The Hands of Jesus

Loving the Unloved  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God is willing to touch and heal people society casts aside. I will be the hands of Jesus to people society casts aside.


The Hands of Jesus


Welcome, everyone! And Happy Father’s Day!
It’s going to be a great day, and we’re glad you’re here, glad you’re worshipping with us!
Let me say that I’m thankful for my dad, and also, I’m one proud, proud dad today!


Mark 1:40–41 KJV 1900
40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

Lesson Connection

I want to talk to you a minute about a woman who had seven demons living in her.
We don’t know where she lived or if she even had a home. We don’t know whether she normally huddled in the doorway of a local tavern, or if she kept clear and out of sight of society. She was miserable. She, likely, heard voices in her head or experienced sleepless nights with thoughts of self-harm or violence. If we could go back in time, we would not be surprised to see an unkempt, wild-eyed woman, talking to herself and snapping at those who came near.
Although she’s mentioned in all four Gospels, we don’t see any specific details of Jesus’ first encounter with Mary from Magdala. The Bible just says this:
Luke 8:1–2 NKJV
1 Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, 2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,
So, I just want to make clear… at some point, Jesus cast seven devils out of Mary.
Her life must have been a mess before Jesus came. We only find just a few instances in Scripture where anyone had more demons than Mary.
…but then Jesus touched her!!!
Mary is just a classic example of how dramatically Jesus can change a life! She went from being a devil-possessed, socially unstable outcast to being a Bible hero! In fact, she’s mentioned twelve times in the Gospels, which is more than most of the disciples or other nonfamily women in Jesus’ life. She travelled with Jesus and was there at the Cross and at the burial. Not many people had that privilege.
But maybe the greatest honor of her life was being the first person Jesus appeared to after His resurrection. Having gone to His tomb with the other women on the morning Jesus rose, Mary and the others found the tomb empty. They went to tell the disciples. And Evidently… Mary hung back in the garden alone at some point in the morning because three of the Gospels tell us she spoke with Jesus, thinking He was the gardener. And then she recognized His voice and she was overwhelmed with emotion.
And I just wonder if perhaps… Mary was more passionate toward Jesus because He had shown her such great mercy… by touching her life when she was untouchable!
Oh, aren’t you thankful that Jesus will reach out and touch you… when no one else will have anything to do with you!

The Old Testament Law Required Lepers Be Separated From Society

One of the oldest known groups of outcasts in society are lepers.
Before any sort of medical treatments were available, lepers were required to stay separate from all other people. Now, this wasn’t just that there was a prejudice or discrimination - it was based on a biblical mandate:
Leviticus 13:42–46 NKJV
42 And if there is on the bald head or bald forehead a reddish-white sore, it is leprosy breaking out on his bald head or his bald forehead. 43 Then the priest shall examine it; and indeed if the swelling of the sore is reddish-white on his bald head or on his bald forehead, as the appearance of leprosy on the skin of the body, 44 he is a leprous man. He is unclean. The priest shall surely pronounce him unclean; his sore is on his head. 45 “Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.

Lepers Were Considered Unclean

So, considering lepers unclean was understandable. Mosaic law said they were unclean; their skin disease could potentially infect others. This uncleanness was a medical issue, not an issue of the person’s worth or value.
The contagious disease was the concern, so the quarantine was not designed to devalue the person who had leprosy.
But, people are very often defined by things that are publicly observed in their lives.
A person who is just really shy can sometimes be labelled as being socially challenged. (Some people are just introverted!)
There are some who make one or two bad choices in life, and from there, many around them only see them through the lens of those choices.
It’s not wrong to be aware of the challenges some people have; it’s not wrong too set boundaries when it comes to unhealthy relationships. But it IS wrong to discard people who have these issues or to regard them as irredeemable.

