Do you think you’re too broken or too sinful to be healed? In this week in the sermon series, Never Be the Same, David Marvin shows us through Matthew 8 that Jesus is the only cure for our sin and brokenness.
Jesus in Jericho | Luke 19:1-10
The Cure for Sin
Living a Meaningful Story | Mark 2:13-17
Finding Satisfaction for Your Soul | John 4:4-34
Show Your Wounds to Share Your Savior
Do you think you’re too broken or too sinful to be healed? In this week in the sermon series, Never Be the Same, David Marvin shows us through Matthew 8 that Jesus is the only cure for our sin and brokenness.
Good morning, Watermark, everybody in the room, everybody online. My name is David Marvin. I serve and direct the ministry called The Porch Tuesday nights with young adults. We are continuing this series Never Be the Same, looking at life-changing encounters with Jesus. I'm going to read the passage we're going to be in in Matthew, chapter 8, where we're going to look at another life-changing encounter with somebody who bumped into Jesus and would never be the same.
"When he [Jesus] came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him…" Which would have been illegal. As we're going to unpack, leprosy was a disease that anyone who had it was to remain at a distance, separated, to not be kneeling or in front of anyone.
"…saying, 'Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.' And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, 'I will; be clean.' And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, 'See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.'"
It's known as the story of Jesus healing the leper. Let me invite you into some recent events in my own life that'll give us some direction for where we're going to go. Two weeks ago, I was teaching on this stage on Sunday, and the week before that, I was speaking somewhere else, and during that week, I got hit with some sinus infection that was just one of those moments where you're just horrible and you feel terrible.
For three days I had a fever, aches, headache. I was trying anything and everything. (Yes, I know; there's a pandemic. I got COVID tested. It was not COVID. So I ruled that out. If you're thinking, "That doesn't mean anything; you could still have a negative test," then why are we even getting tested?) So, I was searching for relief the whole week, saying…
I don't really love taking medicine. I don't even love taking more than one Advil, but it was a moment where I was teaching and speaking and just felt terrible, so I was going through the Rolodex of tons of different things, trying to figure out something to find relief. None of it was working. I mean, two types of Mucinex DMs just in case I'm missing something here, rotating the Advil and the Tylenol, doing Zicam, because somebody told me zinc fights and makes fevers go away.
I tried Airborne, even though I think this has actually been debunked that it doesn't work, but I was desperate. I was going through anything and everything trying to figure out… I wasn't even sure what this one was. It's some sort of nasal decongestant. DayQuil, NyQuil…to the point where, finally, I got so desperate, three days in at 3:00 in the morning I went down and raided our medicine cabinet and took a three-year-old expired amoxicillin, hoping… "Lord, please. Please let me feel better." So if I pass out or start growing a third arm up here, you will know why.
I was just so desperate, trying to find some sort of relief. Finally, a friend of mine, Eric, who I work with on staff, was like, "You need to call a doctor. You need to go see the doctor. You need to get a Z-Pak or get an antibiotic and a steroid. You'll feel better." I didn't follow that advice, but eventually, out of such desperation, I was like, "I think I need a Z-Pak or an antibiotic." Within 24 hours, the fever had broken and I began to feel better.
What does that have to do with today? Well, in a very similar way of being in a place where you have something you're sick with and you're searching and searching and there just isn't a solution and then you find it, this man had spent years, ever since he contracted the sickness of leprosy, and eventually had run out of any option until, one day, a man named Jesus of Nazareth shows up. He hears that this man is potentially not just any man, but he's healing people and restoring sight to the blind, and he could raise people from the dead, and he could even heal a leper.
He goes and throws himself at Jesus' feet and says, "Lord, if you're willing, you can give me my life back. You can heal me." And Jesus does it. It's beautiful. It's powerful. It's an incredible story. But I think it's so much more than just a story about this man. I think it's our story. It's the Christian story. It's the story of any person who has ever been a Christian. What I want to do for the next 30 minutes… I want to try to accomplish two things.
First, I want to speak to anyone who's not a Christian, and I want to tell you, if you ever decide to become a Christian, what that looks like, because there's a lot of misunderstanding around what it even means to be a follower of Christ. Then I want to speak to anyone who is a Christian, because the same way you become a Christian, as we're going to see, is also how we live the Christian life out, and I want to walk through the parallels between this story and even how Jesus interacts with this man and what he has done on our behalf and for us in a very similar way.
