We open our Bibles to the Word of God to hear God speak to us. The text is Luke 17, Luke 17. These are wonderful, wonderful days in our study of the gospel of Luke. We walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are walking with Him at this section in the gospel of Luke toward Jerusalem. For many months He has crisscrossed Israel preaching the gospel of the kingdom, doing many miracles and healings, casting out demons, showing compassion and sympathy, tenderness and mercy, also speaking firmly about judgment and hell and punishment, proclaiming the full counsel of God to awaken the people of Israel to the necessity of looking to Him as their Savior and Redeemer.
In the 17th chapter of Luke, we come to verses 11 through 19. During this period of Jesus' journeys which really began in chapter 9 verse 51 when it's recorded that He moved in the direction of Jerusalem, we're in the final months of Jesus' life. It isn't a direct route. It's taking months to finally arrive for the last time in Jerusalem. He will make that arrival in chapter 19 verse 28. He will go into Jerusalem through Jericho in the 18th chapter, so we're getting close to that great moment.
During this time of months and months of ministry there were many healings, and many miracles, and many casting out of demons. And there were multiple times of teaching and ministering as He moved with His disciples and apostles around the land. Luke, however, records five miracles for us. They aren't the only five by any means. During the time of His ministry, He nearly banished disease from the whole of Israel. There is no way to even calculate the number of His miracles. Even the New Testament testifies to the fact that the things that He said and done couldn't be contained in the books of the world.
But we do have five miracles during this journey period. This is the fourth miracle. The first three involve one person. The last one involves two in Jericho when Jesus heals two blind men. Luke focuses on one; Matthew fills us in on the other one. But here is a miracle that involves ten people, ten people with the most terrible disease. The disease is leprosy. Let's pick up the story as it begins in the record of Luke in verse 11.
"And it came about while He was on the way to Jerusalem that He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered a certain village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him. And they raised their voices saying, 'Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.' And when He saw them He said to them, 'Go and show yourselves to the priests.' And it came about that as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back glorifying God with a loud voice and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him, and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answered and said, 'Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine, where are they? Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God except this foreigner?' And He said to him, 'Rise and go your way, your faith has saved you.'"
Here is an amazing miracle, the simultaneous instant healing of ten men with leprosy. Some of you will remember that back in the 5th chapter of Luke during the ministry of Jesus in Galilee there is an account of the healing of a leper there, chapter 5 verses 12 and following. This one is that ten times. This is a demonstration of divine power that is unmistakable and undeniable. And I might add as a footnote, never did the Jewish people or their leaders deny the miracle power of Jesus, never. There was absolutely no way they could. Nor could they deny His compassion and sympathy toward those who suffered and in Christ God was manifesting His compassion as much as His power because the miracles Jesus did were miracles of mercy on people who suffered.
Lepers were, of all people, the most to be avoided. Obviously these people had the real leprosy. That's why it tells us they stood at a distance. Jesus then demonstrates on this occasion compassion, sympathy, and power. And also, undoes what the people would have assumed would be a divine curse. As we learned through the gospel record, the people had the idea that sickness came as a result of sin. And leprosy, of all things, so horrific, was viewed as a divine judgment. And so here is Jesus, sympathetic, compassionate, powerful and overturning divine judgment. In this case then you have a stunning miracle by all perspectives.
In that miracle with regard to the leper in Luke 5, He told him not to tell anybody because it was such a stunning thing to heal a leper, not only from the sympathy side and the power side, but the overturning of what they perceived as a divine curse. He told that first leper in Luke 5 don't tell anybody because it could foment overwhelming enthusiasm, unrealistic messianic expectations and bring to bear upon Him undue pressure that could force Him out of His Father's timetable. But that was long ago. Here He doesn't tell them that because it's very near already to the Father's timetable for the cross.
