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One Leper

5th June 2015

Last week, we read these words:

Luke 17v11-14
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

These ten men were healed by God, of course. It was a miracle. But their healing involved them making an act of obedience. Sometimes, we have to do something in order to receive healing from God.

We saw last time that people who have been healed of leprosy were required by Old Testament law to show themselves to a priest, who would examine them, make sacrifices for them, and pronounce them clean. But Jesus told them to do so before they were healed. He told them to begin the journey to the priest's house as an act of faith that they'd be healed before they arrived, and as an act of obedience to the Bible and to Jesus. And, Luke tells us, as they went, they were cleansed.

Reading on:

Luke 17v15-19
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

There are many people who want what Jesus can do for them, but who are content to receive from Him and then go about their business. There are many who've been healed by God's power but choose not to testify to their healing. There are many who've had their sins forgiven through faith in his redeeming blood, but feel no great need to go to church on a Sunday and show their gratitude by singing His praises.

9 of these 10 lepers were happy to cry out for mercy, and delighted to be healed, I'm sure. But they felt no duty or desire to honour the Healer. Only one wanted to give Jesus the praise and thanks He deserves. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet in an act of mercy and willing submission.

And that man was a Samaritan, not a Jew. He was outside God's covenant people. Often, if a non-Christian is healed, he'll show more gratitude than the average Christian would. We Christians can grow used to God's grace and mercy. We can act as if we deserve His help. We can fall into the trap of imagining that God has an obligation to do what we tell Him to, so we don't bother to thank Him when He does. We can even get angry and resentful at God when He doesn't do what we ask. God forgive us.

Jesus expressed His disappointment with the rhetorical question, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” And then He said something remarkable, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well”.

What did Jesus mean when He said, "your faith has made you well"?

Some people think that Jesus simply meant that this leper was healed because he had faith. But the other 9 were healed as well. But it seems to me that Jesus meant something else as well. The root of the single Greek word which the NIV translates as made well is sozo which is usually translated as save. The NIV could equally well have translated this phrase as "your faith has saved you". I suspect that this man's recognition that Jesus was worthy of worship, and his willingness to come back and give thanks to Him, showed that his faith was more than faith that he would be healed of leprosy - it was saving faith in the Son of God. He was eternally saved, which is of far for value than merely physically healing.

It's interesting and instructive that this word, sozo can mean heal, cleanse or save. Our eternal salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a cleansing from our sins, and it's the most profound healing we will ever receive. We're healed spiritually - for ever.

Psalm 103v12-5
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits —
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.