So, I'm going to walk through three different components from this story that you could say make up the equation for how someone can never be the same. They are, in essence, the formula for how to become a Christian and how to live the Christian life and how a person is changed. So, I'm going to start again in verse 1 and unpack a little bit of leprosy. It says, like I already read, Jesus came down from the mountain. He had just finished teaching the Sermon on the Mount. (We'll come back to that in a second.) Without question, the greatest sermon in human history.
He comes down the mountain. A huge crowd is all around him, and a leper throws himself at Jesus' feet. Anyone in that audience, if they're sitting around and see a leper come, immediately is repelled and moving back, gasping. It's a leper. Why? Well, a leper was someone who had contracted a horrific disease. The disease of leprosy is really… When we read the Bible, it's one of those things that was in the past and we don't really interact with leprosy, but a far greater stigma would have been associated with leprosy than any COVID virus or anything like we have known today.
It was a disease that the moment you woke up and saw spots, which would begin to appear on your skin, you knew, "If I have leprosy, life as I've known it is now life as I knew it," because it was not just a disease that was incredibly painful and physically would attack you from the inside out. One of the ways leprosy works is it starts on the inside. It attacks your central nervous system, your ability to feel things.
Eventually, as it progresses, you get to the point where you can't feel things, which is why, in addition to all of the different scabs and things that are on your skin, oftentimes lepers would have fingers or toes or appendages that would fall off, because they would cut them and wouldn't feel the pain. You could stick your hand in the fire, and you wouldn't feel that your hand was being burned away. It was horrible. Eventually, all your hair and your face would be disheveled, covered in scabs.
It was not just incredibly painful physically. It also had deep emotional and psychological pain, because there was a societal implication. If you got leprosy, God commanded in Leviticus 13-14 some very specific commands as it related to you. You would be quarantined from the rest of society. You would wake up, and if you had it, that would be the last time you hugged your kids, the last time you kissed your wife, the last time you worked at your job. Everything would change.
Like I said, in Leviticus 13 (which is a real fun read, by the way, if you want to go look into how to approach leprosy later today), it says this: "The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, 'Unclean, unclean.'" Like, "Stay back! Stay back!" "He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp." Or in Jesus' day, outside of the city.
Rabbinical teaching was that a person with a leprous disease had to remain at a distance of 16 feet if there was no wind and up to 100 feet distance from any other person if there was a wind. Think of how you would have to adjust your life, constantly going, "Is it windy? Can I move toward somebody?" Throw the grass up in the air. "Is there enough wind here?" Because that would determine whether or not I could get within 16 feet of my kids or I'd have to stay 100 feet from those I loved.
Your ability to buy food… It was all transformed…your daily life. There was no Amazon Prime to deliver and just leave it at the front door. Anybody who wanted to buy food or do anything had to leave it on the ground and walk away. Everything changed. This man was confronted with the reality there was no cure until he bumped into the one who could cure anybody and anything: Jesus.
How does that parallel or what does that have to do with our story? In a very similar way, biblically, leprosy is often synonymous with sin. There's an infection that every person who has ever lived, every person in this room, has, and it's not the disease of leprosy; it's the disease of sin that has infected us. The first idea I want to talk about is the curse of sin that infects us, because there are striking parallels when you look.
Even in the Old Testament, leprosy would have been synonymous with what sin does to a person. Why do I say that? Because inside of leprosy, lepers would be infected from the inside out. In other words, by the time anything showed up on their skin, it was already at work and the disease was flowing through their body. In the same way, this is exactly how sin works.
You may be new to church. This is your first time in church. You may even say, "I don't know if I fully even believe it," but here's what I know you know about yourself. What the Bible says is called a sin nature is at work in all of us, and you can see the symptoms of it pop up. The symptoms of that sickness, whether or not you'd even call it that or have ever thought of it that way… What do I mean the symptoms of it? Why does it come naturally to do things the Bible would call a sin?
Why is it so easy for me to be prone to be entitled, to be selfish, to be angry, to be insecure, to be all of these different things? They literally flow. I don't have to work at them. They just come naturally. I've been doing this a long time, 12 years, and I've never heard the person come up and say, "You know what I'm really working on this year? I'm trying to be more angry. It just doesn't come naturally to me. I'm working on my bitterness."
