2010 Luke’s Gospel
Jesus Blesses A Thankful Man
Key Verse: 17:16 "He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan. "
In this passage Jesus heals ten men with leprosy. It was one of many miraculous signs that Jesus had performed. However, the focus of the story becomes the people who were healed. Among ten who were healed, only one praised God and thanked Jesus. And Jesus blessed him. If we want to be blessed by Jesus, we should learn from him. It is already a great blessing that we are participating in the work of God and experiencing the love and grace of God in our life. However, that’s just the beginning. God really wants us to remember his blessing at all times and be thankful in all circumstances. Let's praise and thank God, so that we may bear God's blessings.
First, Jesus heals ten men with leprosy (11-14). In verse 11, Luke reminds us that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem for his upcoming death on the cross. Jesus knew his future and repeatedly foretold to his disciples that he would suffer, die and rise again. But no one understood what he was talking about. Jesus was walking a lonely way in order to obey the will of God. At such times, even the noblest people become too burdened to care for others. Let's see what Jesus did.
Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. At that time, Jews despised Samaritans because they deviated from biblical, God-centered worship. This offended the Samaritans, who, in turn, resented the Jews. So they did not associate with each other. However we know through the story of the Samaritan woman that Jesus broke the prejudice and the hatred between them once and for all. Still, when Jesus set out for Jerusalem, a Samaritan village rejected him. Jesus did not hold grudges against them when James and John did. They wanted to call fire down from heaven to destroy the Samaritan village. But Jesus was different. Jesus had different plan that was to spread the gospel throughout Samaria (Ac 1:8). Jesus breaks all human barriers, although all have sinned, but are justified freely by God's grace (Ro 3:23,24). Jesus went to Jerusalem to liberate men from sinful prejudices so that we might love one another, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender social status, political view, or educational background.
As Jesus entered a village, ten men with leprosy met him. Both Jews and Samaritans were among them. Yet, these lepers traveled together and sought help together. To them, the barriers between Jew and Samaritan were irrelevant. They were despised by both, for they carried a contagious, disfiguring and fatal disease. Lepers were not allowed among healthy people, but stayed in quarantines. Lepers could associate only with other lepers. They were isolated and lonely. They remained anonymous even among themselves.
However, one day, these men heard that Jesus had compassion on men with leprosy and the power to heal them. Jesus was coming through their territory. It might have been impossible for them to leave the territory. Yet in God's perfect plan, Jesus came to them. With a new hope, they went together to welcome Jesus. Let us read verse 13 together. “And called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Maser, have pity on us.” They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" They came to Jesus just as they were and pleaded for mercy. Perhaps they rehearsed this and cried out in unison. In any case, their cry revealed desperate need and faith in Jesus. This cry came from their souls. This cry came from their sincere hope and firm faith in Jesus.
Jesus did not ignore their cry. Jesus did not pass them by. Jesus was willing to help. In the midst of his own painful and lonely struggle, Jesus had compassion on these ten helpless men. Jesus' compassion never dries up or runs out. God's compassion is infinite; it is vaster than the ocean and higher than the mountains. Jesus is always ready to show compassion to helpless sinners in our time of need.
However, Jesus' way of helping these men suggested that he had a greater purpose in mind than just healing them out of his compassion. Look at verse 14a. "When he saw them, he said, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.'" Jesus did not simply say, "Be clean!" He told them to go and show themselves to the priests. And that was a crazy thing to do. According to the law, people with skin diseases had to be examined by the priest, and if found clean, could be pronounced fit for community life among God's people. Jesus' words challenged the men to believe that they were healed before it happened and to act in obedience to Jesus' words. Jesus was teaching them to live by faith and to obey the word of God by faith. Jesus wanted to restore their relationships with God and others, and to enable them to live meaningful, fruitful lives.
Look at verse 14b. It says, "And as they went, they were cleansed." Jesus' word has awesome power in it. In fact, it is the very word of God who created the heavens and the earth. By Jesus’ power in his word and their obedience, their leprosy was healed. Their flesh was restored; they were clean and brand new young men. In an instant they all became so handsome and healthy like the ones in “300”.
In the Bible, leprosy is like the power of sin. Now there is a cure for the physical leprosy, but there is no human cure for the spiritual leprosy caused by the sins that we commit every day. If we keep sinning, before we know, we will be destroyed in our hearts, souls, and minds like the lepers lose their noses, fingers and toes. So we need to do something about it. First we must come back to our senses and realize that sin is slowly but deeply destroying from inside out. Our self-centeredness, self-righteousness, lustfulness, laziness, jealousy, and hatred are on their full duty and destroying us. We need a specialist. We need a true doctor. And the only doctor who can heal us and the only savior who can drive the power of sin out of us is Jesus. 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Jesus can cleanse any sinner completely and give him a new life. I also once was a sinner like a leper who lost the God-given identity and hope for me. I lived my life in a way that could give me all the pleasures and satisfaction. And when it required me to break God’s heart by sinning against him, I didn’t think twice, but went against God. The interesting thing about sin is that it makes us believe that it’s all worth every time we are tempted when, in fact, he only destroys us, and break the love relationship between God and us. It keeps darkening our hearts, and blinds our spiritual eyes that we cannot tell the truth from the fault. Then how can we get out of this mess? We have to remember that we have Jesus and that Jesus loves each and every one of us. As for me, Jesus did come with his gentle and humble approach. When I confessed my heart and repented my sins sincerely, he touched my wounded heart and healed me as my savior. Jesus gave me forgiveness, and I gained new life in him. Amen. I believe that many among us have been healed by Jesus both in physical and spiritual bodies. Can you tell of Jesus' healing in your life? Do you need healing from pride, selfishness, laziness, lust or any other sin-sickness? Let's come to Jesus for he is our compassionate Healer.