Leprosy can be a general word, lepis in the Greek, meaning scaly and is a word that can be used to describe a number of skin diseases. They could be of various kinds, not very serious to the worst kind which is created by a bacillus, a bacteria, that is the disease we know as leprosy. This is such a serious and such a communicable disease that the Old Testament made prescriptions about people who had it. And, in fact, this is a very ancient disease. It has been found in mummies, so it goes way back. Medical historians believe that leprosy originated in Egypt where it was found in a very ancient mummy.
Leviticus chapter 13 and 14 lays out a very long and careful prescription for determining whether somebody had this disease. And the local health inspectors were the priests. That was part of their function. Since they were responsible to know the law of God and apply the law of God and since this was laid out in the law of God, if you had a skin disease of any kind, you went to the priest and you went through a process of all that was required in Leviticus 13 and 14 so there could be a determination as to what exactly you had. And if it is discovered that you have that communicable disease called leprosy that's so horrific, you were then removed from all social contact and the only people you could ever associate with were other lepers. It was the worst, the absolute worst. The people you needed most, the loving family and friends, you couldn't come near. You couldn't associate with other people in the synagogue or any social environment whatsoever. You were an alien from all of life and left only with others in your same horrific misery. So these were the most miserable of all people, believing that they had been cursed by God and cursed by man as well. And when Jesus comes, they are healed. It is an astounding and incredible healing from all human viewpoints.
Let me just tell you a little bit about leprosy without going into unnecessary detail. This severe type of leprosy is caused by a bacteria. It attacks the nerves and the skin. It anesthetizes the body and the limbs so that feeling is lost. And then the potential for serious injury becomes large. It starts, we're told, with a whit or pink patch of skin usually on the brow, the nose, the ear, the cheek, the chin and the head. The patch then begins to spread in all directions, a portion of the eyebrows disappears; spongy, tumorous swellings grow, first of all, all over the face and then begin to descend all over the body as the disease becomes systemic. It becomes also involved with the internal organs as well as the skin. Fingers and toes can be absorbed into the body, literally absorbing themselves into the body because of the bacillus invading the bone marrow, impairing blood supply, causing the bones to shrivel and the rest of the body to shrivel as well. With the accompanying loss of feeling in the body due to nerve disease, the victim destroys his own tissue because he has no feeling. The bacillus can destroy the eye, causing blindness; penetrates the teeth so they fall out, penetrates all the bodily organs and affects the larynx so that one winds up with a weak and raspy voice.
The medical history on this is abundant. Just a few things that might help you understand this plight. The skin loses its original color, becomes thick, glossy, and scaly. As the sickness progresses, the thickened spots become dirty sores and ulcers due to poor blood supply. The skin, especially around the eyes and ears, begins to bunch with deep furrows between the swelling so that the face of the afflicted individual begins to resemble that of a lion. Fingers drop off or are absorbed. Toes are affected similarly. Eyebrows and eyelashes drop out. By this time, one can see the person in this pitiable condition is truly a leper. By the touch of the finger one can feel it. One can even smell it for a leper emits a very unpleasant odor, open sores. Morever, in view of the fact that the disease-producing agent frequently attacks the larynx, says this writer, the leper's voice acquires a grating quality.
Dr. Paul Brand is the modern, world-renowned expert on leprosy, gives us some wonderful insight in a modern up-to-date look. It's called Hansen's Disease, HD. It is cruel, not at all the way other diseases are. It primarily acts as an anesthetic, numbing the pain cells of hands, feet, nose, eyes, ears. Not so bad really, one might think; most diseases are felt because of their pain. What makes a painless disease so horrible? Hansen's Disease's numbing quality is precisely the reason it is so horrible. For thousands of years people thought this disease caused the ulcers on hands and feet and face which eventually led to rotting flesh and loss of limbs. Mainly through Dr. Brand's research it's been established that in 99 percent of the cases HD only numbs the extremities, the destruction follows solely because the warning system of pain is gone. Basically people destroy their own limbs.
