The Lord Who Makes Us Clean

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Leviticus 12-15 | April 2 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
April 2
The Lord Who Makes Us Clean | Leviticus 12-15
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Father, now as we come to Your Word, give me just the right words to say, that this strange text would make some sense to us, and more than that, that we would know Christ in it and know His love for us who believe. Give us ears to hear. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

I invite you to turn in your Bibles to that great Palm Sunday text that is Leviticus 12, 13, 14, and 15. It’s a very long section. We aren’t going to read all of it. In fact, we won’t read most of it. We’ll walk through and explain what’s in this text. It would take almost the whole sermon to read through all of it.

As I introduced last week from chapter 11, Leviticus 11 through 15 you can think of as the cleanliness manual of the Bible. How do we become unclean and then how do we become clean and how are we restored then to God’s people?

We looked at Leviticus 11 last week, which animals you can eat, which animals you can or can’t touch. It was long. Hopefully you learned something and there was more there than meets the eye. It was tedious.

Now we come to chapters 12 through 15, and I have to tell you, they are even longer and more tedious. In fact, on the face of it, they may seem offensive, as we’ll see in just a moment. You could almost get the impression based on these instructions for childbirth that girls are somehow more impure than boys, or that lepers are treated unfairly as outcasts, or that sex is considered filthy, or that women have to be confined to their homes all the time because they’re unclean.

And let’s face it, these chapters, what’s the word we should use? They’re just kind of gross. I thought about entitling the sermon, “Ewww,” to use the technical language. There’s no way around it. It’s in the Bible and it’s all breathed out and profitable. These chapters are about fluids and sores and discharges and mildew and scabs and mold and blood and pus and disease. There’s no way around it.

So I want you to brace yourself for about 15 or 20 minutes to walk through the text, reading some of it, explaining what’s in here, and then the second half, maybe it’ll be more than the first half, but the second half then we are going to look, what does Jesus say about all this? What does Jesus have to do?

So hope you have your Bibles open. I said last week that chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 go together and there’s kind of a rhythm about 11 things that go in you, 12 things that come out of you, 13 and 14 things that are on you, and then chapter 15 is things that come out of you. So we’re going to look at 12 and 15 and then 13 and 14.

Chapter 12 is the shortest and you can the heading in the ESV, “Purification After Childbirth.” Let’s look at the first paragraph.

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days. As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying. She shall not touch anything holy, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation. And she shall continue in the blood of her purifying for sixty-six days.”

So immediately we ask the question, “Why are women considered unclean after childbirth?” Remember we’re talking about ritual uncleanness, about whether or not you can approach the holy things, the holy altar and festivals, and participate in all of the holy worship. We’re not talking about sin but about ritual uncleanness. Why childbirth? Childbirth is a good thing. The Bible celebrates children, considered a great gift. So why are women unclean?

Well, it’s not because there is some sin involved because of the child, but it is, as we see here hinted at, because of the loss of blood. You notice several times in this passage it is called the blood of her purifying. Verse 2 uses that language, verse 4, verse 5. You see down later in verse 7, “She shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her… She shall be clean from the flow of her blood.” So it is explicitly about the flow of blood. Blood considered the life of a person, an animal, a thing. So with the loss of blood it is considered the loss of some life.

Remember so much of these clean and unclean laws have to do with what distinguishes life from death. To lose blood is to lose something that’s considered the core, the essence of life.

Then we have to ask the question, “Why is she unclean twice as long for girls as for boys?” This seems, on the face of it, unfair as if it’s some sort of patriarchal oppression.

Well, there are at least a couple of good explanations for this. One, less likely but possible, is that it may have been considered that when you give birth to a daughter, the female child was thought as one who would normally grow up to be a mother herself and in the course menstruate that it was considered that she had blood bound up within her, and so there is a period of ritual uncleanness not only for the mother’s loss of blood but for this girl.