Or I've never heard the person come up and say, "You know, I'm just such a generous person. I'm working on greed this year." No. You haven't either, because all that comes naturally. Why? The Bible would say it's because you have an infection that's inside coursing through your heart, your life, your self. It's a sickness, and those are symptoms of that sickness. It's a sickness called sin. The curse of sin that infects us.
Another way leprosy is synonymous or parallels with sin is leprosy was something that would isolate you from God and from people. In other words, anyone who had leprosy could not go to church or go to temple. They were cut off, if you will, from God and their ability to worship him. In the same way, sin is the thing that has cut us off and will cut anybody off eternally from having a relationship with God if they don't trust in Jesus Christ.
Even if you have trusted Christ, sin in its presence is the thing that makes you feel like, "Man, I just feel a distance from God." If you've been running or maybe there's something you're hiding and you never shared with anybody and there's something you know, if you're honest with yourself… You go to pray, and you feel like, "I don't even know if God is listening." You're flooded with shame and guilt, because like leprosy, sin cuts us off and away from God, both eternally and relationally in this life.
It also cuts us off from relationships with other people. Leprosy was one of those things… Social distancing has been around for a much longer time than 2020. Anyone who had leprosy had to be socially distanced and quarantined outside of any relationships. Isn't it funny? Sin does the exact same thing. It comes in and it begins to break down. It divides just by essence. When it's allowed to run loose, it destroys relationships.
Every marriage that has ever fallen apart was the direct result of sin. Candidly, the reason it's painful for so many people when they think of Father's Day is because sin did what it does. It came in and severed your relationship with your father. Maybe his sin severed that relationship, because that's just what it does. Just like leprosy, it erodes relationship. It cuts us off from each other and from God.
The other way it parallels is it numbs you to its effects the more it progresses. In other words, the more leprosy takes its toll, the less and less you can feel. The fingers, toes, hands become numb. Isn't it funny that also this happens as it relates to sin? The more you do it, the more easily we're able to give into it.
The first time you looked at pornography, it was such a huge deal. The first time you slept with someone, it was "I can't believe I just gave away my virginity," and then easily, it just becomes something you do, just a part of your life. You become numb to it, because like leprosy, it's how sin works. Over and over the parallels… We don't even have time to look at all of them.
One last one is leprosy would distort your appearance. It would make someone, however attractive they were, unattractive, because it would deform things. Isn't it funny that sin does the exact same thing to us? You may not think of it exactly that way, because it doesn't physically change, necessarily, or there are not spots that show up, but the characteristics of somebody… The more they are the characteristics of sin, the more unattractive they are by nature to us. There's something about it that's kind of repelling.
Working with single young adults, oftentimes they're in that stage where they are looking for that person, and when it comes to the list of the person they want to spend the rest of the rest with, their forever… They have a list. Whether or not they have ever articulated it, they have something in their head that they're hoping and dreaming that this is what they're going to be like.
On that list, I've never heard somebody say, "You know who I'm really looking for? You know who I'm most attracted to? A guy with an anger problem." Or a girl who says, "I'm just looking for somebody who has no ability to handle his gambling addiction." Or a guy who says, "You know what? I'm looking for a girl who will just blow through our savings account. She's so materialistic. She's selfish. All she thinks about is herself." No, because those are unattractive qualities.
Sin by definition, when it takes over, there's a way in which it is increasingly unattractive, like leprosy. This man had realized, "I have a problem I can't handle, and I can't get over, and I can't fix myself. I have something that the solution is not going to come from within me." If you have been around here a while, we have a ministry called re:generation. Re:generation is a 12-month discipleship program. It's amazing. It meets on Monday nights, led by John Elmore and an incredible team. I could not more highly recommend it. It deeply impacted my life.
Re:gen has a slogan, and the slogan is the tagline of this series: never be the same. Inside of that 12-month-long ministry, they take you through these 12 different steps, and the whole goal is "These are the 12 steps Christians do for the rest of their lives, and anyone who wants to never be the same does these 12 steps." The very first step is recognizing the curse that infects us is sin, that we are unable to deal with this infection, that it's present and I can't fix what I'm unwilling to face, or I have to acknowledge I have a sickness that is within me.