How does the decay happen? In villages of Africa and Asia, a person with HD has been known to reach directly into a charcoal fire to retrieve a dropped potato. Nothing in his body tells him not to. Patients at Brand's hospital in India would work all day gripping a shovel with a protruding nail or extinguish a burning wick with their bare hands or walk on splintered glass. Watching them, Brand began formulating his radical theory that HD was chiefly anesthetic and only indirectly a destroyer. On one occasion he tried to open the door of a little storeroom but a rusty padlock would not yield. A patient, an undersized, malnourished, ten-year-old approached him smiling, "Let me try, Sahib Doctor," he offered and reached for the key. With a quick jerk of his hand, he turned the key in the rusty lock. Brand was dumbfounded. How could this weak youngster show more strength than him? His eyes caught a tell-tale clue. Was that a drop of blood on the floor? Upon examining the boy's fingers, Brand discovered the act of turning the key had gashed the finger open to the bone. Skin, fat, and joint were all exposed yet the boy was completely unaware of it.
The daily routine of life grinds away at the HD patient's hands and feet. No warning system alerts him. If an ankle is turned, tearing tendon and muscle, he will adjust and walk crooked. If a rat chews off a finger in the night, he will not discover it even missing until the next morning. And so the sad story goes.
Stanley Stein went blind because of another quirk of HD. Each morning he would wash his face with a hot washcloth. But neither his hand nor his face was sensitive enough to temperature to warning him that he was using scalding water, gradually destroyed his eyes. That's how it worked.
The disease went from ten to thirty years with victims usually dying from low resistance, other diseases, or infections. It can be easily transmitted by inhalation or bodily contact or even contact with the clothing. That's why the clothing are involved in Leviticus 13 prescriptions. Since 1982, by the way, so you know that, there has been an effective treatment that can kill the bacterium. Still there are probably a million and a half cases in the world, mostly in third world countries where they don't have that kind of protection. This disease is still with us.
In biblical times the effect was so severe and the potential for wiping out a population was so great that God laid down prescriptions. "Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper." Put him out. This is too horrific, too horrible to leave these people in any proximity to the healthy. God even used leprosy as a punishment. The Jews had a reason that they saw it as a curse of God. Naaman was a leper by divine punishment. Uz...Uzziah was a leper by divine punishment. Being a leper was the worst, and they had a lot of lepers in Israel, as Luke 4:27 says. There were many lepers in the day of Elijah and Elisha; obviously they were still there in the day of Jesus. Religiously, socially defiled in every way; no family, no job, no friends, no worship, no hope, they were walking illustrations of sin, they were walking illustrations of divine judgment, horrific life. Little wonder that when Jesus came to their village, they cried out to Him collectively.
Now as we look at the story, you're going to see an amazing story of divine goodness, tenderness, compassion, mercy. You're going to see an amazing story of divine power, to reverse that disease, to bring it to a screeching halt and restore fully all ten people to their pure and whole condition. As in the case of all of Jesus' miracles, they were instantaneous and complete. It is also an astounding story of ingratitude, shocking. It is also a wonderful story, more importantly, of gratitude, worship and salvation.
I want us to look at the story as a story. But I can't help but think this story is intended by the Spirit of God to be more than just a story for its own sake. I have to believe that this is also a parable. Most of Jesus' parables were stories that He invented. But many other things that happened in His life are marvelous analogies and illustrations, and this certainly is one. First, the story, then we'll see its broader implications.
Verse 11: "It came about while He was on the way to Jerusalem." Sometime during this circuitous movement through Israel in the final months as He's preaching the gospel, headed finally to Jerusalem for the last time, this happened. By the way, during that period He went to Jerusalem three times but they were not the final time where He would go to the Passover and die. He went for the feasts. He went to a Feast of Tabernacles, recorded in John 7 and 8. He went to the Feast of Dedication recorded in John 9 and 10. And He went a third time near Jerusalem to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. So He's moving in and around all of that area.