Why does Jesus heal us? Jesus heals us so that we may obey the word of God and become useful to God. Luke 1:74,75 says, "...to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days." In Jesus, we can live the most joyful, fruitful, and happy life. We can serve God all our days and then enter into everlasting glory. What a wonderful Savior Jesus is! And what a wonderful life that we live in Jesus! Amen.
Second, one came back praising God and thanking Jesus (15-16). How did the ten men respond to Jesus' healing? Look at verse 15. "One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice." It is significant that this man praised God as his first response. The man saw God through Jesus. He knew that his healing had come from God. He sensed that the mighty God knew his sufferings as a leper, and was concerned for him. He felt that God loved him very personally. When he realized God's love for him, burning praise and thanks began to burst out from his heart. He had no regard for what people thought. He was overwhelmed by God's presence and praised God with all his strength in a loud voice: "Praise God!" He rejoiced in his healing; but he rejoiced even more in God's presence.
The healed man did not stop with praising God. He also thanked Jesus. Look at verse 16. "He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan." He first threw himself at Jesus' feet. This reminds me of the woman who fell at Jesus’ feet, broke her perfume bottle, and washed his feet with her hair. This former leper wanted to give everything to Jesus. He recognized that his new life was not just his; his life belonged to Jesus. When he threw himself at Jesus' feet, he was ready to obey Jesus no matter what Jesus said. If Jesus told him to go to a third world country as a missionary, he would go because he trusted Jesus' power and love to guide him. In a spirit of surrender, he said again and again, "Thank you! Thank you, Jesus!" This thanksgiving was not superficial, like the automatic “Thank you”. His words of thanks expressed an offering of his life to Jesus. He teaches us how to praise God and thank Jesus.
Jesus was pleased with the thankful leper. Look at verse 19. "Then he said to him, 'Rise and go; your faith has made you well.'" Jesus accepted his reverent submission and became his Lord. Then, the Lord Jesus told him to rise and go. Jesus recognized him as a man of faith and credited his faith for his healing. It meant he was right with God. Now he could go forth as a man with dignity, recognized by the king, healthy and fit to serve in God's work. His future was promising; he could be a truly great man and blessing to the world. Here we learn the secret to bearing God's blessings. It is to praise and thank God.
Third, "Where are the other nine?" (17-18). The man's praise and thanks to God pleased Jesus very much. But at the same time, it also exposed the mistake of the other nine. They, too, were cleansed by Jesus. But they did not return to praise God and thank Jesus. This was a tragic mistake. Romans 1:21 says, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." Those who fail to praise and thank God become dark and foolish. Eventually they fall into temptation and become slaves of sin. We must learn to praise and thank God for his blessings. In fact, we should praise and thank God always. We know a famous verse that Paul wrote, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Th 5:16-18). Even in difficult circumstances, we have many reasons to thank God. God is our Creator who gave us our very lives. God is our Provider who sustains us with all necessary things each day, including food and water and air. God is our Redeemer who gave his one and only Son Jesus Christ as a ransom sacrifice for our sins. He saved us from eternal condemnation. God pours out his blessings on us every day in many ways that we are not even aware of. God is worthy of all our praise and thanks. Let's praise and thank God with all our hearts and lives.
However, when we want to praise and thank God, we find it not always easy. Our sinful nature binds us in self-centeredness and ingratitude. It blinds our minds and freezes our hearts so that we cannot thank God. Sinful people usually see what they do not have--and feel sorry about that--instead of seeing what they have, and giving thanks. Sinful people usually remember one wrong done by others, while ignoring the many good things done for them by God and others. Moreover, life in this world can be hard. Sometimes we feel too tired or worn out to be thankful. Sometimes it just seems inconvenient to give thanks to God. There are many exciting and interesting things to do first. But in the course of pursuing them, we can miss the chance to thank God. To express our thanksgiving to God we must struggle against our sinful nature, fighting a spiritual battle in prayer.
Today, we must count the blessings that God has done for us, and name them one by one. Yes, we have many complaints concerning our life problems and unpleasing circumstances. However, we have many more reason to give thanks to God than to be complaining. Let us stop being so grumpy but be so happy to be with Jesus. We all want to be blessed by our king Jesus. And the way to be blessed more and more is to give God the glory and give thanks to Jesus. Let us pray that we can give God the glory by giving everlasting thanks. May Jesus' words be with us when we leave today. Let us read verse 19 together. "Rise and go. Your faith has made you well." Let's go forth to serve him joyfully. Let us read verse 16. “He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanks him- and he was a Samaritan.
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