The hot dry sun   radiated a blistering heat off the roughly-fitted cobblestone roadway. It was early afternoon, and the city's marketplace was a hive of activity. Merchants had their goods on display. They called softly to passersby exhorting them to purchase their goods. Mothers held tightly to excited children that pulled them from vender to vender. Friends were visit­ing with friends as they purchased the day's food.

The old man hobbled stiffly on the hot stones as he approached the city’s hub of market-activity. Sweat poured from his body from the exertion. His body, even in the heat was covered with old rags. A gray, soiled rag covered his nose and mouth. Suddenly someone noticed the approach of the old man, and heard his heart-wrenching, agonizing cry:

            “Unclean!”      “Unclean!”  

A woman shrieked,

“Its a leper! Make way! Make way!” There was a scurrying of footsteps. The marketplace that had been so busy became deserted: empty. The leper stood alone. But then he looked across the marketplace and saw a single man who did not run from his steady advance.


Standing there alone in the marketplace, he saw Jesus looking at him unafraid! He ran and fell at Jesus’ feet and worshipped Him. Keep in mind, he was a leper: a vile, untouchable, unclean, contemptible leper!

Hansen’s Disease

There are over 33,000 lepers in the United States today. In this country the disease seems to be on the rise. Did you know Leprosy is caused by a germ:

Myco-bacterium Leprae. Medically described in 1874 by a man named H. Hansen. It’s called today, Hansen’s disease!

WHEN we use the word, Leprosy, it conjures up exaggerated images of stubby fingers, ulcerated wounds, missing legs, distorted facial features. In the ancient world the word,

leprosy, conjured deep-seated emotional reactions in superstitious people!

            HANSEN'S DISEASE, our modern name for leprosy is not at all like other diseases. The tiny bacteria that cause the dreaded disease invade the upper layers of skin. They attack the nerve endings, particularly the cells that register pain. Think of Hansen’s disease as an anesthetic, numbing the pain cells of the hands, feet, nose, ears and eyes. Hansen’s is in reality a painless disease. For thousands of years people thought Hansen’s disease caused flesh to rot and limbs to decay.

THAT’S NOT SO! Hansen’s disease is chiefly anesthetic. It destroys only indirectly.   

How Leprosy Deforms

Dr. Paul Brand, a Christian Medical Doctor who ministers to lepers in India tells us how he discovered this early in his medical practice:

He tried to open the door of a little storeroom, but a rusty padlock would not yield.’’ A Hansen's patientan undersized, malnourished ten-year-old——approached him smiling.

‘Let me try, sahib doctor,’ he offered and reached for the key. With a quick jerk of his hand he turned the key in the lock. BRAND WAS DUMBFOUNDED!

How could this weak, youngster out-exert him? His eyes caught a telltale clue. Was that a drop of blood on the floor? Upon examining the boy's fingers, Brand discovered the act of turning the key had gashed a finger open to the bone; skin, fat, and joint were all exposed. YET THE BOY WAS COMPLETELY UNAWARE OF IT! To the boy the act of cutting his finger to the bone had no more sensation than picking up a stone or turning a coin in your pocket. It’s the daily routines of life that take away the leper’s hands and feet. Their pain warning system no longer alerted them to pain.

Leprosy is the perfect outward picture of what willful, deliberate sin does to us inwardly.


September 9, 2007 – Sheepfold Ministries

Pastor Phil Roland


MARK 1:40-45

"We have trouble touching lepers. We are repulsed by society’s outcasts. Jesus

didn’t have that problem. Neither should we.”                            Pastor Phil Roland


Four inherent dangers in touching lepers:

1. Leprosy (Sin) can get under your skin

2. Leprosy (Sin) can numb your senses

3. Leprosy (Sin) can make you an outcast

4. Leprosy (Sin) can deform you

Four Things Jesus Did in the Presence of Lepers:


“Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean. “Then Jesus, moved with compassion. . .”

            A. Compassion = Greek, “Splachniszomai”  (KJV, “Bowels” – Guts)

            B. “Strictly Warned” – Greek, “Pareggeilen” (snorting of a horse)

                        1. Jesus before Lazarus’ Tomb – John 11:38

                        “Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave,

and a stone lay against it.”