At some point in this journey He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. That's not very definitive, but I'll just give you a little bit of a hint. When He went for the third time to make a brief visit to Jerusalem on the way to the final one, the third time He raised Lazarus from the dead. According to John 11:54 when He did that, He left and went north after the healing...or the raising of Lazarus because He knew this would raise the stakes among the leaders who wanted Him dead because this was a powerful miracle in great proximity to Jerusalem, raising a dead man. And so to avoid a too-early encounter with the leaders, out of God's timetable He went north. According to John 11:54 when He went north He went to a place called Ephraim. Ephraim happens to be in the region here described as between Samaria and Galilee. So it is very likely that this is that occasion. He has already raised Lazarus from the dead. He has left. He has moved north. He will go north. He'll spend some time up there. He'll actually even go into Galilee. He will maybe reassemble with some of the people He knows, family and friends, and then make His final trek down for the last Passover through Jericho into Jerusalem by chapter 19 verse 28. So it is that kind of timeframe that we think is best in discerning this occasion.
And as He is moving in the region between Samaria and Galilee, He entered a certain village, which He did week after week after week, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and demonstrating His compassion and His power through the miraculous. He entered a certain village unnamed. "Ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him." That little phrase "at a distance" indicates that their disease was the real leprosy and not some other skin disease that could fall under the term lepis. This was the real thing that made them outcast alien. They were the miserable people. And they kept their distance because it was demanded of them, Leviticus 13:45 and 46; Numbers 5:2 and 3; Numbers 12:14 and 15; 2 Kings 7:3 all indicate to us that they had to keep their distance for reasons I've already described. So they only came as near as they dared to come and it says they remained at a distance. And it says in verse 13, "They raised their voices." Their feeble voices with their affected larynx, they raised them, I guess, in a strange choral cacophony saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us."
“Master,” interesting. Of all the words they might have chosen, they chose “Master.” In the Greek it's epistatēs. It's used only by Luke and only here is it used to refer to Christ by any other than His followers. It was a word of some weight. It was a word of some honor. In fact, epistatēs is a word that speaks of someone who has notable authority, or notable power, even miraculous power, of course. And that's why it's used to apply to Jesus. So here these men are borrowing a word that affirms they recognized the notable authority and power of Jesus, which is to say that they had had some exposure to His power and His abilities. They knew His reputation; let's put it that way. They may have known it from the massive healings that He had done in His Galilee ministry, or from His healings in the Judean ministry prior to that and since leaving Galilee in chapter 9 and coming through the area of Judea He had done many more miracles. His reputation was widely known.
This was their only hope. This was their only chance. They had no way out of their dilemma. There were no cures. There were no solutions. Their faith may be meager but they are desperate men. What other option do they have? And so they say, "Have mercy on us," a phrase that recognizes that one is in a pitiful condition, that one is unable to solve a problem, that one is in a dilemma about which he can do nothing and must depend upon a superior power. That's why they ask for mercy. Have mercy on us, a common expression. By the way, in Matthew, Mark and Luke this is commonly the expression used by people who are asking Jesus to heal them. And we're going to find it again in the 18th chapter when the blind man says, "Have mercy on me,” meaning show me pity and power, You are one greater than I am, You are one who is known to have power to deal with my infirmity. It expresses a recognition of superior power and one who at the same time is approachable. Not just a recognition of power but to cry "Have mercy!" assumes that someone before has indicated to you that this man listens to people who cry for mercy. So His power and His compassion are widely known. They're aware of it, aware enough of it to cry out to Him for healing.
Verse 14, "When He saw them He said to them..." By the way, the leper in chapter 5 He went near and touched him. Jesus had no reluctance to go near lepers or to touch lepers. In this case, He didn't do that. I don't know what the circumstances were, but He didn't go to them, He simply said to them, verse 14, "Go and show yourselves to the priest." Now that seems like a very strange thing to say. Why didn't He say, "Be healed”? Why did He say, "Go and show yourselves to the priest”? Because He's doing a couple of things here. He's testing their faith. It may have been a meager faith, but this is a good test. He's also affirming the viability of divine law. He knew Leviticus 13 and 14, of course. And He is upholding that law. "Go show yourselves to the priest." That's exactly what He told the leper in chapter 5 verse 14, because leprosy required that. You had to go to the priest. There was a rather long and involved protocol you went through. The priests, as I said, were the health inspectors. You went to the priest. You went through the whole thing. It was an eight-day process that could be repeated another eight days and another. It could even lead to necessary sacrifices. It could even take you all the way to Jerusalem to make those sacrifices before the priest would pronounce you clean. So He says, "Go show yourselves to the priest."