I think an even better explanation is to remember that under the Old Testament, the male son is given on the eighth day to be circumcised. Now with greater light and greater grace here in the New Testament, we have baptism for both boys and girls, but in the Old Testament that initiatory covenant sign is given to the boys. So she is unclean for seven days because on the eighth day then the son can be circumcised. So because this ritual is not available for the girls in the Old Testament, there is twice as along a period and then after that, not just 33 days of the extra purifying process but 66.

In both cases, lest this seem extreme, remember that the point was not only to stipulate that this loss of blood indicates some loss of life but there was often and likely a humanitarian effect, to protect and shelter the mother.

There are different cultural expectations. I remember in my last church one time a woman who was from an Asian culture had a child and she said it was in their culture that she would not be presented in public, would not come out in public, for at least a month. So we didn’t see her for a month. That was in their culture what was considered acceptable. Then in other times you’d have a baby and boom, the next Sunday you’re there. So there’s a lot of different cultural explanations.

But here you can understand that the woman is given an opportunity which perhaps she even appreciated, that after pregnancy, during menstruation, women were exempt from the requirement to attend the festivals. This may have been an exemption that they even appreciated. They could not come, they were not allowed to come, they had to maintain this ritual cleansing.

After purification she must bring a lamb for a burnt offering and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. The atonement here is not because the childbirth was a sin, but perhaps it’s called atonement for the sins that she was unable to bring during the time of her uncleanness, when sins might have accumulated and she was not able to go as a worshiper. So here there must be an atonement to account for the sins that may have been accumulated and she was not able to deal with.

Interestingly, if you look at verse 8, it says if she cannot afford a lamb, she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons. Recall that Luke 2:22 says when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they, that is Joseph and Mary, brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. So we see Joseph and Mary were very fastidious. They considered they were good Jews, they followed this Levitical law, and the fact that they brought two birds shows that they must have been of the poorer classes, as most Israelites would have been.

So here we have the law of what comes out of a woman after childbirth. It’s going to get messier.

Turn to chapter 15. So this is the other part, laws about bodily discharges. There are four different categories here – chronic male discharges, temporary male discharge, and then temporary female and chronic female discharges.

Look at chapter 15, verse 1: “The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean. And this is the law of his uncleanness for a discharge: whether his body runs with his discharge, or his body is blocked up by his discharge, it is his uncleanness.”

No doubt the language here about the man and his body, his flesh, is a euphemism for sexual organ. It’s used that way later with reference to a woman’s sexual organs. This discharge is perhaps due to some kind of sexually-transmitted disease. Many commentators think it could be gonorrhea, a permanent, chronic discharge, if not permanent then chronic.

Well, here everything he sits on is unclean. People who touch him or touch what he sits on is unclean. Once the discharge is gone, he needs to bring two birds to the tabernacle for a burnt offering and a sin offering.

Look then at verse 16. So those were the chronic, we’re just looking them in brief, you’re thankful. Then verse 16, the temporary. Verse 16: ““If a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean until the evening. And every garment and every skin on which the semen comes shall be washed with water and be unclean until the evening. If a man lies with a woman and has an emission of semen, both of them shall bathe themselves in water and be unclean until the evening.””

So this is not as serious an uncleanness as the first type of discharge. No sacrifice is required. You are simply unclean until the evening, which probably again speaks to perhaps the chronic discharge had some sort of promiscuity at its root, although that’s not always the case, but this is in a normal course of normal human bodily functions. Again, you may ask the question, “Well, why then does sexual activity make the man and the woman he is with ritually unclean?”

Well, one of the reasons may be, as you know from elsewhere in the Old Testament, that when the men went off to battle, when they went off to holy war, they were to abstain, and this would be one of the ways to force abstinence, because you could not move into this holy activity if you were engaged in sexual intercourse.

And you see some parallel of it, perhaps, in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 where there Paul, his assumption is that married couples, men and women, are normally enjoying marital intimacy together. He says, unless for a time you abstain for the purpose of prayer. This is sort of akin to the holy war of the Old Testament, that the normal course is that there’s life and companionship and intimacy, but for a time you may separate yourselves for prayer.

