Summary: Are you willing to risk an encounter with Jesus? This is a new look at a very familiar scripture Passage
Risk Taking- Risk Blessing
This morning’s scripture lesson one we probable have all heard before. It is about the 10 lepers who call out to Jesus asking him to have mercy on them. Jesus does indeed have mercy on them. He tells them to show themselves to the priest. He did this because that was the procedure for being pronounced clean. There are Old Testament customs and procedures that need to be followed before a healed person could return to the community.
The story continues, as they are walking, all ten are completely healed. One of the 10… A tithe of lepers, decides to return to thank Jesus. Now in the past I have, and most preachers do use these verses to show that we are at all times and in all places to give thanks for the many blessings god gives us through Jesus Christ. We are to have an attitude of gratitude. And this is a very valid and useful way to look at these passages.
But, I have always been bothered by this passage. Not that there is anything wrong with the thankfulness message. But it still was a puzzlement. I believe that my problem with the passage really stems from a quiz I took back at West Carrollton Junior High School. You see I had a teacher named Mr. Galvin. And on one faithful day he gave the class a test. His pretest instructions were clear. “Read all the directions before you start, no talking , no questions, ” . Well, a quick glace and I began. The first 5 questions were fairly easy. But then the questions began to get MUCH more difficult. I’m not sure but I believe the last 5 questions dealt with quantum physics!
Yet to my amazement, about 15-20 minutes into the test, some of my classmates had completed the test and were on their way out to an early lunch. When the class bell finally rang, I was frustrated and wonder when did he ever go through this in class?
Mr. Galvin stood up and announced to the 10-15 of us that were still there “Don’t bother finishing. I know you all failed.” What! This was unfair! He then asked, “what were your instructions?” Well, someone, not me, said read all the instructions. I grabbed my paper and the last sentence in the directions said. “Ignore all previous instructions. Answer questions 1-5. Look like you are working for at least 15 minutes (Do not all come up and once) then leave for lunch.
Now, I can’t say that I always read instructions. I truly believe that some manufactures add extra parts just to make assembly more challenging.
Ok now do you see what my problem with this scripture is? It is simple. 9 out of the 10 lepers were smart enough to follow instructions. One was not! Jesus’ reaction for me was puzzling. When he praises the one who returned. I expected something like…What part of Go! Show yourself to the priest, didn’t you understand?
So with this, I’ll call it unique perspective, I began to think and pray about this sermon. I decided to look at the passage through a different perspective. Let’s look at it from the perspective of risk. First, is the risk all ten lepers took in coming to Jesus. Let’s face it with health issues, people forget about civil rights. Fear will drive people to do anything to protect themselves. If a leper comes too close to a healthy person, it is more than likely that the healthy crowd will turn and attack with stones in order to protect themselves from being infected. That is why they had to cry out “unclean” whenever they came near people. So lets look at the situation again.
They already have a dreadful disease. It is slow and painful. But if they go near a crowed, they just might get stoned to death. Yet they took the risk and made their way to the crowd. To Jesus. And they even risk the wrath of the crowd by calling out from the distance. They call, Jesus, Master, Have pity on Us.”
By now you all know what His instructions are. They were>>> (Let the congregation answer)
Immediately, they follow the directions and good things begin to happen. They are all healed. Now the scriptures don’t say that the other 9 men actually went to see the priests but if they wanted to be proclaimed clean, (Rituals etc.) so that they could return to the community, they eventually had to.
In my mind, I hear a conversation. All are first amazed and joyful. When one man suggests that they all go back and thank Jesus for the miracle , I hear a rebuttal, But he told us to go show ourselves to the priests? If we don’t go, it may not stick. Someone else might say. Look, that crowd didn’t look too happy to see us. We risked their wrath because we had nothing to loose. Now they could kill us if they see us coming again. It’s not worth the risk!