The first step is admit. In other words, if you walk through the 12 steps of re:gen, this would be the first one you'd walk through. "We admit we are powerless over our sin, that in our own power our lives are unmanageable." What this leper is saying to Jesus, "I have a problem, and I can't fix it," is the same thing that anybody who becomes a Christian…
The first step they take is, "God, I have a problem. I am a sinner. I am unworthy of having a relationship with you. There is sin that has infected me, and I, on my own, will never be good enough to earn anything that would merit a relationship with you. I recognize I am broken by a curse that infects us called sin."
He also gives us a second step that is a component of anybody who is a Christian and is a part of the Christian life. I'm going to read it again. "He came before him and knelt and said, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.'" The emotional significance of what just happened in that story… It almost would be hard for us to imagine or put into words, but I'm going to attempt to. Here's what happened.
That man, by law, had to remain at a distance of 16 feet from everyone at a minimum. To break the law by throwing himself in front of a crowd of people meant he risked himself being stoned to death for breaking the law and doing what was unlawful for a leper to come and do. This is about 16 feet away from the podium. The closest he was able to get to Jesus or should have been able to get to Jesus or should have been around any person would have been right here if there was no wind, farther back if there was, and he was to yell out, "Unclean! Unclean!"
But this man realized something that every Christian, in a spiritual sense, realizes that leads them to become a Christian. This man realized, "I have no other option. Sure, if I go over there I could lose my life, but as it is, I'm a dead man walking already. I've lost everything, and if there's a man, if there's even a chance he could give my life back…" He began to walk, and he moved toward this man he hadn't met before, but he'd heard… "There's a chance he could heal me."
He walks over and throws himself at the feet of the Son of God and says, "God, if you're willing, you can heal me. You can take away. You can heal the leprous spots." What he does is what every person who becomes a Christian does. He comes to the end of himself. "I'm out of options, and that has led me to know I can't fix myself, and if there's a chance you can, I am throwing myself at your feet at the risk of being stoned."
That audience in that moment… They're backing away 16 feet. It's a leper. If they were to get infected, they would have their entire lives changed. They don't know the story is going to end with Jesus stretching out and healing. Rabbis instructed people, "If there's a leper anywhere near, you move away." He throws himself at Jesus' feet, recognizing the same solution that anyone who becomes a Christian recognizes: Christ alone can cure us.
The first step is that there is an infection, a curse that infects us called sin, and there's only one who can heal us. The second idea from the text that we see in this man's example is recognizing Christ alone can cure us. It is no accident when this story happens. It's brilliant. It's amazing. What do I mean? This story takes place in Matthew, chapter 8, verse 1. What happened right before Matthew, chapter 8? Well, as I alluded to earlier, something called the Sermon on the Mount.
The Sermon on the Mount takes place in Matthew 5-7. Jesus' first sermon, longest sermon we have in there. It's incredible. It's powerful. It has changed cultures, civilization. It has influenced you even if you've never read it before. Why do I say that? Things like the Golden Rule… Maybe you grew up in elementary school, like I did, where it was on the wall. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto yourself."
The sermon is filled with incredible teaching and powerful truths. Jesus sat on that mountain… We're told in Matthew 5:1, seeing the crowds, he went up a mountain and sat down, and he opened his mouth and taught them. While what he taught was incredible, it was powerful, it was beautiful, it was life-changing, the Sermon on the Mount is also haunting. If I may, it's a little bit demoralizing or depressing, if you will. Why do I say that? Stay with me. Because in it, it's intended to be.
Jesus comes through. He teaches like nobody has ever taught before, and when he covers things, he basically raises the bar everywhere. He's like, "You've heard it said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' I tell you if you've ever lusted after someone, you're an adulterer." All right. God bless. Good to see you. "You've heard, 'You shall not murder anybody.' I tell you if you harbor anger in your heart, you're a murderer." I mean, left and right. It's like, Boom! Boom! Boom!
If that wasn't bad enough, in a zenith moment of the sermon, he says this: "You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Think about that sentence. Think if you came in today and that was all I gave you. "Good morning, church. All right. You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. See you next week." You'd be like, "What?" So I looked up the original Greek just to unpack, like, "What is the original Greek word for perfect?" Here's what it means: perfect.