One of the other reasons, perhaps, for this law about discharges is it would have stigmatized promiscuity. Now it’s true. You could be unclean for many reasons, and people may not know why you haven’t come out until the evening and why you’re not able to do all the things, but, and you could also disobey the command, but the system was meant to provide some indication to sexual activity. It seems very embarrassing for us and perhaps was for them, but it was one way that they could have stigmatized sinful sexual behavior. It’s always a challenge, in any community, in the church, how to stigmatize certain behaviors without wanting to stigmatize and ostracize people.

So our culture likes to fancy itself as not having any stigmas, but it actually has a lot of stigmas. Some of them are unhelpful, certain things that Christians are no longer considered to be rational, good citizens, and then there are other sorts of stigmas that are helpful. We have a strong stigma in this country against racism. If you’re a racist, that is the devaluation of social standing, and that’s a good thing. Now people can still hide it, people can still subvert it in different ways. It’s not that the sin doesn’t happen, but it’s a stigma of the past couple of generations that does encourage people into the right sort of behavior.

So here you don’t want to say, “If you’ve committed a sexual sin, you have no place, you can never be forgiven.” You don’t want to ostracize for all time the people, and yet communities always, in order to have some boundaries, stigmatize certain behaviors. This was one way to do it. People would have some indication whether or not you had been sexual active just by your setting aside of your uncleanness. So they would know, “Well, wait a second, I didn’t know that they were married. I didn’t know what happened. Your husband, your wife, is out of town. What’s going on?” There was some moral reinforcement.

So we have chronic and temporary for the men, and then temporary and chronic for the female.

Look at verse 19. ““When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening.””

Some people comment and say, “Well, this is very cruel to women and think of how much of their adult life they would have been ritually unclean.” You do have to remember, however, that given the nutrition we have in our day, puberty likely comes much sooner than it did then, and in the ancient world most women would have married early, they would have had children frequently, and they would have nursed those children for two, three years or more, all of which has a suppressing effect on a monthly cycle. So all of that is to say that the menstruation period was probably much less frequent.

Again, perhaps even women would have found this helpful, to protect women when they were most vulnerable, to guard against embarrassment and harassment, especially in an ancient world without all of the sort of products and ways we have to mitigate those sort of embarrassments or harassments today.

Then verse 25, temporary female, chronic female discharges. We read, ““If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean.””

Think about the famous story in the New Testament of the woman who had the bleeding issue for 12 years. Some kind of hemorrhaging for 12 years, unclean, unable to participate in the normal activity of life.

Here everything she sits on is unclean, whoever touches what she sits on is unclean. After purification you bring a sacrifice. So the laws are equitable for chronic male, chronic female, a sacrifice is required. For temporary and temporary, you just wait. The laws would have reinforced the connection between cleanness and life. As different as they seem to us, they were all meant to underscore life is represented by cleanness, death by uncleanness. So the loss of fluids, the loss of blood, is the loss of life, which renders you ritually unclean.

And as we’ll see now, when your body is in some kind of decay, or your clothes, or your house is infected with a kind of decay, you are also unclean.

So chapter 12, chapter 15, what comes out of a man or a woman to render them unclean.

Now move to the middle, chapters 13 and 14. These deal with serious skin diseases. The Greek translation is lepra, but everyone agrees now that the disease was not strictly speaking leprosy, or Hansen’s disease. You can see a footnote in the ESV, leprosy was a term for several skin diseases. In fact, these symptoms are not really like leprosy. There is no known leprosy in the ancient world at this time. The Hebrew word that’s translated “leprous disease,” tsara-ath, is also used in these chapters with references to clothes and to houses, so it can’t be strictly speaking this Hansen’s disease if it’s referred to a kind of infection, not just of persons but of clothes and houses.

Several passages in the Old Testament, this word tsara-ath is compared to snow. Exodus 4, Numbers 12, 2 Kings 5. Some translations will then add “white as snow,” like Miriam was leprous, white as snow, but snow is not actually, or rather white is not actually in the Hebrew. The comparison is probably with the flakiness of snow rather than with its whiteness.

