36). Exousia (authority) is the permission or authority to do something; it denotes the right to do something. The other word translated into English as power (v. 36), is the Greek word Dunamis, from where we get the English word dynamite. This word means to be capable, sufficiently powerful. It is intrinsic power. Exousia is likened to the traffic cop standing at an intersection directing traffic. He has authority to tell you to do something.  If you do not do it, then he has dunamis ( power) in his gun strapped to his waist to make you do it! Demons recognize this authority and power. It is important for us to get a firm understanding of the authority and power that resides in Christ Jesus Himself. Let us try and get a handle on this important truth, for He has also given authority to His Church to carry on His ministry (Matthew 28:18-20).

Exousia (authority) is often used of a king conferring his authority or permission to exert a certain action. There are different kinds of authority, but all are spiritual in nature. There is nothing tangible to grasp. You can’t see authority. Authority, though, has to have power along with it. There is no authority if power is not delegated to back it up. Jesus gave the seventy disciples power and authority to drive out demons and to heal sicknesses, and the result was that the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:17). Authority is exercised in an office situation by the use of power along with it. For instance, your boss exercises authority over you by his use of rewards for correct action, e.g. salary increase or promotion to a higher level. There is also coercive power, i.e. the boss can use the threat and fear of being dismissed or a pay downgrade to influence your performance.

True spiritual leadership is never forced upon the will of the person led. A person with true spiritual leadership should never have to say that he is the leader. True spiritual authority is not coercive or used in a bullying sense, nor does it make a person feel inferior, but it respects moral freedom.

Jesus exercised true spiritual authority in His leadership. He never forced His will over people. His leadership style was one of true agape love which ignited a desire from those who heard His words to want to be like Him! You can only exercise true spiritual leadership when you have earned the right by the degree of your character and the presence of the Spirit in your life.

Taken from the more complete study in the book of Luke, study 7. Jesus’ Authority over Demons, found in the middle column under the title “Luke, A Walk through the Life of Jesus.

Keith Thomas

Jesus and the Woman with Internal Bleeding

25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” 32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:25-34).

The woman we read about above had internal bleeding for 12 years. She had tried everything the doctors had said to her but nothing healed her. In her desperation, she conceived a plan. Faith rose up in her to believe that if she could get close enough to Jesus and touch the hem of His cloak, she would be healed. The God of heaven inspired her to reach out and stop the Son of God for her need. She made a faith statement inside her heart to the Lord.

God responds to faith. When a thought that may be inspired faith comes to you, do you shut it down as ridiculous or do you go with it? We are told in verse 31 that the crowds were pressing against Christ, how is it that some can crowd the Lord while others can go beyond the crowd to touch him for their needs? What do you think is the secret of those that get their prayers and needs met? Expectation or faith are key words in approaching God, but also determination, not allowing anything to put you off from getting your need met by the King of Glory.

This principle of determination is what the woman has. No matter how big the crowd was, no matter how hard it was to push through; she would reach out and touch the Lord. There was danger that went along with this plan, though. There were strict laws laid down in Leviticus 15:19-33, that separated any woman with internal bleeding from other healthy people. Any person with a sickness like hers had to be separated from the community and kept at distance. Anything or anyone she touched would make them unclean. If she were found out, people would be really angry.

Imagine the pain that this woman lived with daily. There was the physical pain of her condition, and also the constant emotional pain from living a life of segregation similar to that of a leper, one who was viewed as unclean by the rest of society. Everything she touched was viewed as contaminated! How scared she must have been as she was mingling with the crowd trying to get to Jesus. He was her only hope and He did not let her down. She was desperate and alone as she stretched forth and connected her fingers to the cloak of Jesus. As soon as she touched His garment she was healed instantly.

The Lord felt power leave His body as the woman touched Him. Even though the crowd was pressing against Him, He knew that someone had gone beyond the crowd with a touch of faith. Why would Jesus stop and ask who touched Him? It might have been that He wanted the Father to get the glory for what was done. It also might have been that He was concerned for the woman that the healing is open before all the community, in order for her to reenter society and no longer be separated from her friends.  He wanted her to be able to go into the house of God and worship with all the rest of the congregation.

Why was she trembling at His question?  She took a huge risk. Jesus was well known as a Rabbi in who is the Spirit of God. She might have thought that she would contaminate him with her uncleanness and render Him unable to carry on His ministry.  I am sure that she expected to be severely told off, but instead, how kind was His response. There was no anger from Him, just encouragement to her for stretching out her faith to touch Him. How about you? Isn’t it time you stretched out your faith to the Lord Jesus?

Keith Thomas