Lepers Lived Alone Outside the Camp

I mentioned earlier that Leviticus instructed that the lepers were to stay away from the rest of the population and live outside the camp. Because of that, leper “colonies” were springing up around and from there, they have existed in many cultures throughout time.
Again, while there were totally understandable medical reasons for this that made sense, the emotional destruction that came was enormous.
So here’s a side point… people who’s lives have went through the ringer of the world or have lived in sin… when we come in contact with them or they come here… they already feel bad and embarrassed enough without a saint with a rotten attitude making them feel worse.
At the same time, we don’t want to enable and put the stamp of approval on sin.
So, we have to hate the sin while loving the sinner.
It’s a balance, for sure. But there are times when you’re pulling someone out of the fire that you’re going to get a little smoke on you.
I remember mom telling about Grandma Anna Cooper picking up someone and taking them to church, and they smoked on the way in their car...
But also, there are sometimes that we need some Apostolics who are willing to take a stand when it’s time!
You know, we can say that drugs are a problem, pornography is a problem, lack of commitment or lack of responsibility… but do you know what the cause of much of it is in our world? …fatherlessness.
We need some dads who will take a stand in their home. On their job. For their family. For their kids! And say, “We’re not going to have this in this household because it’s displeasing to God!” And be the priest in their home! And we need some moms and ladies who will support them for standing up for what’s right and tackling what’s wrong.

Lepers Cried Out, “Unclean”

Think about how this would feel if you were a leper… you would be required to cry out “Unclean!” to anyone passing close by. Had to be humiliating and hopeless.
When a person is defined to everyone as “unclean” or “undesirable”, it can have horrible consequences on them. There are stories all around us...
A man who feels stupid because he was told as much and was emotionally destroyed as a child.
A teenager who threatens to take her life because she feels invisible.
A quiet woman lives on the street, never having tried in life, after being bullied throughout her childhood.
Many will overlook people like this.

God’s Love Extends to Those Who Are Unclean

But God is not like everyone else, and neither are His people.
Listen to what 1 Peter 4:8 instructs us:
1 Peter 4:8 NKJV
8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
Love makes a way for people who don’t have one. It will rescue people from the “leper colonies” of sin, abuse, abandonment, and wrong choices.
I remember once seeing Ryan O’Neill in an altar at HYC. There was a homeless man who can into service right off of the street and went to the altar. Ryan prayed him through to the Holy Ghost and I watched him hug the man afterwards, holding him tightly and thanking God for another soul. Imagine the love that this homeless man felt.

We Must Show God’s Love to People Considered Unclean

The apostle Paul described love in 1 Corinthians 13. I want you to notice how the actions of love that he mentions relate to others:
1 Corinthians 13:4–7 NKJV
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Listen to me: love believes the best of people.
And yes, there are some who will take advantage of the love you show. But if that worry is what’s stopping you from showing love… you’re not doing it right.

God Is Willing to Touch and Heal People Society Casts Aside

We know that Jesus was God manifest in the flesh. God inserted Himself into our world so He could demonstrate how we should live. And of course, this is where the saying came from: What Would Jesus Do?
You know, I don’t know if Jesus would be on Facebook and Instagram or not. But if he was, would he posts what I post? Would he be alright with watching the videos I watch or following the things I follow? Hello?
Both Jesus AND the writers of the new testament encouraged us to live like Him. To walk like Him. And so, because of this, we should therefore take note that Jesus was known for - even criticized for - associating with sinners and social outcasts!
Jesus was not even afraid of going beyond the law and touching the lepers.
Mark 1:40–45 KJV 1900
40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. 42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. 43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; 44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.

The Leper Begged Jesus to Be Made Clean

When the leper came to Jesus, he begged to be healed.
And more significantly, he made this faith-filled statement: “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (Mark 1:40). Now, what that implies is that he had either seen Jesus do miracles or someone had told him about Jesus’ ministry. But either way, it’s important to understand that God does not heal everyone.
Many times He waits for people who need help to express their faith to Him… then He acts!!!
And THAT is why many churches give opportunity for people to make public statements of faith or encourage people to step out of their seats and walk down to an altar where they can express their faith in God.
The fact is… if you want to see God do a work, you’re not going to get by with doing nothing.
What does the Mark chapter 16 say? “These signs shall automatically come about while you stand by waiting for it?” No, no! “These signs shall follow them that believe!” And if the signs are following someone, that means that the person has to be MOVING!!!
SO… if you don’t want to see a revival or a unique work from the Lord, I’m going to tell you how you can have that: You can come into church… and you can SIT DOWN, with your ARMS FOLDED, your LEGS CROSSED, your TIE TIGHT, your LIP ZIPPED, and your SOUL UNTOUCHED.
And that will do it well, my friend.
But… if you want to see the Lord move like we know He can… pride goes out the window… AND YOU START TO MOVE!
Don’t tell me that Apostolic worship isn’t the way to the heart of God… it’s disruptive to some… BUT IT GET’S THE ATTENTION OF GOD!!! “LORD, I’M UNCLEAN! I’M NOT RIGHT! BUT IF YOU WILL, I KNOW YOU CAN MAKE ME CLEAN!!!”
You’ve got to have action on your part. And that’s why we believe in altar calls. It’s time to meet God. It’s not that God can’t do a miracle in the pew. We’ve seen Him do that too! It’s about taking a step! It’s about showing God: “I’ve got faith, and I’m approaching You with it, Lord!”
Here’s a question to ponder for awhile (and I hope that you’re still thinking on it over your Oscar Meyer bologna and cheese sandwich later): “Am I merely a receiver… or am I a producer?”