That is a pretty big assumption. You wouldn't want to go anywhere near the priest if you still had leprosy. You'd be going to the wrong people. You'd be going to the health inspectors with your disease.
But Jesus commands them to do it, to fulfill the obligation of the law and they did it. That's what desperation will do for you. Do they have faith? Sure they have faith. They have a meager, basic faith in a healer. They have faith in the power and compassion of Jesus because it says, verse 14, "It came about that as they were going they were cleansed." One of the things that stuns me every time I read a story of a miracle is the understatement of it. You would expect maybe something like "And then the sky grew black and it began to thunder and lightning bolts flashed and angels began to sing and Jesus said, 'Be healed,' and the earth shook." No, never. No fanfare, no hoopla, no histrionics. They just started walking....shhhhh. They're made new, healed.
It's just in the normal course of being God. It's just another moment of being God. And they knew that they had to have that healing verified. Leviticus 13 and 14...Leviticus 14 even prescribes what you do when it is verified. There are ceremonies and washings and sacrifices and all those kinds of things and lepers are touched in certain places, a tip of the ear, and it's a huge thing when somebody is being certified that they're cleansed from leprosy. And Jesus sent the first leper in chapter 5 to the priest and He sends these ten to the priest. And there's a wonderful footnote on that. The priests who rejected Jesus, as you know... There were a few who believed on Him finally at the end, but en masse they pretty much rejected Jesus, the priests. And here come ten lepers and they're going to have to validate this healing so they're going to become very reluctant, very unwilling witnesses to the compassion and the power of Jesus and they're going to be very clear eyewitnesses to the fact that Jesus overruled any assumption that these men were cursed by God. This is some kind of power. The priests would be forced to confirm the supernatural power of Jesus. Really if they were honest, forced to confirm His deity and as well His adherence to the law. So they became reluctant witnesses to His deity when the men arrived and went through the process. That part of it isn't in the story. For eight days though, at least, the men would be living testimonies to the power of Jesus' divine power. The priests would have to validate that publicly.
So they believed in the reputation of Jesus. They believed in His healing powers, these lepers, and they were desperate and they obeyed, knowing that He had clearly demonstrated that power in Israel. They really had no other option and as they were going, they were cleansed. Were they cleansed because they believed? Well it was a meager faith and Jesus asked them to demonstrate that meager faith. They were basically healed because He chose to heal them, but He involved their faith in it. There were times when Jesus healed people because they believed. There were many times when He healed people who didn't believe. In fact, there were times when He raised dead people and they can't believe. So there were times when faith played a role, and times when it did not. But in this case, He asked them to exhibit enough faith to do what He said.
Now the miracle must have been astounding. You can imagine them all of a sudden, all ten of them just looking at each other and saying, "Whoa..." They wouldn't see it maybe of themselves as quickly as they would see it of someone else and then it would dawn on them what happened. This is stunning, shocking, riveting, compelling, amazing moment and it is defined as they were cleansed which means nothing was left, katharizō, nothing was left. From the top to the bottom through all the system it was gone and they were back whole. All they...All alike started toward the priest, they all alike received a healing. But then the commonality was broken. Look at verse 15, "Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back." Only one? One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, came back from the brief moment in the direction of the priests, wherever the priests were, might have been local priests in that village or a nearby village. He stopped in his tracks, spun around and came back, full of joy, of course, full of amazement, full of wonder. He's trying to process what this meant. Think about all the implications of now being able to go back, family, friends, life. But he saw more than that, he saw a lot more than that. He understood the real implications of what had just happened. And what is that? He had been in the presence of God and he wanted more than physical healing. He went back embracing the full potential of getting from God what he knew he really needed. His heart was longing for a relationship with the divine Healer. He wanted to give himself to that divine Healer. He wanted to fall on his face beneath that divine Healer as a recognized sinner, and worship and adore Him, as well as praise Him and thank Him. He wanted something more than just a physical healing. He knew enough about the Old Testament to know that God was not just a healer but a Redeemer and primarily a Redeemer and a Savior. He's not content with just the physical. He understands the reality of his alienation and need for reconciliation to God.
