Summary: Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus: Receiving Mercy

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Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:

Receiving Mercy

Luke 17:11-21

November 22, 2009

Jesus has been heading toward Jerusalem for some time (9:52) bent on reaching his destination and fulfilling his destiny. He enters a village and encounters ten lepers who beg him for mercy. Jesus cleanses/heals them all yet only one returns to worship him – a Samaritan.

1. The Encounter with Jesus (vs. 11-14)

Jesus is met by ten lepers, standing off at a distance, begging for mercy; wanting to be healed. Leprosy in the bible is a large category of skin problems. The disease was seen as a curse from God and those who had it were ostracized from the community. It made one ritually unclean so they could not participate in the synagogue. If they came near anyone they were to yell out unclean, unclean, so another Jew would not get near them and become unclean themselves (Lev 13:45-46; Num 5:2-3). That is why they are standing at a distance from Jesus. So these lepers are physically ill, spiritually wounded, and emotionally scarred. You can feel this in their crying out, begging for mercy. They call him Master, a word used only by Luke and in every other instance is used by the disciples, his close friends. They recognize Jesus as more than just a teacher but as someone who could heal them. In contrast, the Pharisees did not believe they deserved compassion or mercy. They got what they deserved, that is why they had leprosy. They came to Jesus because their own spiritual leaders did not want to deal with messy, sinful people so the messy, sinful people went to Jesus. Jesus offered what their spiritual leaders did not – free and generous grace. Jesus welcomed and befriended the down and outers, the outcasts, the sinners, and freely offered them grace and mercy. None of us will see our need for Jesus until we see our need for grace and mercy. And that was offensive to the Pharisees, the religious moralists, who believed that they did not need grace and mercy? But all of us are unworthy. None of us deserves God’s grace or mercy. The Lepers, the tax collectors, the spiritually unclean, they were the ones who recognized their unworthiness (not worthless) but the Pharisees did not. So the Pharisees did not see their need for Jesus. The good news of the gospel is that our God who is holy, righteous, and just and humanity is sinful to the core, every impulse of the human heart is wicked and evil. That creates a problem – God is just and sin must be accounted for. If God did not punish sin, he would be unjust. So God, to display his glory expressed his extravagant love, grace, and mercy sent his son to pay the penalty for sin. Jesus willingly and joyfully took the wrath of God upon himself. When we acknowledge our sin and turn from it, we experience a spiritual birth, becoming children of God. This gospel was offensive to the Pharisees. They did not see themselves as sinful, that is a religious moralist. So Jesus’ message and ministry was offensive and that ultimately why they crucified him.

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