Monday, September 17, 2012

Multitude Monday: Ten Lepers


Luke 17:11-13 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

Lepers were outcasts, not allowed to approach others because they were considered unclean. Thus in this passage the lepers called out in a loud voice from a distance. "Have pity on us (mercy)." Their faith was great, for they believed that even from a distance, Jesus could clean them.

Their very condition was thought to be a result of sin--a sign of displeasure from God. When people got close to them the lepers were required to call out and warn of their unclean condition. Moreover, they had to live outside the city in leper camps. Because leprosy was thought to be a mark of sin--and Jesus came to save sinners--Jesus took the time to heal all the lepers he encountered.

Luke 17:14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

Their healing then was not direct, but a reward for their faith and obedience. If they refused to go to the priests until after they were healed, or if they refused to go at all, they wouldn't have experienced this miraculous cleansing. The Scripture says, "and as they went, they were cleansed."

They all noticed the miraculous change in their condition, and nine of them went directly to the priests to be pronounced clean and be on their way to a changed life. Think of it. They were considered not only unclean, but offensive to God. Think of how transforming their healing was. They could live a whole new life--as though they'd passed from darkness to light in an instant.

Luke 17:15-16 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

At first glance this passage appears to be a simple healing passage. But other miracles emphasize the healing itself, rather than the reaction to it.  This passage is included in the Bible, and Jesus, in fact, went this way so as to encounter a Samaritan, to make this lesson all the more notable. God wants us to pay attention here. Jesus is passing between Samaria and Galilee, moving east to west, near where Samaritans would reside. Samaritans not being Jews, they wouldn't be expected to have faith in a Jewish healer, much less to give thanks in such a lavish way.

Luke 17:17-19 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Of the ten lepers, only the Samaritan is rewarded with: "Your faith has made you well." His gratitude revealed his faith. He was not only healed of leprosy, but gained salvation as well.

Let's look at the numbers here. Jesus is saying that 90% of us fail to praise God. He's also saying that the least likely to give thanks and praise, are the very ones who do. Is it the poor and needy who remember...who rely on God for everything and intrinsically understand from Whom all things come? But those doing well on Wall Street or Main Street, their tendency is not only to forget their thank yous, but also to regard their success as self-made. 

What comes to mind is this then: What is a true blessing? Is it a fine job, a fancy home, well-dressed children in private schools, the latest gadgets and money in a savings account? Is it excellent health and money for the best gyms and organic foods? Or is blessing that which continually draws us close to God--cements us to Him, even?

We are all Lepers before God. Our need is great. And Jesus' blood and suffering? It gave us a whole new though we passed from darkness to light in an instant. Jesus died, the curtain tore, the earth shook--and suddenly, we are allowed in the presence of God. We are acceptable, made clean by the blood of Jesus...receivers of the New Covenant. 

Wow! Just wow. Let us not be one of the 90% who fail to understand the magnitude of the cross...the magnitude of our healing. 

Instead, let us be like this Samaritan leper, and like King David, who were both lavish in their praise and thanksgiving:

1 Chronicles 29:10-13 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,
“Praise be to you, Lord,
the God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.

Giving thanks today:
~ For God's deliverance (Ps 35:18)
~ That He is loving and faithful (Ps 52:9; 107:8)
~ That he hears my cry (Ps 118:21)
~ For other believers and for the testimony of their faith (Rom 1:8)
~ For the gift of salvation that enables me to avoid sin (Rom 6:17)
~ For delivering me from my tendency to sin (Rom 7:25)
~ For the spiritual gift of being able to address God (1 Cor 14:18)
~ For resurrection hope (1 Cor 15:57)
~ For testimony, deliverance and victory in the midst of persecution (2 Cor 2:14)
~ For other believers (Phil 1:3; Col 1:3; 2 Tim 1:3; Philem 4)
~ For those who respond to God's Word (1 Thess 2:13)
~ For being able to serve others for God (1 Tim 1:12) 
~ For God's attributes (Rev 4:9).
~ For IVP New Testament Commentary, for the reference verses above
~ My Peter suffered a scary bicycle accident at an abandoned tennis court (ran into a taut rope at good speed and fell backwards off his bike). I'm repeatedly dressing several abrasions and his abdomen is quite sore, but he had no internal injuries and he was wearing his helmet!
~ Though it looks like Beth will need the cancer drug methotrexate to stop the damage in her JRA-ravaged joints (swelling level is unacceptable on just the naproxen), I know God will be with us every moment of the ordeal. 
~ mashed sweet potatoes
~ homemade pumpkin bread
~ decadent fudge tracks ice cream (the perfect thing when you're 10 years old and sore and stiff from a bike accident--an accident in which you failed to see a taut rope until it was too late because you wouldn't listen to Mommy about wearing the glasses you need for distance.)
~ God continually reinforces to Peter that things won't go well for him if he doesn't obey his parents in the Lord. These lessons are far less painful now than they will be as an adult, when the stakes are higher and he must obey God to stay out of trouble, not his parents. 
Now, giving thanks for the "blessings" that keep me cemented to God:
~ chronic migraines
~ two in the home with ADHD
~ one with a chronic disease
~ being low income

~ few Christian relatives
~ no respite from work, other than my worship and my writing, which certainly save me and bring me joy, along with that handsome, sweet husband and my handful of sweet, rambunctious blessings.

Friends, what are you thankful for today?

Linking with Ann today and other thankful ladies.


Christina said...

How often do I fail to give thanks, taking for granted all I've been given? I live this passage and the truth here. Blessings to you!

Susan Beth said...

My son doesn't wear his glasses either - homework takes longer when you don't have them at home because you left them in the locker at school.

Love your list. Pray your family is blessed unexpectedly with something that brings great joy this week.

Got here from Ann's today.

Christine said...

Thank you for visiting today, Susan Beth. Going over to meet you now. :)

Unknown said...

As always your thankfulness inspires me! I so want to start participating in a thankful post. I know I say that all the time I guess that shows how much I NEED to :) Praying for you and your family!

Alicia said...

This is powerful--- gratitude reveals our faith. Wow! And your list of "tough stuff" reveals faith, too. Praying for you and yours this week.