So he comes back and he does three things. First, says, end of verse 15, "Glorifying God with a loud voice." Perhaps a voice that now was able to do what it hadn't been able to do for years. No more squeaky, raspy, leprosy-affected larynx. Now he could cry out with new vocal chords. This is a phōnēs megalēs, a big loud voice. Luke likes that. He has Elizabeth doing that when she was filled with the Holy Spirit in chapter 1. Even has an unclean spirit shouting with a loud voice when confronted with the power of the Son of God, Luke 8:28. This is Luke's way of expressing the idea of great emotion; it just burst out in a loud voice. He comes back at the top of his lungs glorifying God, meaning he knew where the power had come from, he knew who had healed him and he knew Jesus was more than a mere man because he doesn't just glorify God, he...notice it...verse 16, fell on his face at His feet. He worships Him. And he knew, but they all knew, Samaritan and Jew, that God and God alone was to be worshiped. He takes a worshiping posture.
And, thirdly: giving thanks to Him. He knew that it was God in Jesus that had given him this gift. He could not restrain his praise, he could not restrain his worship, he could not restrain his thanks, but his posture is there saying, "I want a relationship with You, I want everything You have to give." He knew he was in the presence of God.
Interesting way to look at that: What are the other nine guys doing? They're moving toward the priests, maybe with a view, we're going to go, we're clean, he's going to see it, we're clean then we're going to the temple. We're going to the temple, because you ultimately have to go there to make the sacrifices that are required of one who's been cleansed. We're going to the temple and when we get to the temple, sure we're grateful, we're excited, we're enthusiastic. This is an unbelievable thing. When we get to the temple we'll...We'll worship God where we should worship God, in the temple. We'll thank God there and we'll praise God when we get to the place where God dwells.
Hmm, guess what? God doesn't dwell in that temple. God hadn't been in that temple in a long, long time. Ichabod was written on that temple long ago when the glory departed. That was an apostate temple and an apostate form of religion. And that's why Jesus said, "The time is coming when you won't worship God in Jerusalem or in Mount Gerizim, because you're going to worship God in spirit and in truth and you're going to worship Him from the heart any place," but most significantly this man knew where to worship God, where God really dwelt. And where God really dwelt was in Jesus Christ. That was the real temple. He goes back to the true temple of God. He recognizes that wherever the compassion of God is, God is. Wherever the power of God is, God is. Wherever the grace of God is, God is. And that's where Jesus is and so that's where God is. Jesus is the true temple. God doesn't dwell in Jerusalem, He dwells in Jesus. And he knows it. And he also knows that God offers more than just a physical healing. That isn't the real issue in his life, that's only a temporal detail. He returns not just to be thankful for a healing. He returns to seek what his soul really desired and needed, salvation. How do I know that? Because that's exactly what Jesus gave him. And here's the punch line. "And he was a Samaritan," the least likely from a Jewish viewpoint to be healed, an outcast. The only reason he could associate with Jews at all was because they were all lepers and their common misery obviated the normal social separation.
According to John 4:9 the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans, they hated each other. Samaritans had intermarried with Gentiles and from a Jewish standpoint polluted their race, polluted their religion. They had a strange, hybrid religion on Mount Gerizim that the Jews despised. They had no relationships with them at all. They were forced together in their misery. Surely no one would expect God to heal a Samaritan. But not only did God heal one, but God saved another one. Started out saving Samaritans, remember? The first person to whom Jesus revealed His messiahship was a Samaritan woman in John 4.
