Hope for the Hopeless Part 1

Matthew 8:1-4 Hope for Those Who Struggle in Sin.


Thursday morning – I had to go to the Endodontist for a Root Canal

A) Trauma as a kid had affected one of my front teeth – causing a problem that I had waited a year to take care of.


B) See I had a root canal when I was a kid and all I remember was it really hurt

1) So I wasn’t looking forward to this and I put it off as long as possible because – When it comes to the Dentist I am a wimp


C) So I arrive at the office – at 9am sharp – Greeted by the receptionist – Good morning – are you ready to have some fun. – I guess so –

1) Inside I am thinking – Lady you are way too excited about this procedure – something is wrong with this woman


D) She leads me back to the Chair -  get comfortable – yea right – Doc will be here in a minute -  He comes and he is just as perky –

1) Good morning – ready to get started – this is going to be great  - I wanted to run right there - 

2) These pp are sick – Wouldn’t hurt if I waited another year would it.


E) Well it ended up being a great experience – No pain – he did a great job – even called me later that night at home just to see how I was doing – really great.

But as I sat there in the Chair – this thought came to my mind. –

A) These pp are really excited about what they are doing – I know it had way more to do with than the 1000k this was costing me.


B) I could tell they really enjoyed taking care of pp with teeth problems

1) They were confident in the technology – They were skilled – they knew that what they were doing would work – It would fix the problem


C) That is when it hit me! – Wow ! We in the Church should be just as excited to do what we are called to do in this hurting world.

1) Bring Hope to the hopeless



D) We are surrounded by pp with problems – pp who are in need of Hope

1) We know the answer – Jesus – Proven tools – Word and the Spirit


Today we are starting a series of messages – taken from Matthew’s Gospel called hope for the Hopeless

A) Matthew on Sunday nites – here on Sunday mornings we are going to look at some things in depth here  -  This series – Hope for Hopeless


Hope for those struggling in Sin

Hope for those who are going through storms

Hope for those who have exhausted all their options.

Hope for those who have been crippled by life.

Today we are starting with Hope for those who are struggling in Sin – Read v.1-4


Now right away you might be thinking why did you title this message{ Hope for those who are struggling in Sin? 

A) This story is about a man who was infected with the deadly disease of Leprosy


B) Leprosy was the aids virus of the 1st century – a deadly incurable disease – infected many


C) The Talmud  (the written record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish laws, ethics, customs and history) referred to lepers as the walking dead.

1) Because there was no cure. So in those days it was considered a death sentence from God.


D) The rabbis called leprosy the ‘finger of God.’

1) They believed that when someone contracted leprosy they were being judged by God for sin.


                   Barclay tells us the affects

The nodules grow larger and larger.  They ulcerate.  From them there comes a foul discharge.  The eyebrows fall out, the eyes become staring.  The voice becomes hoarse and the victim wheezes because of the ulceration of the vocal chords.  The hands and feet always ulcerate.  Slowly the sufferer becomes a mass of ulcerated growths. 


The average course of the disease is nine years, and it ends in mental decay, coma, and ultimately death.  The sufferer becomes utterly repulsive both to himself and to others."


E)Dr Luke 5 – Tells us he was full of Leprosy – Really bad advanced stages


So Yes this is a story about a man who was cleansed of Leprosy!

But the affects of Leprosy are strikingly similar to the affects of Sin!

A) Interesting, Bible talks about Leprosy, it is always the idea of being cleansed – not healed.


1.The disease would often start with a hard spot.

A) And that is just how sin starts in our lives - with some hardening.


B) Resistant to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

1) The Holy Spirit comes and convicts us concerning that particular fire that we are playing with or getting too close to.


C) We ignore that voice. 


2. Leprosy starts small but spreads{ takes over the whole body –

A) Sin can have a very small beginning a little { starts with a thought or an attitude – a little compromise – but it will grow

B) Left alone – it will seek to take over.


C) Read a story about a French Diplomat in the 1970’s – who kept a strange pet in his home: a two-year-old lion. 

