Luke and the Lost
How often does does Scripture tell us about God’s desire for us to change from the inside out? “Man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). How often does God tell us what He is really after in our walk with Him?
He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.
Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen
1 Chronicles 28:9
“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.
“Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees?”
2 Chronicles 16:9
“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
This is only a few choice passages that remind us the God is after the pureness of our hearts turned completely over to Him. A changed heart requires inward focus toward repentance, remorseful change. Outward “fixes” will occur when the inside is first washed clean and pure.
Jesus is approached by a man with leprosy in our next passage of Luke’s account of lost and found people. Leprosy, a contagious disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves, causing discoloration and lumps on the skin and, in severe cases, disfigurement and deformities has plagued the outside of a man. A man with this bacteria that has taken over his inside physical system, affecting his outside appearance. He falls at the feet of Jesus for relief through ultimate healing. Jesus gives him an invitation to a changed life, from the inside out.
Luke 5, The Message
12 One day in one of the villages there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus he fell down before him in prayer and said, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”
13 Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there his skin was smooth, the leprosy gone.
14-16 Jesus instructed him, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed self to the priest, along with the offering ordered by Moses. Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” But the man couldn’t keep it to himself, and the word got out. Soon a large crowd of people had gathered to listen and be healed of their ailments. As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.
The afflicted man fell down before Jesus in prayer…”if you want to, you can cleanse me.” Did Jesus see through the leprosy to a sincere heart of repentance and the need for a Savior?
Jesus healed the man by the mere touch of His Hand…”I want to. Be clean.” The leprosy left his ravaged body immediately.
The following instructions to the man makes us wonder if this episode goes beyond the words of a miraculous healing to what God is after in the first place…a humbled, contrite, changed heart. He tells the healed, happy man to not tell anyone. Jesus specifically tells the man to prove to the priest by showing him your changed outward appearance, that you are fit to walk the streets again, AND give an offering according to the law of Moses. Don’t talk about it (the healing) all over town. Be obedient, in other words.
The POINT Jesus was trying to make to the man: “Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”
The healed man missed the point. He talked about his outward change all over town, causing crowds to gather around The Healer to be rid of their own aliments.
No wonder, “As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.”
Do we miss the point? Do we talk more about our outward stuff more than our inward change, giving God all the glory and praise for our transformation of heart, mind and soul? Are we sometimes a bit boastful of our outward changes? What is our focus? In or out? Some of the strongest people of faith I know live quiet, unassuming lives of obedience to God. You just know it. And you know God more by being near them.
Dear Heavenly Father, You have such long suffering patience with us until we figure out what you want in our hearts. My heart belongs to You, but I repent of those times when I was not as humble as I should be about what You have done in me, for me and through me. Inside my heart, that’s where it counts in Your eyes. Help me live a quiet, obedient life that has been cleansed by You. Help us all, Lord.
In Jesus Name and by His Power, Amen