And so this man knows that God is not like the people he's used to. God is not a racist. And he knows that God is a Savior and a Redeemer and he comes back and he worships. Verse 17, Jesus answered and said...and here are three rhetorical questions that drive home an important point of ingratitude and indifference. "Were there not ten cleansed?" The structure, by the way, expects a positive answer. "Were there not ten cleansed?" There were ten cleansed, weren't there? That would be another way to say that. And then He asks a second rhetorical question, "But the nine, where are they?" The “where” is last in sort of a punctuation point place of primacy. In other words, it would read like this in the original, "But the nine, they are where?" They ought to be here. They're where? No answer, presumably they're on the way to the priest.
They don't have any interest in Jesus anymore. They got what they wanted out of Him. They're very shallow, very superficial. They have no desire to worship Him, no desire to glorify Him, no desire to thank Him. They don't see Him as God. They don't fall down and give to Him what you only give to God. They don't glorify Him as God. And again we're face-to-face with this dominant attitude among these people that we see all through the ministry of Jesus. We are the people of God and God gives us what we deserve. Our souls are fine. No sense of sin. They're like the rich young ruler. No sense of remorse, no sense of desperation. They are not looking for a Savior from sin. They're looking for a political Messiah. They're looking for somebody who will feed them free food. They're looking for somebody who will heal all their diseases. They'll take that, they'll take the food, they'll take the healing, they'll take all that but they don't want anything else. We've got a lot of people in the evangelical world today who are offering that kind of Jesus. This one man knew he needed a Savior. He knew he had come face-to-face with God and his soul was traumatized. He knew he was a sinner, but he knew that God had showed him mercy and compassion, kindness, power. He could process the implications of what had just happened. The others, hard-hearted, impenitent, satisfied with themselves; sought nothing more from Jesus. And you know, the sad thing is He really doesn't have anything to offer you on a permanent basis unless it's eternal life and salvation. If you don't come to Him for that, you cheat yourself out of what really He came to bring.
And then He asks a third question. "Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God except this allogenēs, allogenēs? Genos, race... allos, another...except this man of another race. The word ”foreigner” was a strong word. Nobody came back except this man of another race? It reminds me of John 1:11, "He came unto His own, His own received Him not." By the way, that word allogenēs, “foreigner,” was written on the outer wall of the temple forbidding any foreigner from access to the temple precincts, the areas only allowed for the Jews. There was a Court of the Gentiles, but they couldn't go anywhere beyond that. He is a foreigner. He is one outside the Covenant, outside the people of God, outside the promises, outside the adoption. That's the... That's the real jolt. He's a Samaritan. He's a foreigner. He can't go into the forbidden, inner court of the temple, but instead he walks right back face-to-face with God Himself and goes into His own Holy of Holies. He couldn't get near the inner court, let alone the holy place, let alone the Holy of Holies in the temple, but he went straight into the Holy of Holies, fell on his face before the Holy One Himself and worshiped in humility and joy. And they walked away to their dead, blind, cold religion with no more interest in Jesus at all. And in verse 19 the story reaches its wonderful ending. "And He said to him," He knew what he wanted, "'Rise, go your way, fulfill the law, go back to the priest, your faith” .different faith, greater faith, “has saved you.'" The English is misleading. Many translations say, "Has made you well." Everybody was made well, all ten were made well. That's not a definitive ending to the story. The verb is not the word for “healed,” iaomai, which is used earlier in the story in verse 15. It's not the word for “cleansed,” katharizo, which is used also back earlier in the story in verse 14. It's the word sōzō. It's the word sōzō. It is the word for “salvation.” In the gospels it's used for that and in the epistles it's the word that's used for “saved” and “salvation.” It's translated that way, and I don't know why translators treat it arbitrarily. There are some contexts in which it can mean something less than salvation, but in the context where that's obvious it should be translated that way. For example, in Luke 7 Jesus forgives the sins of a woman and in verse 50 He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you." Same word, your faith has saved you. Here it's very obvious that this man has come back and he has come penitently, worshipfully and the Lord has healed his soul and given him salvation. It should then be translated as it is in chapter 7, verse 50: "Your faith has saved you.” This refers to a second miracle uniquely for this man.
