Title: How Does A Sinner Approach The Lord
In Order To Obtain Mercy?
Text: Matthew 8:2
Subject: The Healing of the Leper
Date: Sunday Evening - September 20, 1981
This is a solemn occasion. I am standing before you with this awesome responsibility - I must preach to you the Word of God. Nothing in all the world is more serious than that. And you who are setting before me have a great responsibility as well - If God the Holy Spirit is pleased to speak through me, you are going to hear a man preach the gospel of God’s free grace. That is a great privilege. But it is also a great responsibility. When you stand before God in the day of judgment, you will have to give an account of what you have heard. That is an awesome thought. You and I will give an account of every sermon we have heard. What is more, we will be required to give an account of every sermon we had opportunity to hear. Let me say a few things about this matter of preaching and hearing the gospel, which might impress your hearts with the solemnity of this occasion.
1. Every true sermon is a proclamation of the Word of God. Paul said to Timothy, “Preach the word!” Preaching is the faithful exposition of the word of God. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no life in them” (Isa. 8:20).
2. For another thing, all true preaching is Christ centered (1 Cor. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:5). Jesus Christ and him crucified is the foundation and essence of all gospel doctrine; and therefore he is the foundation, essence, and substance of all true preaching. Preaching, if it is true, biblical, and apostolic, exalts the person and Work of Christ.
3. Again, biblical preaching is plain, simple, forceful, and practical (1 Cor. 2:1-5). The true preacher addresses men where they are. Preaching, true, gospel preaching rises from personal experience. Sermons may be produced by much study. But messages are born from experience. The real preacher puts himself into the position of his hearers, and tries to answer the very questions they are asking.
4. And every true preacher carries a message sent from God (Rom. 10:15). The preacher is a man with a burden on his heart and a message in his soul. He must deliver the burden of the Word of the Lord. He must declare the message God has given him.
5. Once more, the preacher who is sent of God and declares the message of God will be successful. All true preaching gets results (2 Cor. 2:14-17; Isa. 55:11). The preacher’s success is not to be measured in worldly terms. His success is just this - He accomplishes the purpose of God.
Now, today, I believe, I have a message from God for you. I hope that God the Holy Spirit will give me power to declare it and that he will give you ears to receive it, for the glory of Christ. I want to be plain, practical, and forceful, as I try to persuade sinners to seek mercy at the hands of Christ Jesus. This is my subject - How Does A Sinner Approach The Lord In order To Obtain Mercy? You have my text in Matthew 8:2 - “Behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”
Our Lord had just finished his Sermon on the Mount. “The people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” When he came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed after him. And there was one man full of leprosy who made his way through the crowd. He came through the great mass of men, crying, “Unclean, unclean.” When he got to the Savior, he fell down at his feet and worshipped him, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” “And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean.” Here is an unclean leper seeking mercy from the hands of Christ. And he obtained mercy. The Lord made him whole. Oh, may this miracle be repeated today! Is there a man or woman in this place like the leper, unclean, hopeless, helpless, friendless, and alone? There is hope for you. If one has been made whole, why not another? Does God forgive sin; then why not my sin? Does God justify the ungodly; then why not me? Does Christ receive sinners; then why not me? Is there mercy with the Lord for the guilty; then why not for me? Did Christ die for sinners; then why not for me? Does God save the unrighteous; then why not me?
My friend, if you would obtain mercy, you must seek mercy like this poor leper - From the hands of Christ.
1. This man came to our Lord with a deep sense of his need.
2. This leper came to Christ in great humiliation.
3. This man came to the Lord in faith.
4. This man came to the Lord in total submission.
5. This man obtained mercy, and so may you.
I. My first point is this - THIS MAN CAME TO THE LORD WITH A DEEP SENSE OF HIS NEED.
We do not read anything else in the Bible about this history of this man. We do not know who his parents were, where he was from, how old he was, or what became of him. He seems to be set before us for one reason - He shows us how a sinner must come to the Lord, if he would have mercy. And the first thing is this - He must have a sense of his need.
A. You are all familiar with what leprosy is and what it represents.
Leprosy was a loathsome disease, common during the days of our Lord’s ministry. And it fitly represents the plague of sin with which sons of Adam are diseased. Mr. Thomson in his famous work, “The Land and the Book,” describes lepers in Israel like this: “The hair falls from the head and eyebrows. The nails loosen, decay, and drop off. Joint after joint of the fingers and toes shrink up and slowly fall away. The gums are absorbed, and the teeth disappear. The nose, the eyes, the tongue, and the palate are slowly consumed.” The leper is a loathsome, miserable, outcast creature. He is walking death.
1. Leprosy, like sin, is a loathsome, unclean disease.
2. Leprosy, like sin, was an incurable disease.
3. Leprosy, like sin, is a consuming disease.
4. Leprosy, like sin, is a sure forerunner of death.
B. The man in our text had a keen sense of his desperate need.
Here was a man whose body was covered from head to toe with leprosy. His disease was always before him. There was no hiding it. His body was covered with ulcers oozing with a liquid of sickening smell. His body was racked with pain. Luke tells us that he was “full of leprosy.” He knew that he needed help. He needed supernatural, merciful, divine help. He needed the help of God. Without it, he would surely die.
Now, this is the very reason why many of you have never come to Christ, you do not have any sense of need. You do not feel that you need Christ. But some of you, I have reason to believe, are like this leper. You have come to feel your need of Christ. The plague of sin in your heart causes your very soul to burn with fever. You are lost, helpless, unclean, and doomed. You know that without Christ, you will surely die. You need him and you know it.
1. His power to heal you.
2. His blood to cleanse you.
3. His righteousness to cover you.
4. His mercy to save you.
This is the first step toward salvation. Those who sense their need of mercy will soon obtain mercy.
