Gospel: Luke 17.11-19. This text is about Jesus healing ten lepers in the borderland between Galilee and Samaria as Jesus made His way from Galilee to Jerusalem where He knew that tHe would be killed (Lk 18.31-33). Is the point of the story the healing or is it that only one leper returned to worship Jesus and give Him thanks? or is it that the one who returned was a Samartian, a Gentile?
Jesus is God the Son who gave up His place beside the Father to become a Man (Phil 2.5-11) in order to restore to us the relationship for which God created us, but which we lost through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Our sins have made us like lepers in the sight of God, and the only way we can be restored to God is for Jesus the Son to pay the penalty due for our sins which is death for all who believe. This is our greatest need, and only the Son could do it. So we are lepers in God’s eyes, besmirched with filth, Gentiles who have no claim on God, and Jesus died for us while we were still sinners (Rm 5.6,8). Are we grateful to Him like the one leper who returned and with a loud voice glorified God and fell down on his face at Jesus’ feet to give Him thanks? I’m afraid that to tell the truth I’m more like the other nine lepers who never came back at all. If we really understood what Jesus has done for us, wouldn’t we live changed lives? If we really understood how God sees us in our sin, wouldn’t we really be grateful for being cleansed of our sin? The trouble we have is that we don’t understand who we are, and we don’t grasp what God has done for us. Our sins were so disgusting in God’s sight that He could have nothing to do with us. Scripture teaches us who we really are but our nature as rebels refuses to accept the reality. Our sins are so evil that God the Son had to die to remit them, but we can’t believe they are so bad or that He would die for them (and for us). So, unaware of our true condition and of what God has doe for us, we continue on down the road like the nine in a state denial. If we understood, we would fall on our face in worship, gratitude, and adoration.
Like Dives, the rich man in the parable of a couple of weeks ago (Lk 16.20-31), we are so engrossed in our selves that we don’t even see what stares us in the face like Lazarus. Our problem, I know it is my problem, is that I am so full of myself that I can’t see the truth crying out for attention. God (all three Persons) and Life are Reality but as we slog through the wilderness filled with thorns and thistles, it’s hard to see. Jesus as He went to Jerusalem to die for us could see it. The final irony is that the one leper who sees the truth is a Samaritan, a foreigner who is despised by the chosen people. Maybe being despised helped him to see himself as he really was and enabled him to be grateful for what the Son had done for him. It is in reading Scripture and coming to know God that we come to understand ourselves. Apart from the view God has of us, we have a very imperfect view of ourselves. We must come to see ourselves as He sees us, which is the truth and reality, in order to understand who we are and what we really need. Not knowing any better, we think we are pretty good and certainly no worse than others and probably better than most. But Scripture paints us as rebels who reject God and refuse His efforts to wake us up, and want to continue to rely on ourselves as we pursue what seems good to us. All we know is what is inside us, and that is knowledge that is distorted by the fall so we are like blind men staggering along unaware of our problem. The only way to get a true perspective (God’s perspective–this is wisdom) is through the Holy Spirit if we will turn to Him. But nine out of ten of us refuse to do this. Facing the truth is too painful.
Memory Verse: You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Mt 7.5).