Preaching Luke 5:1-32 this week. It is part of a larger section which runs from 5:1-6:16 and is primarily about the calling of Jesus’ disciples (5:1-11, 27-32 and 6:12-16).
One of the more challenging aspects of prep was working out what Luke includes this healing of the leper within this section. There is a clear emphasis on sin and discipleship – but where does leprosy fit in?
Well, I think the answer lies in the fact that 5:12-16 aren’t really a healing miracle – they are a cleansing miracle. There is no mention of the effects of the skin disease on the man. No mention of his dry, wrinkly, flaky skin which was restored to Nivea smoothness.
Rather, what is emphasised (3 times) is the “cleansing”. What adds support to this is the fact that Jesus points the man to go to the priest. It is Leviticus 14:1-32 which deals with the procedure for cleansing skin diseases. And these 32 verses (in the LXX) contain more occurrences of the “cleansing” word than any other chapter in the bible.
So I think the point is not that the man was suffering from a skin disease, but that his condition meant he was separated from people and from God. He was unclean. And it is this uncleanness that Jesus miracle deals with.
This connects with the next miracle (healing of the paralytic lowered through the roof) which also focuses more on the man’s uncleanness before God than on his disability.