These three sections in chapters 13 and 14 you can see are clearly marked off by a pattern. Three sections here begin with “the Lord spoke” and they end “this is the law.”

So look, chapter 13, verse 1, “The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron” and then go to verse 59, “This is the law for a case of a leprous disease.”

Chapter 14. So here’s the second section. “The Lord spoke to Moses” and then over at verse 32, “This is the law for him in whom is a case of a leprous disease.”

Then verse 33, “The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron,” and again verse 57, “This is the law for leprous disease.”

What we have here in these two chapters are three distinct sections. Skin disease in people and clothing, that’s chapter 13; and then cleansing after recovery from the skin disease, that’s the first half of chapter 14; and then diseases in the house, the second half of chapter 14. Just note them each quickly.

Chapter 13 deals with skin disease in people and clothing. The priest was in this function not even really a doctor because there’s no mechanism given to him to cure people. He’s more of a health inspector. He has to go and see how serious the disease was, if it has gotten under the skin, is it a normal sort of pattern or is some sort of infection. You can look at chapter 13, verse 40, for example: “If a man’s hair falls out from his head, he is bald,” thank you, “he is clean.” Good news. That’s not a disease. You’re bald.

However, some of these other skin diseases would render one in a very dire strait. You can see, for example, verse 47, “When there is a case of leprous disease in a garment,” so the priest has to look not only at the skin but the garment, “whether woolen or linen garment, in warp or woof.”

Now you weavers understand the which one of those is the lengthwise and the other one is going across, but the two strands there in weaving, “the warp and the woof of linen or wool, or in a skin or in anything made of skin, if the disease is greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin or in the warp or the woof or in any article made of skin, it is a case of leprous disease, and it shall be shown to the priest.”

So you have to go and look at yourself, your clothing, and if you were declared unclean because of this skin disease, your life would change instantly. Look up the previous paragraph, verse 45: ““The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.””

It’s likely to seem harsh, oppressive, barbaric, but we do have to remember that in primitive ancient society like this, what mechanisms did that have to try to protect people from strange diseases that could spread? They didn’t quarantine the healthy but they quarantined the sick. In order to keep this from spreading through the camp, extreme measures were taken so that this person could be readily identified as one who has one of these, as the ESV puts it, leprous diseases, outside the camp, must alert people to their condition so that no one else will take upon themselves this predicament.

Chapter 14 then gives us cleansing after recovery from skin disease. So not all hope is lost. It’s not necessarily the rest of your life. Strikingly, the law of Moses does not actually tell us how you get clean. Now it does not say you go to a witch doctor, you don’t take some folk medicine, you don’t cut yourself. It doesn’t even say you confess your sins, because these are not tied to sins. They didn’t have doctors as we have them. Presumably, when you were rendered unclean with one of these diseases, all you could do is wait and pray. Pray and wait.

And the priest would come to you and inspect and let you know when you were able to return to civilization. Look at chapter 14, verse 2: “This shall be the law of the leprous person for the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest, and the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall look.”

You may recall, that’s important language in Hebrew when it comes to Jesus. The priest would go and meet the leprous person outside the camp, to go as a mediator, to declare whether this person was able to be restored. What a day when you were healed.

You see at the end of verse 3, “If the case of leprous disease is healed in the leprous person, the priest shall command them to take for him who is to be cleansed two live clean birds, cedarwood, scarlet yarn, hyssop. The priest shall command them to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water. He shall take the live bird with the cedarwood and the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, and dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed of the leprous disease. Then he shall pronounce him clean and shall let the living bird go into the open field.”

Later, we won’t read the rest of chapter 14, but there are mandatory sacrifices, the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering. Four of the five offerings were commanded. The only one that wasn’t was the peace offering because that was almost always a voluntary offering, a free will offering. So these are offered because this is a great day of thanksgiving and rejoicing for the unclean to return to the camp.

