Summary: Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus: Receiving Mercy
Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:
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.
The lepers knew what they wanted and they asked him for it. Sometimes we don’t know what we want and worse we don’t want to be healed, our situation resolved, or our heart changed because we really like our present condition. They are healed as they departed and headed to the priest to show themselves clean as required by the law (Luke 5:14; Lev 13:19; 19:1-4). They trusted his word, simple faith.
Jesus’ ministry proclaimed and demonstrated the kingdom. His words proclaimed the kingdom; his works demonstrated the kingdom (Luke 4:18-20;7:22; Acts 10:38). His message met the need of sinful humanity, their sinfulness. His demonstrations of the kingdom, then and today, are to cultivate faith that the kingdom is a present reality. Our God reigns. He has given each of us the power and authority to proclaim and demonstrate the kingdom. We are to proclaim King Jesus and pray for the sick, and set the captives free (v. 20-21).
Take Home – Gods power mercy comes when trust evidence by obedience.
2. The Response of the Lepers (vs. 15-19)
Ten are healed but one only returns to thank Jesus, a Samaritan. Samaritans were half-breeds from the Northern Kingdom of Israel. In 722 BC the Assyrians defeated the Northern Kingdom. The king of Assyria deported all noblemen, leaders, etc (those with influence) and imported Babylonians into the land. By doing this the nationality, culture, religion, etc of Judaism would be diluted as the Jews intermarried with the foreigners thus removing the threat of rebellion against the Assyrians. This created enmity with Jews from the Southern Kingdom (John 4:9) that existed to Jesus’ day. So Samaritans were looked down upon as scum because they were half breeds. Yet he is the one who responds but the nine Jews did not (ie Jer 26:10-15).