Summary: how jesus had pity on the 10 lepers
October 28, 2001 Luke 17:11-19
11 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!”
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Dear Friends and Children of Our Savior,
It often troubles me to go through an instruction class - Bible Information Class - Confirmation Class - or even a Sunday morning Bible class - and see an individual or group answer questions on a piece of paper - but ask no questions - express no fears or concerns. I fear that I am producing an army of catechetical soldiers - able to recite doctrines and tell me what Original Sin means, but have no inkling of what it is and how it affects them. How could it be that a congregation of 120 people has not had one sin bother them so much or temptation as to call their pastor over it or bring it up in a Bible class? There has to come a time where the doctrine goes from the head to the heart. Either we are completely holy or we are completely blind. Could it be that nobody is struggling with sin? Or are we too proud to admit our weaknesses and sins?
The request of the lepers in today’s text reflects men who were in dire straits. They weren’t too proud to ask for help, and even beg for it. Oh that God would install such an attitude in us, where we would cry out to the Lord –
Jesus, Master, Have Pity On Us!
Ten men who were suffering from leprosy approached Jesus and called out to him yelling, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” What do you think of the word “pity”? It isn’t a very positive word is it? When we refer to someone as “pitiful”, it usually implies that they are too lazy to help themselves and they want other people to take care of them. For instance, when my son comes crying to me that his fork fell on the ground, I consider him to be acting in a “pitiful” manner - because he could very easily pick up that fork, clean it off and use it, instead of crying about it. So if we were to ask someone to have pity on us, that would imply that we are in a seemingly helpless position which we have gotten ourselves into.
In biblical times, people often looked at leprosy and other diseases as punishment for specific sins. It would be kind of like if you got AIDS in today’s world from a blood transfusion, some would assume that you got it from leading an immoral lifestyle. But such is not always the case. Leprosy was a contagious skin disease that was very common back in those times. It resulted in the formation of lumps, sores and other deformities on the skin and limbs of a person - often causing a person to literally fall apart at the seams. The disease can be transmitted in a number of ways, and it usually had nothing to do with the kind of lifestyle a person was living. It was more a matter of what some would call today “dumb luck”.
What’s the question we often ask when things like this happen to us? We think to ourselves, “why is this happening in me?” When the World Trade Centers were bombed, the world cried out “how could God allow this happen?” But notice what these men do. They don’t call out, “JESUS, WHY did this happen to us?” They simply said, “Jesus MASTER - have PITY on us!” Instead of blaming Jesus for the condition they were in, they humbly asked him for help. In faith, they turned to Jesus their Master realizing that he was the only hope they had left.
Isn’t this life of the lepers a good illustration of the spiritual condition that we were born in? Psalm 51 verse five says, surely I was sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. After the fall, God looked at mankind and said, every inclination of his heart is only evil all the time. Not only were we born with sinful flesh, but our minds our hearts and our souls were also contaminated with sin within and without. And so we live in the world that – like a person with leprosy - is falling apart - both materially and spiritually. Children are suing their parents, parents are murdering their children, terrorists are killing thousands of people, and the economy of the world is going down the tubes. There are many people in the world blaming God for this condition. But he wasn’t the one who ate from the tree. He wasn’t the one who broke the rules. Man was. And it doesn’t do any good to shake your finger at God and get angry at him for what’s going on in the world. It would be better to follow the lepers who said, “Jesus, Master, Have Pity On Us!”