1)Started out as a little cub but like every lion it grew


D)At night he would lock it in the Bathroom to sleep – Well, one night the Lion, now almost full grown decided “ I am tired of the bathroom …mauled


E) That is what sin so often does - starts off small like that little lion cub/ seems innocent-  maybe playful

1) but it grows / ultimately destroys a person- mauls a person


3. A third way that Leprosy is like sin is in the advanced stages a person would become desensitized to feeling.

A) A Leper could touch something hot burn flesh not even know it


Leper colonies – common rats gnaw on feet while sleep – unaware


B) Sin works in the same way: The longer a person resist the conviction of the Holy Spirit – they become desensitized to their sin

1) No longer feels wrong – Paul refers to it in Ephesians 4:18,19  they become past feeling


C)1 Timothy 4:2 { Conscience seared – Cauterized – deaden with a hot iron

4. Leprosy affected a person’s relationship with others and their ability to worship.

A) The description of the diagnosis of this disease is given in great detail in Leviticus 13.


B) They were VERY CAREFUL to diagnose a blemish as leprosy. 

 1) BECAUSE leprosy, for all intents and purposes, ENDED your life.


C) You would be put out of your family.

    1) You could never again be around your spouse.

    2) You could never again be around your children or parents.


D) Ostracized from Society{ Always keep a distance of 6 ft  and if standing down wind 100ft

1)Yell Unclean Unclean – announce -   BO / Bad Breath / Lust


You could never again be around the temple.

A) You could never again be around worship.


B) You could could never again work and earn a living.


C)That is exactly what sin does to people pp who are struggling with Sin – often they feel like they have been ostricized from God and from others


Amazing how the devil plays with our minds – start thinking – everybody is looking at me funny – talking about me.

A) There is this incredible sense of shame


B) Sin exposes us! – Adam and Eve naked – no idea until sin

1) Naked and ashamed

C) We can also feel like the last person we can come to is God.


D) Sin causes a sense of loneliness – The Devil’s strategy, isolate

1) Bars are filled with Lonely pp trying to forget their Loneliness


E) Seen people who have blown it – end up going down this awful road

Feel unworthy to even be in fellowship


Often in Jesus’ day a leper would see that spot coming and he would keep it covered

A) Sometimes for a month, for a year, for two years, even though he knew that it would finally become obvious to everyone.


B) Hedid this because he knew that the day that it was seen that he was cast outside the camp.



C)Maybe you’re feeling like, “I’m hiding this. I hope it doesn’t come out.”

1) Maybe you’re thinking, “I have this constant anger. This is constant bitterness or this constant lust, this constant problem


D) The devil is starting to get you to think that there is no hope for you.


See what we can learn from our friend the Leper here in Matthew 8

1. He breaks all the rules – in coming to Jesus.  


A) He was desperate – so he wasn’t thinking about rules – he was not thinking about consequences –


B) Rush Amy to the Doctor – breathing - not thinking about tickets


C) Here is what is interesting to me though – Luke says he was full of Leprosy – advanced stages – it was noticeable – pp could tell – but no one notices him – and there is no record that he covered himself up -  Why didn’t they notice him


D) Because the Multitude was focused on Jesus


E) What a great picture that is for us – when we are focused on Jesus – we don’t see the flaws in each other



Notice how He comes to Jesus? 

Mark and Luke tell us He fell down

Matthew says He came worshipping.

A) He comes in Humility acknowledging the Sovereignty of Jesus


B) Matthew seeks to present Jesus as the King !


C) Victory over sin starts with a heart that is willing to be submitted to the Will of Jesus

1) Have to denounce self from the throne


D) Attitude that says Lord I am tired of living to please myself!

1) See all it has caused is pain and misery


What He says to Jesus is intriguing to me! Lord if you are willing you can make me clean

A) This man did not question Jesus ability – He was wondering about His willingness.


B) Boy I have struggled in that same way before -Lord I know that you are able to help me – but are you willing -


C) Maybe you’re thinking, “I have this constant anger. This is constant bitterness or this constant lust, this constant problem.

