At this point in my life I really don’t care if anyone reads my blog posts, although it was not that long ago I found myself working really hard to get readers and subscribers. For what? So I could justify the countless hours that I spend researching the scriptures? Or so I could feel good when the odd person left a comment and told me how great it was? Vanity, vanity, vanity. It’s all vain and self seeking if those are the reasons. If all my research, writing, and efforts are not to bring glory to God alone I have wasted my time and heaped judgment upon myself, for this is all the reward I will ever get.
Our hearts can be so deceptive at times, it’s nearly impossible to decipher what your own intentions really are, which is why David said in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” A man after God’s own heart says stuff like that simply because He cannot trust himself, so He turns to the only One who is worthy of such trust and consults with Him. He brought glory to God through his humility and sought God for deliverance even from his undetected sin.
The above is basically a self confession. It wasn’t really intended to be attached to this text but after looking at the verses we will explore it definitely has some close application. Let’s read it.
Luke 17:11-19 ESV .. On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
1. God does everything according to His plans. He doesn’t make mistakes and for sure He doesn’t have lucky coincidences. If we believe that Jesus was indeed God in man-flesh then we could also agree that everything He did as well was carefully planned; resting at the well in order to meet the woman, showing up late for Lazarus’ death, being in a crowded house so that the only way in was through the roof, and in this story, coming across ten lepers on a day’s walk. Jesus’ mission was people, more specifically, HIS people, people who are called by His name. One of His lost sheep is worth the extra mile to Him and He’s willing to go the long way around to reach even one.
2. Then, since we read that only one came to trust in the Savior that day there could have been a second reason for the the journey. I mean, why did he not plan it out so that He only found and healed that one leper who actually ended up believing and trusting in Him, why did He even bother cleansing the other nine? Perhaps it was for no other reason than it was important for nine lepers to show up to the same priest and reveal that they had been cleansed by one man! Can you imagine the buzz that would rip through your local hospital if nine known terminal cancer patients showed up at the same time to get a clean bill of health? The religious leaders in that day hated it when Jesus would perform these miracles because it would further strengthen His claim of being the Son of God and they wanted nothing to do with that. So whether these nine additional healings were done simply for that cause or not it definitely didn’t have a calming effect on their animosity towards Him. What is clear is that His main purpose was one sheep that needed rescuing, and Jesus lived on mission every single day.
Unworthy Men, Humble Approach:
When the ten lepers saw Jesus He was still in the distance and since lepers were not permitted to be near anyone who was healthy, they called out to Him. It’s of utmost importance to take note of the way they addressed Jesus… by calling Him master. In doing this they are confirming two ideas: 1. That this man holds the highest possible position in their lives (at least for that moment), for no one can serve two masters, so in addressing Him as master they are coming under His unquestionable, sovereign authority. 2. While elevating Him to the highest possible position they are in turn admitting that they themselves are in the lowest of position, for to hail someone as master is to take on the status of slave or servant. In contrast with the rich young ruler these guys actually appeared to have it together, as he entirely missed the point when he referred to Jesus as merely a teacher. At very least they had His title right for Master He was. If salvation is hinged on a simple confession that He is master then all ten lepers had true faith and were saved right there. But that’s not the case here, and Matthew 7:21-23 states it won’t be the case for many who hail Him as Lord in the end.
Authority, Command & Obedience:
It’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t even come to them. He literally hollers back to them a command and they obey. What is plain at this point is that they are still all ten sick, they all are still seeking a miracle of restoration.Their sickness is of the kind that is easy to observe whether they were healed or not because the fact is that pieces of skin would have been dangling from their bodies still, yet upon the instruction of Christ they obey at once.
Imagine for a moment that they were in need of feet, as in all ten had their feet amputated and as they called out to Jesus He told them to go and get their feet sized up at the local shoe store. Crazy! Yet they obeyed the command in spite of their still present and obvious condition. The story of Naaman is similar, he came seeking healing and was told to do something of an absurd nature, yet upon his obedience he was healed. The text says, “as they went they were healed”. The act of obedience was all it took and they received something from God. Although the physical healing was found in obedience, salvation was not. In fact not one of these men had yet found true salvation. They 1. recognized Him as master 2. they obeyed His command 3. As a result they became benefactors of healing power, but not salvation.
