Summary: A sermon for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost
19th Sunday after Pentecost
"Lord Have Mercy"
Traveling one day along the border between Galilee and Samaria, on His way to Jerusalem, the Lord Jesus approached a village where ten seriously ill men came out to meet Him. Ten lepers met Jesus, ten men afflicted by the worst disease imaginable in Jesus’ day. Leprosy was incurable, leprosy was disgusting, leprosy was revolting. Leprosy was considered proof that you were the vilest kind of sinner. God was really punishing you for something really bad. If you had leprosy, you actually watched your body rot away. Your fingers, your ears, your nose dropped off. You died a slow and painful death, cut off from society, cut off from family and the only friendships you had were others like you. Nine others in this case that kept reminding you as you looked at them how really bad you were. Ten lepers, ten dying, decaying, stinking wretches met Jesus and cried, "Jesus Master Have mercy on Us."
They must have known this was their only chance to escape the awful consequences of their disease. If Jesus did nothing for them, surely their lives would end in a slow painful death.
"Jesus, Master, have mercy on us " Can you imagine that air was filled with tension as the ten lepers, as ten lives hung on the words or actions of the Man of Galilee.
"Jesus, Master, Have Mercy on Us".
He didn’t touch them.
"Jesus Master, Have mercy on us".
He didn’t wash them.
"Jesus, Master have mercy on us."
He didn’t even pray for them.
Finally, finally after what seemed to be an eternity for these desperate men, Jesus spoke: "Go, show yourselves to the priests." In other words, Jesus was saying, go to the priests for certificates of cleansing. They weren’t healthy--but they were to go and get a health certificate to proclaim they were healed. Jesus said, "Go get a physical examination."
Can you imagine their situation. They must have stood and looked at each other and then started to debate this command. They might have said, "But we have already been there and they couldn’t do anything for us. You have got to be kidding.
Go show ourselves to the priests. They had surely expected something more, something else. Something of their desperation, and their growing, but doubting faith and confidence led these ten men to turn and start walking toward the priests. Something about this man of Galilee led them to obey, to go, to do what they had done before, but this time Jesus had told them to go.
Then it happened. At some point, some instant--quite by surprise---those ten outcast lepers were changed. Every diseased cell in their bodies were changed. Every cell suddenly sprang into full health signaled by an unseen force. A force of events which began in a twinkle of an eye, in a flash of excitement as one of the ten noticed his body becoming healthy.
Who was the first to notice? We don’t know, but with tremendous swiftness the reaction must have sped through the group. In amazement, they stopped, looked at their hands, their feet, at each others ears, they were whole, they had been changed, Jesus had done it again. His reputation was true. Ten suffering human beings had been touched by the Son of God. Ten suffering men had encountered the touch of a loving God. Ten suffering men had been touched by the creating hand of God that was still very much at work in his world.
Can you picture them bounding down the road to the priest, now running, now leaping, now dancing, wondering how the priest would react... anticipating the glee, the excitement of their families as they would return home--healthy, alive, with a health certificate proclaiming to all what had happened. All ten men caught up in the joy, the excitement of the moment.
But one of them halts in his tracks. He stops, he smiles, he turns, now walking, now running...back to the Master, back to this man of Galilee, back to this one who touched him with this mysterious force. He comes back, "shouting, laughing, proclaiming glory to God with a joyful and thankful heart." He runs back to Jesus, falls at his feet and gives the Son of God thanks for the great healing that had been done.
Only one of the ten who were touched by the love of this man of Galilee had seen beyond the miracle of healing to the one who had dared to risk for him. He saw Jesus for who he was? One who cared, one who loved, one who wanted a relationship with everyone on the face of the earth.
He saw the Son of God as a man of love, a builder of relationships, he saw the miracle as Jesus’ way of building a bridge between the fallen creation, the brokenness of disease and the loving hand of God who wants to reach into that brokenness with his creating and redeeming power, He saw Jesus.