Summary: Living a life touched by God
A Life that is More than Normal 21st Sunday after Pentecost October 24, 2004
Luke 17:11-19 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!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. 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. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ;
On the way to Jerusalem to face the cross, Jesus encounters ten lepers - ten outcasts - ten people with, for their time at least, a sentence of death. By the rules of their society, rules created because of the fear of contamination, lepers were forced to live apart from everyone else, and on those occasions when they drew near to others for one reason or other, to announce their presence and to warn others to stand off. Until relatively recently lepers were treated as the living dead - shunned and avoided, they were regarded as unclean, - as people most likely guilty of great sin, - as people beyond help.
But as Jesus enters a village ten lepers approach him, and mindful of the rules of their society, mindful of their need to avoid contaminating anyone, and mindful too of the fear that others had of them, they call out to Jesus from a distance: "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" What a poor, pathetic cry that must have been. Jesus does respond, but he does so in a most unusual manner. Rather than saying, as he had said to others, "Be healed - rise up - look and see - take up your bed and walk", Jesus says "Go, show yourselves to the priests". Can you see the possible confusion? They have asked for mercy - they have asked to be healed, but Jesus does nothing for them other than tell them to go and act as if they are healed - to go and present themselves to the priests as if they were whole, healed, accepted, living people. Yet, despite the possible confusion in understanding what Jesus was saying, they go, and as they go they are cleansed.
Now as we know, one of the ten, a Samaritan man upon realizing he has been healed, turns back and praising God with a loud voice he comes to Jesus, falls at his feet and thanks him. And Jesus looks upon him - and he says something very important for all his disciples to hear. He says, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."
Notice Jesus didn’t say his faith had "cured" him - the other nine were cured of leprosy, even though they didn’t come back. Jesus said his faith had made him well. Jesus here meant something more than being cured, here Jesus meant the man had been saved through faith and made whole again. My friends, this should not surprise us, for this is how the Bible explains the saving of anyone, through faith. But it might surprise you to see faith as something that leads us to a life that is more than normal.
Think of it this way: Nine lepers got healed, one got saved. Nine people go away from Jesus healed, but not saved, because they put their lives as lepers, as outcasts, as dead people, behind them. They go in obedience most certainly, but they go in a hurry, anxious to be on with it, to begin living like everyone lives. They go away unsaved because all they really want is a normal life - a life like that they have dreamed of, a life like that which they had before they became lepers, - a life like everyone else’s: of going to school, driving to work on Mondays, attending synagogue on Friday night if nothing more interesting is going on, of eating yogurt out of plastic containers, meeting someone and maybe starting a family of nice, normal, ordinary kids.
But the tenth leper - he is not in such a hurry to forget how bad it was - he’s not in such a hurry to get a normal life.