What's the point of all this? There's a... There's a big point here, big picture. As I said, you see in this man trust and gratitude and humility and commitment and love and praise and worship, all components of a faith that's way beyond the other nine, right? It's a faith that embraces Jesus as God, as Lord. It's a faith that bows humbly in recognition of one's lowliness in His presence. It's a faith that Jesus says saves.
But it's not just a story of an individual, it's a parable. Of what? I can't help but look at the nine and believe that the Spirit of God would want me to see in those nine the general attitude of the Jews toward Jesus. They are representative of the general attitude toward Jesus. Give us healing, give us food, deliver us from demons, do miracles, but do not expect worship. Do not expect praise, adoration, thanks. Do not expect us to acknowledge you as God. Listen, this man fell down glorifying God. I believe He knew God was in Jesus. Obviously his theology wasn't fully developed. Then he worshiped, and knowing that worship belongs to God. And he knew God was the source of his miracle and he thanked Jesus, he thanked Him as well as worshiped Him. He came back with the right attitude. So while the ungrateful nine illustrate the general attitude of the Jews, we'll take everything You give, we'll take all the benefits, we'll take all the miracles, just don't expect worship. The one Samaritan is a picture of the outcasts, the remnant, the ten percent, like Isaiah 6, the tenth that will believe the doctrine of the remnant. The grateful Samaritan is a picture of the outcast who believed. Might be a Samaritan like the Samaritan woman in John 4, might be Jews who were tax collectors and sinners, the riff-raff, the scum, the thugs, the lowlifes, the prostitutes who surrounded Jesus and of whom He said He'd come to call the sinners not the righteous. Everybody heard the message. Everybody enjoyed the benefit of Jesus' power. Everybody basked in the wonder of His teaching and His miracles. But only a few came, fell at His feet, glorified Him as God, worshiped Him, humbled themselves, and offered Him thanks. The majority, they were the takers. Small group were the ones who gave Him worship. The majority were content with fixing their life up a little bit, superficial, temporal. Small group wanted Him to change their souls, transform their hearts.
Well the warning here is that you can experience the goodness and common grace of God and you do, the whole world does. He makes the sun rise on all of us, the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. He's good to all men. You can be blessed by God in an earthly physical way. He is a Savior temporally of all men. You can be even blessed to hear the stories of Jesus and gospel truth and you can say I'll take what I get, I'll take my life I like it the way it is. OK, God gave it to me, I thank God for it. You hear people say that all the time, thank God that I'm healthy, thank God that I have my children, thank God for my job, etc., etc. And you can walk away right into eternal hell. Or you can come back and fall on your face before Jesus Christ and embrace Him as your Master and Savior. And the miracle that He did for that one man, He will do for you this day. Let's pray.
What a journey today, Lord, finding ourselves on the outside of that little village and trying to live that marvelous moment. So fascinating! Beyond that so wonderful to know Your sympathy and Your compassion even as the great God of the universe, to know that You understand the pain and the suffering of tortured people in a sinful and fallen world. It's wonderful to know You're a God who is kind and merciful and good. But how much more wonderful to know that You are also a God eager to forgive, a God who demands to be worshiped, and for those who truly worship, You will grant them full forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Thank You for the testimony of the one man saved from sin, saved from judgment, saved from hell because he embraced Jesus Christ as Lord and God. And we pray that that will happen today in the hearts of those who need desperately to turn back and bow before Christ. May sinners know that they cannot just take what He gives and throw some superficial, trivial, "Thanks, God," and think that that's all that's required. May we all know we must come to Christ and only through Him is eternal life granted, and salvation.
Our Father, we pray that You'll do a work in all our hearts, make us grateful if we are saved, convict those who are not and draw them to Yourself. May many sinners even today turn back to embrace Christ! We pray in His name. Amen.
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