Roger's Postings

Friday, October 08, 2010

Luke 17:11-19. Freed to give thanks! 10/10/10

{11) Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. {12} As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance {13} and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" {14} When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. {15} One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. {16} He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan. {17} Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? {18} Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" {19} Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

The people of Australia were called, again and again to pray for rain, through the extended severe drought. Finally, the seasons changed and brought the needed rain and filled the rivers. The drought finally comes to an end, so they all headed off to the local to celebrate. Now they were free again to live without constraint: they finally had received the just desserts for the long years of hardship; so they all head off to live it up – all except a few.

These few went off in the opposite direction - they went to give thanks to God. They bent their heads low in gratitude for what God had done for them, even though our nation did not deserve this blessing. They recognised that it was the Lord Almighty himself who had given them the drought breaking rain. They appreciated the fact that it is the Lord who has given us everything that is good; and so their only reaction now was to give thanks to the provider once again for his goodness. And their thankful praise went on to ring out in every word and every action that came forth from their lives. Those few then went on in life with the full assurance from God that their life was truly blessed and had a wholeness to it: a wholeness that was sadly lacking in those many others who took it all for granted.

Now – there in lies a message for us all. In light of the fact that this is the message of our text here this morning, let us look to our own lives and see whether we truly do appreciate all our great God has done for us. Let us first of all check to see if we celebrate our successes as just that; our successes. Is it that we feel that it is our right to receive all the good that comes our way: Or again, are we so comfortable in our affluence that we even fail to see and appreciate the greatness of what God has and is doing for us? Where is the gratitude and thankfulness that should be seen and felt in every aspect of our everyday lives?

To help us think these things through, let us look at the Samaritan leper and what Jesus had done in his life; and there learn something for our own lives. That Samaritan, along with the other nine lepers, was a ‘dead’ man. He was dead even though the leprosy hadn’t executed him yet. His leprosy cut him off almost completely from his own people: his family – his friends – his church. He had to live outside town and not come into close contact with anyone else – except other lepers. When someone came near; they had to yell, ‘unclean, unclean.’ And there was no cure, so all they could do was just exist and slowly deteriorate as their skin gives way more and more. They were bound by something worse than death; and there was nothing to live for and nothing to hope in.

Then Jesus comes along into our world and he heals the sick and proclaims that God’s kingdom has broken into this world. Here Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to die on the cross, when somehow, this man, along with the other nine lepers, hear that this Jesus was passing by. From a distance, knowing that he was a leper and that he could not come near to the one who apparently was from God, he cries out simply for this Jesus to have pity on him.

Then by a word of command from this Jesus, everything changed. A word from this one who was on his way to be strung up on a cross to die as an outcast changed everything. This one could see that day ahead when the whole world would turn against him and that he would be forsaken even by his Father in heaven: being punished and having to die for all our rebellion, sickness and sin; for all that makes us outcasts and untouchables. There he was to die the death of all deaths; breaking the power of all that would separate us from God and each other. By rights, his death should remain the only death; because there Jesus died the death of all people – all people. So that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. He became an outcast so that there need never be another outcast. No one need be cut off from the land of the living.

So there on the border between Galilee and Samaria, a command from Jesus allowed all ten leper outcasts to enter back into the land of the living. They all raced off to get on with their living: to get out of life what they could. All, but one. Because as he went off to do what Jesus had told him to do he noticed that his leprosy had gone: that this Jesus truly was from God and that it was he who had given him life again. So he turned and raced back – back to give thanks and praise to the one who had given him life - new life – and a new chance at living.

This man, we recall was a Samaritan – and it seems probable that he was the only Samaritan in the group. That may give us a clue as to the real reason why the others did not find it in their hearts to be thankful. As Jews and therefore members of God’s chosen OT people, wasn’t it their right to receive God’s blessing; wasn’t it God’s duty to care for his own privileged people; hadn’t God betrayed them by allowing them to get leprosy in the first place. It should never have happened to them; yes to the Samaritan perhaps – but not to them – not to them.

There perhaps that is the reason why it was only that one solitary Samaritan that had room in his heart for gratitude. He had nothing; and he knew that he deserved nothing. So to be given life – he knew he owed everything to God – everything. Then for him we find that there was more than healing of his leprosy; there was a whole change in his heart and life. For him life began that day; with Jesus becoming the very centre of all that he was and did; filling his whole life, being and eternity. He was free now to do all that God had in mind for him. His whole life was now one of thankful praise to his Lord and God.

Now what are the lessons here for us today? How easy is it for us to be like the nine: yes, we say that we owe God everything; yet how often isn’t it, that the moment something goes wrong we will tend to say, ‘God, why have you let this happen to me - I’m a Christian – I am faithful in my church life - I try to do the right thing – and all the rest. So what about you doing your bit and looking after me. Let the people out there get sick, loose their job and run into trouble if you must; but not me – it is my right – I deserve better.’ Again with that sort of attitude we have lost the heart of the Gospel: The real message of Jesus Christ and the lostness of us as a humanity without him.

No matter who we are – we have no claim on God. Of ourselves we have nothing that makes us acceptable. We are nothing – and we deserve nothing; except to be a total outcast. We all, too often have bound ourselves to ourselves and to our sin. Our sin is a big thing and cannot be taken lightly. Of ourselves, we are nothing and we have no claim on anything good. We have no rights and deserve nothing.

Yet it is into that nothingness that the Lord Jesus Christ has come with his wonderful gift of life, love, freedom and rich blessings. He has come and made us whole; cleansed us through the washing of our baptism – connecting us to his life, death and resurrection. He has taken us out of a life that was bound to death and given us life, hope and every good thing that we have. He himself being that life and giving it to us freely out of pure grace.

Each day then surely we can only reflect on and appreciate with wonder, thanks and praise all that our Lord has done for us. Surely, our life will be one of continually returning to him to give him thanks and praise; and also living that gratitude every day of lives, remembering that he is the giver of every blessing we have received. We will want him to be with us and to lead us and guide us as we face all the various situations of our life. We surely will want to be bound to our Lord and Saviour in all that we say and do; remembering that his promise and assurance is that he is with us and for us.

So as you go from here with that attitude; go with the same assurance that was given to the Samaritan leper – your faith has made you whole. Go in peace and serve the Lord. And may the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts, minds and lives centred in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. AMEN

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


Post a Comment

<< Home