Then the second half of chapter 14 details a similar process, not for people but for houses. Except there are no sacrifices because houses, well, houses don’t have a relationship with God that needs to be restored. But it’s a similar process, inspection by the priest, and then a restoration to declare that this house now can once again be inhabited.

All right, pat yourself on the back, you made it through chapters 11 through 15.

Now what are we to do with this? We see at its most fundamental level, these laws about clean and unclean, reminded God’s people of this central plank of Israel’s worldview – the Lord is holy and they are not.

Leviticus is about God living in plush, pristine, white, new carpet, and all of us having muddy, filthy boots. Not just good, you know, it’s one of the big differences when you move down to the Carolinas, they have normal, dark, black mud up in Michigan where the, you know, the glaciers settled and everything got… Down here, it is that red, orange clay out of which it never comes, nothing, nothing, it takes Jesus to get rid of that.

So you just picture, when we were having some work done on our house a few years ago and they’re digging up all around and it’s just, and it would rain, it would just orange, gloppy mess and we had to lay down boards and just implore the children not to walk in it because when they do, it is over. Over for your house, over for them, some of them no longer have feet.

This is Leviticus. Pristine, new, fresh, white carpet; all of us Carolina orange clay on our feet. How do we get clean?

I want you to think of one passage in particular from the New Testament. Once you have this world of clean and unclean and pure, at least it helps you to make sense of so much in the Gospels, these famous stories of the 10 lepers, for example, who are cleansed and then only one goes back to thank Jesus and the others forget. Or the healing of the bleeding woman. There are lots of stories that inhabit this world of cleanliness.

But one in particular. Turn to Mark chapter 1. This will serve us well to finish this section of Leviticus and also to direct us to the table this morning. There are many stories of Jesus encountering someone with one of these leprous diseases. Here’s one in Mark chapter 1, verse 40: “And a leper,” and you read the footnote, a term for several skin diseases, probably not a literal one with leprosy, “And a leper came to Him, imploring Him, and kneeling said to Him, “If You will, You can make me clean.””

It’s one of the most remarkable statements of anyone, I think, who approaches Jesus. Jesus, I know, I know You can do this. I have no doubt that You are able to help me. You absolutely. My whole predicament, You can make me clean. I know that. What I don’t know is if You want to. You just have to say the word or wave Your hand or do one of those things with mud or blink twice or wiggle Your nose, something, I don’t know what, but something and You can make me better. You can change my whole life right now, Jesus. You can do it.

And this man is, he’s literally, he’s on his knees. You can experience the pathos of this man who has run out of options. He’s on his knees, begging him, “You can do it, Jesus. I’m just pleading that You want to.”

There are two massively important assumptions this man makes in issuing this plea to Jesus. The first assumption the leper makes, don’t miss it, is that he is unclean. Now he knew that. The problem with so many people, including church people, including maybe some of you, is you don’t know that you’re dirty. Of course you know compared to I’m not perfect and there’s things I wish I were different, but really, really, we don’t know that we’re dirty. People will do whatever they can to convince themselves they’re okay. They’ll distract themselves, they’ll get enough people to pat them on the back. They’ll center themselves, whatever they can do to avoid having to look deep into their heart and realize there’s filth.

We know in the abstract we’re not perfect. But we have a way of comparing ourselves to others to mitigate any sense of guilt or contrition.

This man, here’s the, this is the indispensable step in coming to Jesus, he knew he was unclean. He could see himself.

Is it possible some of you here, you are not seeing yourself correctly? You’ve convinced yourself it’s not that bad, the things you’re doing are not really much worse than other people. It’s been a long time for some of us, since you were truly, genuinely broken for your sin. I don’t mean regret, regret’s easy, oh, that made a mistake, I wish that wouldn’t have happened, that messed up my life, I should have studied for the test.

No, regret is easy. No real contrition of heart to realize not just an error, a mistake, a sin, and you are dirty.

This man understands he’s unclean.

