And it happened when [Jesus] was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.” …Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Jesus… When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Luke 5:12, 13, 18, 20
Tonight, my sister Mary read us (myself, my brother, and my parents) the Luke 5 story of the leper who was cleansed by Jesus. As I looked over the passage to write about it for this Thursday, I noticed that it parallels nicely with the following story of the paralytic, and I don’t think that is a coincidence. The first story deals with an outer cleansing of the body and the latter deals with an inner cleansing of the soul.
Too often as a Christian, I think: “I have to keep myself pure” or “I have to do such and such” in order to repent and atone for my sin. But this is very false, very dangerous teaching. It is true that Christians are to keep themselves unspotted from the world, keep themselves clean. However, it is dangerous when we think that WE have to do this work ourselves. We can never keep ourselves clean. The Old Testament demonstrates that: God prescribed sets of rules for Israel to live by, and, inevitably, they broke those rules again and again. And that was the point – that we cannot do it ourselves. That is why Christ died for us. His death, once, and for all time, made us clean in his sight and atoned for our sins. And we know have the Holy Spirit indwelling in us to clean us and sanctify us in our daily life.
So, just as the leper was cleansed and the paralytic forgiven, so too are we cleansed and forgiven through Christ’s work. If we want to truly be pure, we should trust in that work and not our own efforts.