All the fitness he requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
II. The next thing is that THIS LEPER CAME TO CHRIST IN GREAT HUMILIATION.
Luke says that, “Seeing Jesus, he fell on his face.” Mark tells us that he came “Kneeling.” And that is just the way you must come to Christ, kneeling and falling on your face at his feet. Sinner, you must come down - Down from your pride - Down from your self-righteousness - Down from your self-sufficiency - You must come down in your own eyes - Down, down, down, all the way down to the feet of Christ (Lk. 18:9-14).
A. If you ever see who and what you are, you will come down.
1. You are a poor son of Adam.
2. You are full of uncleanness.
3. You are cursed, condemned, and ready to die.
4. You are helpless.
5. You are unworthy of God’s slightest notice.
B. If you ever see who Christ is and what he is, you will come down.
1. He is holy, righteous, and true.
2. He is a God full of mercy, love, and compassion.
3. He is a God able and willing to save.
4. He is a Fountain opened for cleansing.
5. He is God, whose glory it is to forgive sin.
C. God knows how to bring sinners down to the feet of his Son.
1. God brings sinners down in his providence.
2. God brings sinners down by the law, pronouncing their uncleanness.
3. God brings sinners down by the gospel.
4. God brings sinners down by revealing Christ to them.
Can you go with me this far? Do you feel your desperate need of Christ? Has your heart been broken and humbled at the feet of Christ? (Job 42:5-6). I hope you can also follow this leper in the next thing.
III. This is the third thing that i want you to see - THIS MAN CAME TO THE LORD IN GREAT FAITH (Heb. 11:6).
This is the main point. I do not know how he came to have this faith. Perhaps he had heard our Lord preach. Perhaps he was familiar with the Old Testament prophets. Perhaps he had heard the fame of our Lord from others. But this much I know, he knew who Christ was. He believed his claims. And he came to the Savior, full of faith.
A. The leper came to the Lord by himself.
1. Others had been led to Christ by one of his disciples, but not him.
2. Others had been picked up and brought to the Lord, but not him.
3. Others who could not come and were not brought were blessed by a visit from the Lord himself, but not this leper.
4. Everyone had given this poor man up as a hopeless case. He was a lonely, isolated man.
No man cared for his soul. No one could or would take him to the Savior. But it is our Lord’s delight to save the hopeless, the helpless, and the friendless.
B. This leper came to the Lord against many obstacles.
1. He had no precedent to follow.
2. He had no promise of cure.
3. He had no invitation to come.
4. He had no legal right to come.
C. This leper came to Christ confessing great faith.
1. He worshipped Christ as God.
2. He believed Christ to be Lord.
3. He knew the Christ had it in his power to make him whole and clean.
4. He confessed his faith in his own words.
Application: This is the point, my friend, Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?
· Do you believe Christ is who he says he is?
· Do you believe Christ has done what he claims to have done?
· Do you believe Christ has power to save you?
D. Now, this is the thing that strikes me most, this leper’s faith was a very personal matter.
He believed that Christ could heal him!
IV. Again, THIS MAN CAME TO THE LORD IN TOTAL SUBMISSION.
He recognized that the whole issue was in the hands of Christ. “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”
A. Beloved, this matter of salvation depends upon the will of our Lord.
1. Christ has the right to save you.
2. Christ has the power to save you.
3. I want you to see that the whole matter of God’s saving grace lies under the control of his own sovereign will (Rom. 9:16, 18).
B. Recognizing the sovereignty of Christ power and the sovereignty of his will, he submitted to the Lord with joyful hope.
1. There was a total surrender to the Lord. He simply threw himself upon Christ. And you must do the same. “Lord, if you will you can save me.” (Illustration: Lee to Grant)
2. Yet, he had hope. The Lord had never refused such a request before. And there is hope for you. God never has yet turned away one seeking, believing, submissive sinner. It seems likely, therefore, that he will not turn any away now.
Perhaps he will admit my plea,
Perhaps will hear my prayer;
But if I perish, I will pray,
And perish only there.
I can but perish if I go,
I am resolved to try;
For if I stay away I know,
I must forever die.
But if I die with mercy sought,
When I the king have tried;
This were to die (delightful thought!)
As sinner never died.
NOTE: The leper could not be worse off, even if he had been rejected. And if it were to happen that you sued for mercy and obtained it not, what would be your loss?
V. But, I am here to tell you, in the last place, that THIS MAN OBTAINED MERCY, AND SO MAY YOU.
A. Look at the great reward of his faith.
1. The Lord showed him compassion.
2. The Lord touched him.
3. The Lord healed him.
· His healing was immediate.
· His healing was complete.
B. You too may obtain mercy at the feet of King Jesus.
1. He is willing to show mercy.
2. He invites you to come.
3. He has power to meet your soul’s need.
Let me do what I can to persuade you to come now to the Lord. Come like this leper. Come with a sense of your need. Come in humiliation. Come in faith. Come in submission. But do come to Christ. Come to him now.
· Knowing your danger, I persuade you to come.
· Knowing the love of Christ, I say, come.
· Knowing the power of Christ, I say, come.
· Knowing the merits of Christ, I say, come.
· Knowing the will of Christ, I say, come.
Yes, I know his will in this matter. It is his will to show mercy to perishing sinners. He has saved others just like you. Who can tell? Maybe he will save you too (Ezek. 33:11; John 6:37-40). I know that it is the will and pleasure of Christ to save sinners because...
· He has said it.
· He died to accomplish it.
· He sent me to preach it to you.
· He lives to do it.
 See also Luke #25 preached at Danville on Sunday Evening 2/27/00