"Jesus, what are you saying? You must be perfect? If that's the standard, nobody can reach it." Bingo. That's the point. That's the entire point of the whole story or biblical narrative. You are not enough on your own. Christianity has never taught "Be a good person, go to church, read a bunch of Bible, and then you can have a relationship with God." It has taught you are a bad person, and so am I, and every person you've ever met, no matter how good they think they are. Christ alone can cure us.
It is no accident, in other words, that right after finishing a sermon whose point is you on your own will never be enough… You need God. You can't get there. He walks down, and the very first interaction he has is with this man who is the living embodiment…it's brilliant; it's incredible…of sin, an incredible metaphor of what sin does in all of our lives. He walks down, and he sees this leper, and the leper does what all of us who become Christians do: throws himself at the mercy of Jesus and on his knees says, "God, you can make me clean. You can do what no one else can do. You're the cure. You alone can cure me."
This is what Christianity has always taught. Christ alone can cure us. Christ alone can allow us to spend eternal life with God. At the end of that message, he sees this man who is the perfect illustration of the point of the message, the point of why Jesus had to come, the point of why Jesus had to die: because we could not on our own get there.
About two months ago, I was out with my son, who's around 5. As any parent in the room knows, there are times of the day on the weekend when you're like, "You've got to get some energy out, and Mama needs some 'me' time, so go take the kids." One way I'll do that is I'll take my kids, and we'll go out, and they'll get on their scooters, and I ride a longboard, like I'm 14, and we race down hills. I was out doing that, and when I race my son, he gets to the point where it becomes competitive.
He wants to win, and we're racing, and we'll race back and forth. Dads all know there are times you're like, "All right. You've got this one. Good job, slugger." Then there are times where you're like, "Okay. Time to put you back in your place." This was one of those. We're racing, and he was a little bit ahead of me. We're racing down this hill, and I'm on the longboard, and I'm like, "All right. Game time." I'm going and catching up to him, telling him, "All right. I'm about to win."
He begins to move in my direction as we're going, like he's a safety playing for the Cowboys, or something, and at the last minute cuts right into me. My front wheel hits his back wheel, and Boom! He didn't even flinch. He just kept going. I hit the ground, and it was one of those moments where the pain is so great you're not even… It doesn't lead you to tears. You're shocked. You're like, "Oh! Oh! Everybody back home!"
We go home. My hand blows up like blowing into a latex glove. It's swollen. The next day at church, I bump into a friend who's a doctor here, and she was like, "You should really get that looked at." So I leave service, go to a doc-in-the-box, and get an x-ray. The doctor comes out. She's like, "Oh yeah. You broke your fifth metacarpal. You're going to need to go see an orthopedic surgeon." I was like, "Are you sure? Couldn't we just tape it up and move on and it'll be great? Like, what are they going to do? Bones heal. Right?"
She was like, "Nope. The way this bone is displaced, you're going to need surgery, because it's broken in such a way that it won't heal correctly. It's unable to. You need a surgeon to come in and put pins in there before you would put a cast on it in order for your hand to function. If you don't, then there's a great likelihood that you're going to have significant pain. It's going to get worse, and eventually, you're going to have to have surgery anyway, and it's going to bother you for the rest of your life." I was like, "All right. Touché. Check. Let's do the surgery."
It was a perfect example of what Christians recognize: we are unable to fix the brokenness we have. The message of Christianity is that there's a God who's a divine surgeon who moves toward not just broken hands but broken souls, hearts, people, and he can come in and put things back together. He can heal the places, the spots that are not on your skin, they're in your soul. He can conquer addictions. He can resurrect marriages. He can restore prodigals back to their parents.
On our own, you and I are unable to do so. But there's a God who is there, and he's not just there; he's, as we discover, willing. What I want to do is spend the next few minutes we have looking at what is perhaps the most astonishing part of the story and looking at who the Savior we turn to is, how he saves the man and who he is, because in it we see an indication of how he responds and moves toward not just physically sick people, but spiritually sick people.
When you teach onstage, there's something that happens that you may never have thought of before, but it happens all the time to me. People will come up, and they'll say, "Huh. You're not really what I expected." I never quite know what to do with that, but then they explain. They go, "Oh, you're a lot taller than I thought." It happens all the time. People are like, "I thought you were like this."
