Summary: This is on gratitude. We followed up with communion. The asterisks in the text were related to click through PowerPoint slides.
There were many things you didn’t want to be in Jesus’ time two of them were a leper or a Samaritan.
Brief synopsis of leprosy (not meant to gross you out): loss of feeling/nerve endings that cause sores.
Samaritans were considered half-breeds.
A funny thing happened when a Samaritan contracted leprosy. He quickly had Jewish friends; well the Jews that had leprosy anyway. “Misery loves company.” More accurately, when we are in trouble, we tend not to look at surface things that divide us.
*Read Luke 17:11-19.
The lepers “stood at a distance” because the Law* required them to stay at a distance from all people except their fellow lepers. They were to call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” as people approached. *Lev. 13 and *Numbers 5. The legal distance for lepers to stay away was about a half of a football field.* Imagine the isolation that they felt.
Jesus had a reputation. (Explain.) They called out to him. Why? What did they expect? Charity (money or food)? Or, healing?
Do you notice something interesting about this passage? Jesus doesn’t tell them right away that they are healed. In many miracles he did that, but not here. He simply told them to go see the priest. That was the requirement of the Law for one who was healed leprosy. The priest was required to inspect them, to make sure. They had to offer the proper sacrifices and so forth. They didn’t argue with Jesus’ command. They simply obeyed in faith, and went as commanded. While they were going, a miracle happened; they were healed.
Can you imagine the feeling? They healing power of God coursing through you veins as they awful, debilitating, ostracizing disease left your body. *No doubt they were all overjoyed. *
They all experienced the cleansing. One of them, the oft-hated Samaritan, wheeled around to came back to Jesus. **He ran back to Jesus grabbed his feet and thanked him profusely.
Was Jesus expecting a “thank-you”? I don’t know. *He interrogates the man. *Read v. 17-18.
I find it interesting that the one who would be considered a racial enemy of Jesus was the only one who bothered to come back. We don’t know the racial make-up of the other nine. They could have all been Jews, or all Samaritans, or a mixture. The point is that one who had the least in common with Jesus came back.
*What does all this tell us about anything?
I. *Jesus hears our groan.
Jesus always stopped to help someone in need. On his way to heal Jairus’ daughter, he stopped to heal the woman who reached out to touch the edge of his robe. He didn’t tell her to wait her turn.
On several occasions the Psalmist asks God to “hear my prayer” or to “hear my cry.”
Jesus heard the cries of these men. Likely the leprosy had affected their ability to speak loudly or to yell. In all the commotion, though, Jesus heard their cries from half a football field away. When they cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us,” the force of those words is: “please feel sympathy with our misery.”
*What are you crying out to Jesus about today? He hears it. Whatever it is, he hears it. Jesus feels sympathy with our misery. Not only does he hear, but…
II. *Jesus heals our grief.
These poor men had been social outcasts for however long they had their dreaded disease. It could have been years. They were shunned. They were gawked at. Perhaps, at times, they were the recipients of mercy from some kind people who may have given them some spare change or leftover food. Even if they were to receive that kind of help, there was no contact with anyone, except their fellow lepers.
Jesus had encountered a leper in Mark 1, and it says that he was “moved with pity.”
Jesus healed countless people, many of whom are not even recorded in the scriptures.
*Have you ever experienced the healing power of Jesus? Maybe you have had a physical malady that required a miracle. Perhaps it was emotional, relational, or spiritual. Anyone who is a child of God has had a spiritual healing. Not only does he heal, but…
III. *Jesus hears our gratitude.
No doubt, it did Jesus’ good to hear the one thankful former leper express his gratitude.
It is nice to be told thank you. Every one of us likes to hear those words. That is one of the great blessings of serving a meal at the community shelter. When someone says, “Thank you,” it seems to make the effort worthwhile. (BTW, if you haven’t gone with us to the community shelter, you are missing out, big time. Our next time is Sept. 30.)
That is one of the problems with human nature. We are so stinking ungrateful a lot of the time.