Posted on Wed, Nov 2, 2016
October 8, 2016
21st Sunday after Pentecost
Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers
11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ 14 When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ 19 Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’
Today’s text is about giving thanks for the healing we receive through forgiveness, and all good gifts we have received from God. We will talk today about worship, and how worship our primary form of giving thanks to God for all of God’s blessings. As broken, self-centered, lost and always in need of healing, human beings,’ worship IS our feeble attempt at giving thanks for grace we can neither fathom nor even know how to approach… unconditional faith we can only receive and celebrate.
First, notice the location for this text. A “region between Samaria and Galilee.” Which means Jesus is not at “home” in the familiar lands of Galilee, and he is approaching the outright hostile region of Samaria.
It is not necessarily a “safe place.” Sometimes doing worship is not necessarily a safe activity. I know of congregations in the Philippines that have been attacked during Bible Study, Prayer Time, or worship by machine gunners riding by in the backs of pick up trucks. The attempt at terrorizing those churches did not stop them from worshipping.
But he is not in his familiar Jewish area of Galilee, and he is not totally in the land called Samaria, it is a ‘no-mans’ land. This would make sense to be a place where people who had been banished from their communities to be living, the land of lepers. Notice also, it is the lepers who learn to live together even though they are from of differing and oftentimes conflicting religious groups. Only the so-called healed people, fight over religious differences…
Jesus offers mercy to foreigners/outsiders: At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus extends his mission beyond the boundaries of his homeland. He reminds the assembly “there were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:27). In response his townspeople seek to throw Jesus over a cliff (Luke 4:30). It can be difficult to accept the welcoming ways of God.
Jesus has set his face on Jerusalem, and he is now preparing himself to go to Jerusalem to give himself as the Lamb of God, the “Lamb that was slain for the forgiveness of the world.”
Through forgiveness we are healed. What the church has to offer, among many other things, is the healing of the heart, mind, body and soul. Ten lepers approach Jesus, they beg for healing, and from a distance, being sure not to touch, or be touched by the lepers, Jesus heals them from a distance. ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. They didn't even have to get to the place of the priests, and they were made clean. Why did they not return? There are so many reasons we forget to say thank-you! Did they rush back to their homes and families to begin life back where it left off? Maybe. Were they welcomed back with open arms? By their village and families at first? Doubtful.
We humans are so much like the ten lepers on today’s text it is not funny. Sin, the very thing that separates us from our proper relationship with God permeates our lives so much, Luther reminds us that we need to confess our brokenness and hear that we are forgiven first thing in the morning. When I look at our world and at how humans beings are hell-bent on destroying ourselves and the world around us, all I can say is, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ And just like our Lutheran theology tells us, Jesus comes to us in our brokenness, and with a Word announces that we are healed.
This process of healing happens every time we worship in this holy house.
I want to walk you through our worship service, our experiencing healing and our attempt at saying ‘thank you’ through worship. If we can, I will also try to explain how a worship setting, in and of itself, should proclaim GRACE, and how our worship space brings us all together into community, being healed, sanctified, fed and sent out at the People of God, the Body of Christ.
(Walk through worship. Three times we experience Law and Gospel; conviction and forgiveness. And then after hearing the Word of the Lord, we are able to ‘play.’ We install church leaders, teachers, confirm students, commission missionaries, share in the Body and Blood of Christ at the Table/Altar, and then, and only after we are blessed, we are SENT OUT to do the work of the Lord in a Spirit of thanksgiving and wholeness.)
“Get up and go!” with the promises of God
The passage ends with a command to the Samaritan: “Get up (anistemi; rise) and go (poreuomai) on your way; your faith has made you well.” When it appears in Luke-Acts the phrase “get up and go,” suggests that a significant (even wondrous) change is about to occur. After the annunciation, for example, Mary “gets up and goes” to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39). The prodigal son decides to “get up and go” back to his father (Luke 15:18), and God tells Paul to “get up and go” to Damascus (Acts 22:10; cf. Acts 9:11; 10:20).
The command to get up and go comes with a promise to the Samaritan: “your faith has made you well (literally, ‘saved you’).” The good news of this encounter carries with it the promise that through Jesus, God empowers people to step across boundaries, share mercy with outsiders, pay attention to things worthy of praise and move forward into God’s future with assurance that there is more to God’s story than meets the eye. For that, may we always give thanks.
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