Where Are the Nine?
Sunday, March 8, 2015
By Rev. James May
The time was drawing near for Jesus to pay the price of our sin upon the cross. Yet even in his last days upon the earth, Jesus never lost purpose in everything that he did. His mind was never so preoccupied with the things that he was going to have to face in a short time that he forgot to focus in on the moment.
The Bible tells us not to be overly concerned or worried about what may happen tomorrow. We are living in the last days and it’s easy to get focused on what the future may bring, but we can get so caught up in looking for the Rapture and watching the fulfilling of prophecy that we forget to focus in on what’s important right now, today, this very hour! How many blessings; how many opportunities for ministry; and how many souls might be neglected while we focus too much on going home to be with Jesus?
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover for the last time on this earth! His journey with his disciples was just about over.
Most mortal men would be far more concerned with their own cares of life and their own problems, knowing that the hour of their death was drawing near. But Jesus never lost sight of the “Now” and he seized every moment to meet the needs of others. He saw all men as lost sheep, and while he knew that he was the Son of God, very God in the flesh; he also knew that men were eternal beings without hope and without a future. Jesus would be raised from the dead, but what about these mortal human beings who would never be raised to new life without Christ?
Jesus could never miss an chance to meet their needs! The compassion, love, mercy and love for man was always at the forefront of everything that Jesus did!
Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
Everywhere Jesus went, he went with a purpose. To the casual observer of the day, it may have seemed that Jesus was just a wanderer without any specific plan or goal in mind because his path often led into places where most Jews wouldn’t go, and his ministry carried him to every part of Israel, even into areas where any “good” Jew wouldn’t go. There was a lot of prejudice among the Jews. The nation was divided between Jews in the south and Jews in the north in the area of Samaria.
The Samaritans occupied the area that once belonged to the tribes of Ephraim and the half of Manasseh. The capital city of the region was Samaria, which had once been a large and splendid city. When the Jews were carried away into captivity to Assyria, the king of Assyria sent people from four different idolatrous nations to inhabit Samaria. These foreign idolaters intermarried with the Jewish population that was still in and around Samaria.
These foreigners at first worshipped the idols of their own nations, but being troubled with lions, they supposed it was because they had not honored the God of that territory, so a Jewish priest was sent to them from Assyria to instruct them in how to observe the Jewish religion. They were taught the Law of Moses but they mixed Judaism with their own idol worship and corrupted the religion of the Jews.
Because of the unlawful marriages between Jews and idol worshippers, and their corruption of the Jewish religion, the rest of the Jews considered anyone who lived in Samaria as “half-breeds” who were to be despised and rejected as heretics.
In addition to all of this, the Samaritans were considered to be rebellious because they had tried to stop the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple under Nehemiah.
The Samaritan were not allowed to worship in the temple in Jerusalem because of their idolatry, so the Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerizim and claimed that Moses gave them authority to build it and that it was the only place to worship; not in Jerusalem. Sanballat, who had opposed Nehemiah so strongly, had set up his own son-in-law, Manasses, as the Samaritan High Priest. That really ruffled the feathers of the High Priest in Jerusalem. There could only be one true High Priest, and only one true temple; and the Jews of the 10 tribes in the south claimed it had to be in Jerusalem; not the outlaw country of Samaria.
In time, the region of Samaria became a safe haven for all of the outlaws that came out of Judea to the south. The Samaritans welcomed these criminals and refugees who had violated the laws of the Jewish religion and had been excommunicated according to the Law of Moses. That really fueled the flames of hatred and division, and no faithful Jew would be caught dead speaking to a Samaritan after that. The Samaritans were animals, nothing more than dogs in their opinion.
In addition to all of this, the Samaritans only accepted the writings of Moses in the Pentateuch and refused to believe in the writings of all the other prophets. By doing so, they rejected many of the Jewish religious traditions and formed their own legal and religious belief system.
So, Israel was a very divided nation. Jews of the north and south hated one another, called one another heretics and blasphemers and would have nothing to do with one another. Jews opposed Jews in a racial conflict based on where they lived and the border between the two was seldom crossed. If a Jew from the south had to travel to do business in areas north of Samaria they would travel many miles out of the way to go around rather than risk contact with the Samaritan dogs.
Jesus did not choose sides in the racial conflict between the Jews and the Samaritans. He just went where he wanted to. He is an “equal opportunity Savior”. It matters not to God whether you are Jew, Greek, Black or white! He doesn’t consider your bank account, your station in life or your standing in the community. All he looks at is the condition of your heart and whether you are ready to receive the promises of God.
Jesus walked the border between the Jews in Galilee and the Samaritans, crossing from one to the other as often as he wanted. Whenever there was a chance to touch someone, perform a miracle, or use the occasion to teach a lesson to the disciples, Jesus would go where he needed to and do whatever it took.
