Summary: Consider the ten lepers Jesus healed. What can we learn from them? How can we act like the one who returned? Parts: A. With our pleas for mercy. B. With our public thanks.

Text: Luke 17:11-19

Theme: Faith Glorifies Our Merciful Lord

A. With our pleas for mercy

B. With our public thanks

Season: Pentecost 21c

Date: October 17, 2010

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit brings us to praise our Savior is Luke 17.

"And it happened that in traveling to Jerusalem he was going between the borders of Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a town, ten lepers, who stood far off, greeted him, and they raised their voice, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us."

"Taking notice, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And it happed that as they went they were healed.

"One of them, seeing that he was healed, returned glorifying God with a loud voice and fell on his face at his feet, thanking him. And he was a Samaritan.

"Jesus responded and said, "Were not ten healed? Where are the other nine? Were none found to return and give glory to God except this foreigner?" He said to him, "Get up and go. Your faith has saved you."(Luke 17:11-19")

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

Psalm 50:15. "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me" (Psalm 50:15 NIV). That’s one of the core passages that I want the Catechism students to memorize each year. Maybe you still remember it from your confirmation days. The King James translated it: "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me" (Psalm 50:15 KJV).

That passage summarizes what we see happening in the text today. The lepers call on Jesus in their day of trouble. He delivers them. And one of them glorifies and honors him. For you see, dear fellow believer in Christ, faith glorifies our merciful Lord. May the Holy Spirit strengthen your faith today to glorify your merciful Lord. For you see, like those lepers, we glorify him with our pleas for mercy. And like that one Samaritan, we glorify him with our public thanks. Faith glories our merciful Lord.

A. With our pleas for mercy

1. What does the lepers’ plea for mercy show about their faith?

How horrible leprosy was! Parts of the body decayed away even as the victim lived on. But leprosy also destroyed a person socially. To keep it from infecting others, lepers could no longer live with their families or visit their friends. Cut off from others, even Jewish and Samaritan lepers would set aside their national differences just to have each others company. They lived exiled in their own colonies, not allowed to come close to the healthy. That’s why they stand far off when they call out to Jesus. There was no cure for the disease, only a lingering, hopeless existence as an outcast.

But here comes Jesus. Could he help? They cry out, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" (Luke 17:13 NIV). ἐλέησον (Eleison)! Have mercy!

Do you see the beginnings of faith there? Why call out to Jesus if they did not think he could help? Why call out if they did not believe he was merciful? Faith glorifies our Lord with pleas for mercy.

Let’s think about their plea. The Greek word is ἐλέησον (eleison), meaning "have mercy, have pity." Christians have called out those words in our liturgy for a millennium and a half. How many times haven’t you sung: "Lord, have mercy on us," "Kyrie eleison"? Have you thought about those words?

2. What kind of harmful attitude infects us?

I think their meaning is often lost on us. We parrot them but not with the same attitude as those ten lepers. For you see, we live in an age that expects others to help. It’s our entitlement. Oh yes, if you can make it through life without needing help that’s best. But if you do need it, society owes it to you. It’s your right. For example, throughout history the government has taken money to run its country. We call that taxes. But now many expect the government to give them money if they need it. It’s their entitlement, their security.

Or maybe think about that controversy in Tennessee. A fire department let a house burn down because it was outside the city limits and the owner had not paid the annual fee required to have fire coverage out there. We might argue that the fire department had an ethical obligation to help. But did the owner have a right to expect it, as if they owed it to him? Of course, not.

As children of our age, we fall into that kind of attitude. We don’t want to feel needy. So we don’t ask for help. But if we do need help, we convince ourselves that society owes it to us. "Someone better off than me ought to take care of it." And how often doesn’t that feeling overflow into our spiritual life so that we feel that God owes us a fair deal as well?

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