1)I need to be cleansed.   -  But is He really willing.

    Is He really willing to touch me?”


D)“Wouldn’t it be easier for Him to just cast me off and have nothing to do with me?”

1) Maybe you’re a Christian who thinks, “I’ve been wrestling with this so long.

Is He willing to put up with me one more time as I come with the same thing?”


INTERESTING: Wuest’s Translation of the New Testament reads his statement as, “Lord, if you have a heart felt desire.’


That’s what the word ‘will’ means there.


THAT is what he NEEDS to know about this Jesus - Is it in the heart of this Jesus to cleanse a man such as me!


When Jesus says, “I am  willing , be cleansed ,” its literally -  ‘I desire it with all of my heart.’


That is His heart today:

A) The thing he desired with all His heart – Cleanse Sinners


B) That is why he went to the Cross


Matthew tells us Jesus touched this man – Literally he fastened himself to the guy

It wasn’t a – tip of my finger thing – it was – grabbing a hold of the guy


Listen,Jesus was willing then and He is willing today.

A)The rabbi’s taught that Leprosy was a punishment from God – but here the hand of God was right in front of this man – reaching out not to judge but to cleanse.


Jesus touched him saying I am willing, be cleansed.


Isn’t that the question? Because we think He loves with a human love.


KEY OBSERVATION: This guy says if you’re willing. You are able to do this.


Listen, Jesus was willing then and He is willing Now!


If you’re not a believer - that’s very important.


Because you see - You NEED to be cleansed of sin, not merely have something fixed!


The leper needed MORE than new fingers - he needed to be cleansed of the thing that was destroying him!


So too - You need a supernatural touch upon your life.


No priest can do it for you. No pastor can do it for you.


You need to be cleansed of this thing called sin


This thing that starts so slowly in our lives and ultimately erupts and comes to the surface.


This thing that destroys life, destroys families.


This thing that will ultimately bring eternal judgment upon you!


THAT is HOW you get saved….  JESUS TOUCHES and CLEANSES you from your sin.


KEY INSIGHT: Now what we have here is a reversal of Levitical law.


Levitical law says that when you touch a leper you become unclean.


Heaven does it a different way….. When Jesus touches the leper the leper becomes clean….Jesus doesn’t become contaminated.


So Jesus touches him and it says that immediately he was cleansed.


Jesus fastened Himself to a Cross in order to touch us –

A) Took our Sin -  Gave us His righteousness.


B) You today – He is willing ! – Struggle –



One Last thing: Go to the Priest – tell Know one!

A)God laid out in Leviticus 14 specific instructions that the priest were to follow when a Leper was cleansed.


B) Jesus even says in Luke 4:27 that in the days of Elijah there were many lepers in Israel but none of them were cleansed except Naaman of Syrian. 


The only record in the Bible of an Israelite being cleansed from leprosy was Miriam, before the law concerning leprosy was prescribed.


In the wilderness journey in Numbers she is cleansed of leprosy in an instant.


But there is no record anywhere in history that lepers were cleansed in Israel.


KEY POINT: That means something very significant.


That means that Leviticus 14 was written for Caiaphus.


This man had to go show himself to Caiaphus and Annas the priests.


Then they had to examine him.  Fulfillment of Scripture was met in Jesus


Tells us two things: #1 When a Leper was cleansed it was to be obvious

Inspection was appropriate


So too, when a sinner is cleansed – the results should be obvious – life marked by a change


#2 It meant that Jesus loved Caiphus and Anaias

Jesus loved Annas and Caiaphus.


Jesus LOVED the men who would ultimately turn Him over to Pilate.


The door was still open for them at that point in time.


Jesus was sending a message to the religious center of Israel.


That message was that lepers were being touched and cleansed in their nation by the Messiah.


KEY APPLICATION: And you see that’s the message that we are supposed to take to the nation that we live in, through lives TOUCHED… CLEANSED and TRANSFORMED by Jesus