One day, as he walked along this border, Jesus came to a little village where the line between Samaritans and Jews didn’t seem to be so clearly marked because both lived there in different areas of the village.
Luke 17:12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
10 – God’s number of testimony, law, responsibility and the completeness of order! Since there were 10 lepers, it speaks to us that all men are spiritual lepers; lost in the hopelessness of sin and shame. This was a testimony of the need of all men for deliverance; of the fact that all men have violated the perfect law of God; of the responsibility that all men carry for their sin, and God’s responsibility to judge sin and to somehow make a way for reconciliation. In these 10 lepers we see the complete order and plan of God for the actions of God in making a way that we can all be delivered from the sentence of death that is upon every sinful soul.
As Jesus walked through this village, the lepers saw him, recognized him as a great teacher and prophet, and they began to try and get the Lord’s attention. They had to stand afar off because of the law found in Leviticus 13:46. Leprosy was deadly, terminal and had no cure outside of supernatural intervention. Only a miracle could save a leper!
These lepers were separated from life – at least any life worth living! They were outcasts, forgotten, hopeless and desperate. They suffered, knowing that death was their only way of release. They were utterly rejected!
Luke 17:13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
One ray of hope …a miracle from God! They did believe in miracles, and they knew the only source of miracles was God, and at this moment, Jesus was the one who could bring them in touch with the miraculous power of God! They didn’t know that they were actually talking face-to-face with God! The Living Word was walking in flesh on his way to make the way of salvation possible through the cross. What an encounter this turned out to be! To come face to face with the supernatural, awesome power, great love, compassion, mercy and grace of the Living Word that spoke the world into existence!
I wonder if those lepers suddenly felt a song rising up in their hearts! I can hear what may have been going through their heart and mind even now!
I just feel like something good was about to happen! I just feel like something good is on its way. I’m standing here in your presence, in the stillness of your peace. Just as I am, you embrace me. You speak the Word that sets me free. Healing Word, you speak the Healing Word; You are the healing and living Word. I’m in the presence of the Living God; looking into his face – it just doesn’t get any better than that!
God’s power is sufficient for all things! Nothing is too hard, too far, too bad that the supernatural healing, delivering, overcoming power of God cannot reach it and bring the miracle needed!
But all of God’s miracles are conditional on obedience to his Word!
No true cry from the sincere heart of man is ever ignored by God! Jesus’ ear is ever open to those who call upon him.
David said in Psalms 116:1 I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
Psalms 116:2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
Psalms 116:3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat [had] hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Psalms 116:4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.
Perhaps these lepers knew this Psalm of David, but whether they did or not, they did know that without crying out to God there was no hope.
Have you ever cried out to God when he didn’t answer? If you think you might have, remember this – it’s not over yet! God will hear your cry and he will answer in his own time.
Did you pray and pray and finally give up because you didn’t see the answer? Keep praying! Maybe you’re only one more prayer away from receiving your miracle!
Prayer is the key to receiving anything from God. If the lepers hadn’t cried out; they would never have received anything from Jesus, even though Jesus knew they were there and knew their desperate condition.
Maybe you are convinced that whatever will be; will be and prayer doesn’t matter. God’s going to do his thing no matter what I do!
James says, “You have not because you ask not! Yes, God may give the answer you need without you asking, but how much quicker and how much greater will your answer be if you simply ask? Or maybe God is just waiting to see if you want it bad enough to ask for it. He won’t force you to take anything you don’t really want.
Ask and you shall receive if you ask in faith without wavering; if you ask according to God’s will; if you ask and keep on asking until the answer comes!
Prayer is the key to getting an answer! Praying without ceasing! Then believing for the answer without wavering!
The lepers’ prayer of desperation and loud cry caught the attention of God! They were loud and outspoken; not whispering and hoping that nobody noticed. Their prayer wasn’t written in flowery speech and they didn’t care about correct grammar! They didn’t worry if they spoke in King James English with “Wilt thou, Oh Lord of Heaven and Earth; King of Kings; God of all Creation; Jehovah-Jireh; Jehovah-Nissi; Almighty Father…”
No! They just screamed, “Master help us! Have Mercy!” This was their only hope! This was no time to be shy or withdrawn! Life was hanging in the balance and they had an “effectual, fervent prayer”!
Luke 17:14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
Jesus didn’t even walk over and lay his hands on them! He didn’t go sprinkle holy water on them! He didn’t ever walk over and anoint them with lilac scented olive oil from the oil press of the temple in Jerusalem! He just spoke the word; that Living, powerful, creative, awesome Word!
Their healing was conditional on their obedience to that word! Go and show! Let the miracle be witnessed by the priests so that they can see it’s true. Only the priests could declare you clean under the law!