The reason is because I'm six feet. That just feels weird saying. The reason people are like, "Hey, I thought you were shorter" is because when Todd or JP are up here, they are freakishly tall. I mean, like, 6'7" or 6'5". Like, we are hiring the Nephilim around here. Then they come up, and they're like, "Oh, you're taller than I thought."
That happens or this happens. We'll grab coffee and sit down, and they're like, "Oh, huh. You're not what I expected. I thought it would be like…" In their head, they describe something almost like I would be giving them a sermon while we're getting coffee. Like, "Oh yeah. Take a drink. So then I tell my son… Oh, and Jesus…he's got you." It's like, "Nope. Nope. Just getting a drink of coffee." Sometimes it's better; sometimes it's worse. It's just "You're not what I expected."
One of the things that I think, tragically, is the case for a lot of people is if they actually encountered Jesus, they would have a moment where they experienced "You're not what I expected. You're better." For whatever reason… Maybe it's the way you got a bad perception of what God is like through your home, your family, your church, your experience, just life. I think in this story, all of us can see, "Oh man. Whatever I expected, Jesus, you're better." We can see it, frankly, from how he heals this man.
The third idea I want to highlight is Christ's compassion toward us and do it by looking at the compassion he has toward this man. What moved Jesus, unlike the crowd who backed away, to move toward the man? Mark in his gospel, because this story is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke… In Mark, chapter 1, it records the same story, and he tells us what moved Jesus.
It says, "A man came with leprosy and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. 'If you're willing, you can heal me.' Moved by compassion, he stretched out his hand and touched the man." What does Jesus feel toward physically sick people? Compassion. What does Jesus feel toward spiritually sick people? Compassion. If you've been running or you feel like you have put yourself beyond the length of what… If God is there, what he thinks about you is disappointment, anger. "I just wish you would try a little harder."
Do you know what God feels when you look in his direction? No matter how caught up in whatever it is…compassion. I want you to look at what he does, because he does something really interesting out of that move from compassion. He reaches out and touches the man. In Leviticus, chapter 5, he tells us that any person who touches a leper becomes unclean. It was against the law for the leper to be there, and it was also against the law for Jesus to touch him.
Why would he touch him? How long had it been since he had had a person touch him? The Greek word there is hapto. It's a word for seizing or hugging. How long had it been? Years? Months? A decade? We're told in Luke that this man was full of leprosy. It had been going on for a long time. Psychologists even tell us having no physical contact does something to the brain. It'll make a person go crazy, because we were made for physical touch.
Jesus reaches out and touches this man. Here's what I want to ask: Why? Well, maybe you think, "He had to in order to heal him." Nope. Why do I say that? Because the very next story, he heals a man with just a word. I don't mean down the road; I mean verse 5. This story happens in verses 1-4. Chapter 8, verse 5, which is right after verse 4…
When a centurion came forward to Jesus, appealing, "My servant is lying at home. He's paralyzed, suffering terribly," Jesus said, "I'll come heal him." The centurion (which is a Roman soldier) said, "Lord, I'm not worthy to have you underneath my roof. Say the word and he will be healed." And Jesus said, "Let it be done for you as you have believed." He didn't need to touch him to heal him.
Why would he touch him? Because he wanted to, because he loved him. He moved toward a man who everyone, for as long as he had leprosy, moved back from, but this is what our God does to those who are spiritually sick. He moves out, and he reaches out, and I think with a smile on his face, shocking the crowds, touched him, just because he wanted to, just because he was moved by the thing that moves our God: compassion.
My daughter was in my lap about a month ago at a T-ball game. We're watching my son, and he's playing T-ball. She's sitting there, and she's kind of being squirmy. If you've ever had a kid who's playing T-ball, it's the best. It is amazing. You're sitting there. You're filming everything, because that's just what you do in 2021 when you're a dad. You're sitting there, and you're filming it. He's up to the plate, and you're like, "Yeah, you've got him, slugger!" He's missing the tee, and you're like, "It's all right. Now you know what he's throwing. You've got it!"
I'm just sitting there recording him, and all of a sudden, as I'm holding her (she's about 2-1/2) I hear this gagging and then a shriek from a woman. "Oh no!" My daughter had begun to throw up all over my shoulder. It wasn't just any throw up. This was probably the most shocking experience of throw up I've ever had, where you're like, "You're only two feet tall. How did that much…?" It just kept… "Let the river flow!" It was just going and going and going.