Second assumption – the leper believes that Jesus can make him clean. You see, faith is very specific sometimes. It means believing that Jesus can do for you what no one else can do for you. No seminar, no self-help book, no yoga position, no wellness seminar, no centering can remove the guilty conscience that you have, the sense of uncleanness.

So if we’re to learn anything from Leviticus and anything from the Gospels, we have to start with these two assumptions – do you know that you’re unclean and do you believe that Jesus can make you well?

If you know you’re unclean, why not tell Jesus? You’re not fooling Him. He’s God. He knows everything. You might as well tell Him. You might as well tell Him what you’re trying to avoid, as if if you didn’t name it before God then it doesn’t really exist. Nah nah nah, I don’t know, I don’t see my sin.

Or as if you’re going to tell God something He doesn’t know, you’re going to catch Him off guard. You say, “Wait a minute. Time out. I didn’t even know you had that sin. I’ve been going way too easy on you. Gabriel, Michael, come here. Did you know about this thing? I’m just hearing about it for the first time.”

He already knows. Tell Him. Some of us, some of you, living in bondage like 10 lepers, like a bleeding woman for 12 years, and there’s freedom available if you’ll own up to your uncleanness. It’s so much better than living a life of constant shame, of untold buried secrets, of feeling like some sort of outcast and if people really could know who you are, they wouldn’t want anything to do with you. No one would want to touch you.

Jesus would.

In fact, look at verse 41. This response from Jesus to this leper will be Jesus’ response to you if you come broken-hearted for your sin. Now this leprosy was not his sin, but that’s what the lesson Jesus wants us to learn is our uncleanness is ultimately not from a kind of skin or psoriasis, but it’s from our hearts.

“Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately, immediately, the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.”

Do you think it’s really that simple? It is really that simple. To come to Jesus, whether for the first time or for the millionth time, and say, “I am so dirty, but if You will, You can make me clean,” and Jesus says, “Of course I will. I’ll forgive you.”

You come and you say, “Jesus, I did it again. My parents told me, You told me, don’t go walk in that orange mud, and I did it again. And I can’t get it off.” That’s some of you. That’s some of you. You need to come to Jesus. And not just people, you say, “Well, I’ve been a Christian my whole life.” That may be and you still need to come to Jesus for the mud and the muck and the filth and junk and the stains and the pollution that you haven’t dealt with. And Jesus wants to deal with it. Jesus, in fact, loves sinners so much He’s willing to trade places with us.

Have you ever noticed this? Look what happens next in this story. Verse 43: “And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest,” that’s what the law required, “and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded,” ah, good, He knows Leviticus, “for a proof to them.” But he went out,” the leper, “and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to Him from every quarter.”

Do you see what’s happened? What did the Levitical law require of the leper? You let your hair grow, unkempt. I guess it’s mullets right there in Leviticus. You have to cry out “unclean, unclean,” outside the camp, in a desolate place, by yourself. By the end of this story, the leper is cleansed, the leper is welcomed home, the leper runs and tells all of his family and friends and they’ve traded places. Now Jesus is the one, He can no longer openly enter a town, He has to go out in desolate places.

Mark is trying to tell us by the Spirit, as he records this story for us, that Jesus has taken upon Himself what the leper had experienced. So Jesus trades places with sinners, Jesus as we will recall during this holy week, was charged with all of your dirt so you could be pure. He was put to death so you could live. He was made the outcast, put outside the camp, so you could be welcomed in.

So come to Him, run to Him. He will not turn you away. Come with all of your sin, all of your filth, all of your muck and mire, and like this man, fall at His feet and say, “Lord, if You will, You can make me clean.” And Jesus can and Jesus will.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, Your Word tells us that if we say we are without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we pretend we’re going through this life with spotless shoes, and we’re never traipsing around mud into Your living room, then we’re deceiving ourselves. But if we confess our sins, You are faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So we come to You as we approach this table, needing to be fed as beggars looking for our next meal, as lepers falling at Your feet, imploring You that we could be clean, confessing before You our sins of the things we have left undone and the things we have done that we should not have done, and we rejoice that You will stretch out Your hand to us and make us clean. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.