Thank God today we are free from the law! I am declared clean by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of God alone! Jesus is my High Priest! He saves me, sets me free and gives me new life!
The lepers turned to go to the temple. No doubt they were all healed because they all turned to go do what Jesus had said! And as they went, the healing came!
They were healed when Jesus spoke the word! But they didn’t realize that they were healed until they stepped out in faith and in obedience to the word!
Miracles only come through obedience and faith as we step out in belief!
Luke 17:15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
• 10 walked away healed, but only one turned back to glorify God!
• Only one was grateful enough to recognize the source of his blessing!
• Only one saw the supernatural power of Jesus as his answer and was willing to recognize and praise the Lord for what was done to him!
Luke 17:16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
Only one of the 10 came back, and it’s significant that he was a Samaritan.
According to many Bible scholars, the other 9 were Jews and they thought that they deserved what they had received just because they were descendants of Moses and Abraham!
“You owe this to us God! Why should I thank you for giving me only what I deserve in the first place? I’m worthy of this healing! I should never have been curse with leprosy in the first place. That Samaritan deserved what he had, but not us. We are the best of the best; the children of Abraham and God was wrong to let this happen to us.”
The Samaritan knew he was unworthy! He was considered to be sub-human; more like a dog, and the Jews counted him as unclean even if he didn’t have leprosy. He knew that he had a supernatural visitation from the God of Israel. He was so very grateful because he knew that he didn’t deserve anything! It was only by God’s grace and mercy that he received anything! Even the act of going to show his miracle to the priests was more than he could ever expect! He was an outcast in Israel just for being a Samaritan, and to be a Samaritan with leprosy was a double-barreled sentence of death! And now he was free! No wonder he rejoiced and gave glory to the Lord!
Luke 17:17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
Nine lepers had Attitudes of Ingratitude!
Luke 17:18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
Nine got lost in themselves and doing their own thing! Sure, they experienced the miracle of healing and deliverance; but they never caught the supernatural meaning of it all! They lost the opportunity to give God glory and you have to wonder if their leprosy didn’t come back in the end?
No, the Bible doesn’t say that the leprosy came back, but what did happen was that the “sin of pride and selfishness” did rest upon them; and that’s what the leprosy represented in the first place –SIN!
• 9 lepers thought they deserved the miracle of healing because of “who they were”!
• 9 lepers presumed upon the grace and mercy of God and didn’t give God glory!
• 9 lepers were too self-centered and caught up in their own lives to recognize the awesome power of God!
• 9 lepers had the attitude of taking all that they could get; but gave nothing in return!
• 9 lepers lost the greatest meaning of what God had done for them!
• 9 lepers were too worldly minded; caught up in the law; to see the Spirit at work in their lives!
• 9 lepers who are forever remembered as ungrateful; unworthy and selfish; and unwilling to recognize and praise the Lord who had blessed them with such a visitation of supernatural power!
Where are the 9 today? They were healed! They saw the miracle of deliverance from certain death; but where are they now? The chances are that they lost their chance for eternal life and still died in unbelief that Jesus is Lord.
Are we among the 9, or are we represented by the One?
When people are given health after a sickness, a few will give thanks to God; but “where are the nine?”
When people are delivered from danger; or come through a time when their lives were in peril; when they come through the storms of life; escape death or even serious injury in an accident; or are healed even if they are hurt; some few will Give God praise, but where are the nine?
Even in the great supernatural visitation of the Holy Spirit when souls are born again and given the great miracle of salvation; many will answer the call and turn to God, but where are they now? Out of the multitudes that have been saved, only a remnant; a few keep coming back; only a few of the many still remain faithful to give God praise and serve him! Where are the nine?
Satan comes along, steals their victory; encumbers them with the cares of life and they forget to keep returning and praising the Lord and giving him thanks. They take their salvation for granted; and soon they forget about the Lord altogether!
Thank God for the few who will turn back to God again and again in thanksgiving and praise, never forgetting that it is by God’s grace and mercy that they are no longer “lepers” who are dying in sin! But where are the nine?
Are you one of the Nine? Do you know others who are numbered among the Nine?
Have you allowed Satan to draw you away from the Lord?
Have you forgotten to turn back to God to give him thanks and give him praise for the good things in your life that only come from God?
He has blessed you! He has healed you! He offers you his salvation! He wants to make you his own!
Are you thankful? Are you grateful? Will you hear his words, even receive his supernatural gifts into your life and then forget to turn back and give him glory and praise?
God help us to turn back to God always with an Attitude of Gratitude! Let us ever praise him; and let us never be numbered among the Nine who walked away!
Their healing didn’t help them! They were still lost in sin. The leprosy of the body may have been healed; but the leprosy of the heart was never taken away!
Let us be grateful for all that God does for us! Let us never forget to pray; to thank him; and to give him praise for all that he does!