I mean, whatever you're thinking, if you're thinking, "Oh, I bet you're just playing that up," no. It was shocking to the point where a total stranger came up and gave me his shirt. I'm not kidding at all. He was like, "You need this more than I do." I tried to decline it, and he was insistent. "Take the shirt." It was shocking. So I get her, and I'm like, "All right. No more T-ball game. We're going to go home. Our son can go home with Mom."
I get her, and I take her in the car. She'd never thrown up before, so you could tell she's like, "What is happening?" She's clearly sick. It kind of was heartbreaking, because all the way home… I unbuckle her from her car seat because the car seat is kind of leaned back, and she's still throwing up. I take her home, and I am holding her hand the whole way there. I put her in the bath and try to clean her up.
Do you know what was going through my head if I'm being honest? "Oh man! I do not want to get this sickness." It just doesn't look fun. Let's be honest. "Oh, is there a way…?" Even when I'm trying to change my shirt, I'm like holding my breath and going under. If I was honest, there's a self-protective instinct, like, "I want to clean you but also not get infected by you." Our God is not like that. He doesn't have a self-protective bone in his body, if you will. He moves toward broken, sinful, sick people.
The message of Christianity has always been not that you clean yourself up but that the God who is there is moved by compassion. He comes to people who are covered in shame and covered in guilt and says, "Give me your shame. Give me the past abortion you never told anybody about. Give me the affair you have never been honest with your spouse that you had. Give me all the different brokenness in your life. Give it to me. I will take it, and I'll take it on me, and I will pay for it on the cross." This is our God.
He has no self-protection. He says, "I will take it, and I will even on the cross take on all the consequence or pain or judgment you deserve. I can cure you. I alone can cure you." Too many people have thought this notion of God out there who's distant, who's not full of compassion but full of anger, who looks at them with anything but love.
Just like a father… As imperfect as an earthly father is, I'm still going to care for my daughter. He's a Father who comes in, and he feels compassion toward sinfully sick or spiritually sick people. "Give me whatever you're carrying, the sin you're caught up in. I feel compassion toward you. I could cure you, and I'm willing if you'll bring that to me."
If you're willing to decide something maybe you never have before… "God, I recognize I am infected with a curse, and I can try to manage it on my own, but I'll never be good enough. I believe you can heal me. You can give me eternal life. You came to die for me, and I accept your death was payment for my sin on the cross. I believe that." And you are willing. You are going to discover he is willing, because that's who he is.
I want to close by pointing out the curse of sin is what infects us, Christ alone can cure us, and Christ's compassion moves him toward us. Highlighting just one more aspect of the story. Remember how it started? It says Jesus came down the mountain. How fitting in a world that says what every major world religion other than Christianity says, which is, "You need to earn your way up the mountain to God. You have not done enough to earn God's love. God is out there. He's disappointed, and unless your good deeds are more than your bad, you will never have a relationship with God. You will not get up the mountain." It's everywhere.
There are a lot of Christians who think that's what Christianity teaches. They bought a lie. The message of Christianity is our God comes down the mountain, because he knows you and I could never reach, climb, or get there on our own, but we don't have to, because he's the God who comes down the mountain. He came down for you when he came on a cross and gave his life. This is the message we now take and go and share with everyone.
There is a sickness that infects humanity. All of the problems in our world are traced to that. It's called sin. But there's a cure. His name is Christ. Out of compassion, he comes down the mountain and touches just because he wants to. I don't know what you're walking through, but if you encounter God, you'll experience "He's not what I expected; he's better," and you'll never be the same. Let me pray.
Father, I thank you that you came down the mountain for sin-filled, broken people like me. I pray for anyone in this room who has never trusted in you that today would be their day, that they would come, like this man did, to the end of themselves. There is no other option. There is no other way. There's no other person who can give us eternal life, who can restore all the brokenness in our lives.
And they'd encounter compassion, or said another way, they'd encounter you, and they would trust in you. Would the simple message of the gospel penetrate more deeply into parts and spaces of our hearts that need to be reminded. Start with me, God, of how I am a leper, but my God is compassionate. He heals, he saves, and I get to now share and tell everyone I know about that. In Christ's name, amen.