Sunday, October 27, 2019
There are times in life when the things that divide us become insignificant. Times of suffering are one of those. It is often said that “misery loves company”; but, in the midst of suffering, our misery can also lead us to forget our prejudices and bigotry. This would appear to be the case of the 10 Lepers in Luke 17:11-19.
FAITH FROM A DISTANCE
Luke reminds us, here, that Jesus is still on His way to Jerusalem. As He and his disciples enter a village, somewhere on the border between Galilee and Samaria, ten lepers cried out to Him from a distance: “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
The reason they cried out from a distance was because the Law had specified what lepers must do:
45 “Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.Leviticus 13:45-46, NIV
Leviticus 13 gives priests the tools for diagnosing various skin diseases, including the dreaded leprosy. The next chapter (Leviticus 14) gives the priests detailed information about what to do when the diseased leper seems to have been cured.
So, from a distance, it took faith to cry out to Jesus for help. It took faith to realize that Jesus was more than just a man; but, rather, their “Master”. It took faith to choose to obey Jesus’ command to go show themselves to the priest before they had actually been healed.
WE ALL LIVE BY FAITH
Whether one believes in God or not, life is lived in faith that the sun will rise and set, that the seasons will change every year, that gravity works and that the people coming from the opposite direction on a 2-lane road will stay in their lane. The distinction between the believer and the non-believer is simply to whom we give credit for the predictability in life. The fact is that predictability is our day-to-day normal, whether we choose to believe that it is by chance or by divine direction.
So, it would not be appropriate to say that the lepers were not moved by faith. Rather than sitting in hopeless helplessness, they chose to get up and walk towards the city where the priest would be ready to receive them. Their faith would be immediately rewarded as they began to realize that they were, indeed, rapidly shedding the effects of this horrid disease and returning to health. It would be understandable that, rejoicing, they would run as fast as they could into town to share the good news of their healing.
THERE IS A FAITH THAT SAVES
Then there is the one leper who, likely, could not run to the Jewish priest with the others because he had lost one curse only to be confronted with another; for he was a Samaritan (See “Samaritans” in Bible History Online). Reading a bit between the lines, I suppose that he was now unable to go with his friends of shared misery. The new normal had set in. Now he was contemplating going back to his Samaritan village alone.
In this moment of mixed feelings, this man suddenly realized he needed to say “Thank You” to Jesus. To this Samaritan falling at Jesus’ feet, Jesus tells him he was made well by way of his faith. All of them listened to Jesus and did as they were told. But one remembered Who it was that healed him and he worshiped Him. Faith!
Of all of the touching elements of this story, perhaps the most poignant to me is that when the healed Samaritan fell at Jesus’ feet and worshiped Him, Jesus never told him to stop. If anyone were to run up to me and fall at my feet I would promptly tell them to get up. I might even look around quickly to make sure no one saw what had just happened.
But not Jesus. He received the praise of the Samaritan, wondering why the others did not join him in giving glory to God Who had chosen to dwell in their midst. The extension of Jesus’ questions to us are convicting: with all of the ‘normal’ of our daily existence, how ready are we to give glory to God for our blessings?