Jesus Was Moved with Compassion

Now, listen!
The Book of Mark tells us that when this outcast called out to Jesus, He was moved with compassion.
We face a major challenge in our media-rich world. Advertisers, news-spinners, and social activists are constantly pulling on our heartstrings. And because of that, our emotions can be dulled toward those who are truly needy or less fortunate.
Come on, you know what I’m talking about. Everything is designed to get a rise out of you. News headlines made for emotion. Viral Facebook posts that have forty-twelve million views and have you either crying so hard you’re halfway through the Kleenex box or so mad you’re ready to get after some poor soul with a two by four. Uh-huh. You know what I mean. And then, “Give to this, because they got this going on over in this nation.” And then after all of that, your cousin posts a go-fund-me account for their vacation trip.
I’m talking about being “compassioned-out.” So many hyped-up and emotionally charged pushes surround us that it’s tempting to turn off our compassion. We can feel as if we have actually RUN OUT of compassion. When you’re there, we’ve go to learn to be moved with God’s compassion, on behalf of the people God wants to touch.

Jesus Touched the Leper and Healed Him

Mark 1:41 tells that Jesus was so moved with compassion that He did the unthinkable… he touched the unclean leper.
And Jesus didn’t do so carelessly. He touched the man for the purpose of healing him.
There was a missionary to Ethiopia who, when she first arrived in the country, she and her family were not immediately received by the people of the general population. And so, they began to minister to a leper community. She would explain to you today what a challenge it was to go to the leper colony with her children. But God used those efforts to begin an awesome work in Ethiopia.
And today... there may be more Jesus name, Holy Ghost-filled believers in Ethiopia than there are in America. But someone had to be willing to go and touch the unclean!

Jesus Was Not Afraid of What Others Might Say About the Mercy He Showed to Outcasts

We’ve got to be ready to minister to anyone that God puts in our path. No matter how messed up their life may be. God looks on the heart. And that’s what He’s pulling on.
You might remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus. It’s found in Luke 15. Jesus told this story in such a way that many scholars believe it was a true story about two men who had lived near one another. And it teaches us the importance of obeying God despite what others do or how others treat certain people.
You know, the public opinion and peer pressure are powerful forces in not just young people, but adults also.
And I’m just going to tell you something… we ought to quit listening to what the word is around town about some person or family, or what’s the story on why this is going on with them… we need to avoid such conversation and instead hear what the Spirit is saying - IT’S REACHING OUT FOR THEM. Act on the Spirit, not on the whispers about their personal affairs, for heaven’s sake.
God is searching for men and women who are willing to do His work regardless of public opinion.

I Will Be the Hands of Jesus to People Society Casts Aside

The heart of the issue is this: how will we be the body of Christ on Earth? How will we reach out to those around us? God may want to use each of us to reach someone no one else is willing to reach.
Our job is not to calculate who we should reach out to. Our job is to be available to reach out and touch anyone God puts in our path.
We are privileged to be “blessing distributers” in a world where people are in desperate need of blessings. All we need to do is pay close attention to the Lord and His “little pushes” we get all the time, to touch people that our cruel world has shut out.

Internalizing the Message

Illustration: Show picture of man smoking beside church sign (credit: Nick MaHaney).
The caption: “One of our new converts, who received the Holy Ghost and was baptized a few weeks ago, taking a smoke by the church sign before service this morning.”
He didn’t share this with other pastors to make fun. He was showing everyone something powerful!
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