2. Same word denoting strong emotion 

II. JESUS REACHED OUT AND TOUCHED – Mark 1:41b; Matt. 8:43

“Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed."  “Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”

            A. Laws of Leprosy and Defilement - Leviticus 13/14

          B. Risked taking on the disease


          A. If You are willing. . .”If it be thy will. . .” Prayers that slander God

            B. One thing God is not willing for – 2 Peter 3:9

            “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is

longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should

come to repentance.


          A. Four things Jesus did to heal the leper:

                        1. He empathized with him, feeling and using His emotions

                        2. He actually touched him, breaking Levitical taboo and order

                        3. He willed to have him healed; He was willing to heal him

                        4. He spoke through faith the healing into existence

            B. The Power of Restoration




MARK 1:40-45

Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean."

41  Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed."

42  As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.

43  And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once,

44  and said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

45  However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.


Matthew 8:1-4

When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.

2  And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."

3  Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

4  And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

Contemporary Lepers

1.  Social Lepers

          a. Minorities

          b. Convicted Felons

          c. Divorced people

          d. Aborted Infants

          e. Substance Abusers in all stages of disease

2. Personal Lepers

          a. Enemies – People we openly hate.

          b. People who cause us pain and inconvenience

          c. People who fail to live up to our expectations

          d. People who we see as uncontrollable

3. Church Lepers

          a. High Maintenance People: chronic sickness, high

strung, needy, don’t smell very good, unkempt

people who take more than they give

          b. Backsliders, apostates

          c. Obnoxious people that ridicule as you present the


          d. Gossips

          e. “Wanna-be” leaders who can’t lead and attract no


          f. Fallen leaders who have failed the test of power, sex or







The substance abuse leper

Several years ago, a young man came to see me. He had dissipated away his life with drugs and alcohol.  Man promises were made over the years  to himself, his wife and family. Each week he would make a new resolution to change, and each week he would fall into the ruts of the previous weeks.

FINALLY, he lost his job from his substance abuse induced inepti­tude. One day when he came home from a long night of boozing his wife and two kids were gone. He knocked on my door. I listened to his pain. I heard the fear and the loneliness. Hearing his anguish, I saw his tears of regret.

        Then, I asked him if he could use a friend that would never let him down. Could he use a friend that would accept him totally, and would completely cleanse his guilt and shame? He nodded affirmatively. We knelt and prayed in my study. The repentant tears streamed down his face and splashed on my carpet. 

I held his hands as he confessed his sins to God, and wept away his guilt. He asked God's forgiveness and invited Jesus into his life. He became quiet. His body began to shake. It was his longing to be pure and clean again. It was his desire to be touched by the purifying, transforming, changing power of the risen Jesus Christ. It happened for his that very day.


He always touches lepers!!!





Why God Wouldn't Want Us
“Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.”                                                                        Acts 10:34-35
Moses stuttered.

David's armor didn't fit.

Jacob was a liar.

David had an affair.

Abraham and Moses were too old.

David was too young.

Timothy had ulcers.

Peter was afraid.

Naomi was a widow.

Paul was a murderer.

So was Moses.

Jonah ran from God.

Miriam was a gossip.

Gideon and Thomas both doubted.
Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal.

Elijah was burned out. 

John the Baptist was a loudmouth.

Martha was a worrywart. 

Mary was lazy.

Samson had long hair.

Noah got drunk.

          Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse? So did Peter, Paul, well, lots of folks do. But God doesn't require a job interview. He doesn't “hire and fire” like most bosses.

God doesn't look at financial gain or loss. He's not prejudiced or partial, grudging, sassy, or brassy, not deaf to our cry, not blind to our need.

As much as we try, God's gifts are free. We could do some wonderful things for wonderful people and still not be. . .wonderful. Satan says, "You're not worthy." Jesus says, "So what? I AM." Satan looks back and sees our mistakes. God looks back and sees the cross. He doesn't calculate what you did in '78, ’88 or ’98. It's not even on the record.

Sure. There are lots of reasons why God shouldn't want us.  But if we are in love with Him, if we hunger for Him more than our next breath, He'll use us. . .in spite of who we are, where we've been, or what we look like.