You may be thinking, how can someone be healed by God and not saved? Someone can be created by God and not saved, and that’s a far greater miracle than the restoration of a body. Truth is that the benefits of the presence of God are often felt by the unbelieving world, “He rains on the just and the unjust alike“, meaning both the just and unjust plant and harvest and receive from God’s generosity the rain of heaven to water their land. If you live upon the earth and are not a follower of Jesus, you are living under a continual fountain of His goodness, the air you breath, the food you eat, the money you spend, the health you enjoy, these are all gifts from God and yet they are not salvation. The real tragedy is when people suppose they are saved because they have experienced something more than what they would call natural, such as a physical healing and recall that time as a sign that God was showing special favor to them so they must be saved. God special favor will be revealed in the end when He either says “well done” or “depart from me”, that’s when the truth of salvation will be revealed. You don’t have to wait until then to find out, this isn’t a some type of game show, it’s serious. The Bible says that today is the day of salvation and that we are all called to respond to the gospel, the alternative is to remain in our guilt like the other nine lepers.
Praised Him With A Loud Voice:
One of the lepers upon seeing he was healed literally spun around and made a beeline back toward Jesus. He no longer had the interest of showing Himself to some old pasty priest, he was returning to worship the true Priest, the Great High Priest. Notice his demeanor upon his return to Christ, he wasn’t asking for an autograph, he didn’t come back to shake His hand, give Him a hug or a High-Five for that matter, his humble approach revealed his understanding. He was there to worship at the feet of God in flesh.
It’s important to observe that all through the New Testament we see humbled sinner after humbled sinner take their place at the feet of Jesus. My wife and I recently saw a movie called “Jack The Giant Slayer”. At the start of the movie you see the Princess dressed in regular clothes standing among the common people who were all watching a stage play. Unknowingly a gang of thugs begin to harass the Princess until Jack steps in to defend her. At that moment an army of knights show up and rescue the Princess revealing her true identity, upon which everyone including the thugs took their rightful place on bended knee. You see, before they knew her true identity they were not humbled in her presence. This story is much the same, in that one man recognized the true identity of Christ and took the most suitable position, which was at His feet. If Jesus was not indeed God but rather a mere prophet or messenger, He would have never allowed such worship for it would have been considered idolatrous blasphemy to the highest degree.
Then there’s the matter of the only true worshiper turning out to be a Samaritan, which were thought of as half breeds at best. This man should have, in all regards, been the last man to show up and worship the “King of the Jews”. The Samaritans weren’t part of the flock, they weren’t considered chosen or part of the family, they were outcasts and idolaters who interbred with heathen Gentiles, yet here he was.
So ten called Him master, ten obeyed His voice, ten were even healed, yet only one returned to Christ. Nine regular church attenders went on to complete the ritual and to be reinstated by their priest back into the community, while one heathen outsider abandoned all traditional rituals and worshiped Christ. Jesus is looking for true worshipers not just people who say all the right things, giving lip service, only to walk away without so much as an expression of thanks and gratitude.
The Salvation Of One Soul:
Jesus makes a huge deal out of this, “where are the nine?” He asks, “Were not ten healed? Why only one returns to give praise to God and it’s a foreigner.” Jesus then speaks the words of life to the one lost sheep that He had set out to rescue that day. “Rise and go your way your faith has made you well”. You see, the nine who continued on their way took for granted their supposed position with God, believing that they were a shoo in to the Kingdom since they grew up in a full fledged Jewish home. They could trace their descendants right back to Abraham, they worshiped in the temple, they performed all the rituals set out for them to the tee, and then some.
Jesus answered the one leper who returned, “Your faith has made you well”. Was Jesus pointing out the obvious? Because it was obvious that he was healed and for that matter, that the other nine were healed. Jesus was emphasizing pleasurable favor toward this one man over the other nine that He already emphasized displeasure. The Greek for that word “WELL” literally means “Saved”. Jesus was referring to the salvation of this man’s soul. He was made well, saved, regenerated by his humility and the power of Christ at work in him. Ten called Him master (meaning Lord), ten obeyed His command, ten were healed by Him, yet only one experienced the rebirth through Jesus Christ. The outcast, the despised one… he’s the only one who returned with a heart of thanksgiving to worship the King Jesus.
Sadly, Matthew 7:21-23 echos these words of Jesus. Many will show up to their day in court accompanied by a list of all their works, their church attendance slips, their baptism certificates, the sinner’s prayer they had framed, the name of their parents and grandparents who were missionaries and the list goes on, and according to Matthew 7 will go on, but none of that stuff will even come close to bringing genuine salvation to a lost soul. Today is the day in which all of us must take the humble position at His feet. There is coming a day when the pen will be set down and names will cease to be entered in the Book of Life. Today is the day of salvation. Turn around and run to the foot of the Cross.
Romans 10:13 ESV .. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Grace & Peace.
Preparing The Way