Grace For The Journey
In today’s text, ten lepers are healed, but only one returns to give the Lord Jesus the proper thanks for His healing touch upon them. When this lepers returns to express his joy and gratitude for the healing he received from Jesus, the Lord asks two questions:
“Were there not ten cleansed?”
“Where are the nine?”
If you figure it out percentage wise, only one out of ten, or 10% came back to thank the Lord Jesus for what He had done. Let’s not be guilty of being part of that 90% who do not give Him thanks and glory due His name.
The subject of Luke14 chapter is faith.
The issue is not
The size of our faith
Sequence that faith takes
Us through in our lives.
If we have genuine faith, it will lead us to do three things . . .
1) True Faith Leads Us To Gain A Proper Knowledge Of Our Spiritual Condition.
Notice . . .
The Condition Of These Men.
- They Were Diseased.
Luke 17:12 says, “And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers …” Leprosy pictures sin in a person’s life or an individual before salvation.
- They Were defiled.
The later part of verse 21 says, “… which stood afar off:” Lepers had to cry out Unclean in the presence of others in order that they might be warned of defilement. The Bible says in Leviticus 13:3, “And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean. In Leviticus 13:45-46 the Bible also says, “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.”
- They Were Distanced.
No one wanted anything to do with a leper. The Law of Moses required lepers to keep their distance. Leviticus 13:45-46 says, “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.
The legal distance which these unfortunates were compelled to keep from passers-by was a hundred paces.
We too, before salvation are a far off from God. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:11-13, “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh” … “that at that time you were without Christ” … having no hope and without God in the world” … “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
- They Were Denied.
A leper was not able to take part in public worship due to the fact that he was defiled and might infect others. A person’s sins must be forgiven before he or she can truly worship God. We all need to see ourselves as these lepers did. They were unclean before God and man. Leprosy, a dreaded skin disease, is a picture of sin (Luke 14:14,17). Leviticus 13:38-46 & Numbers 5:2-4 tell us that there were severe physical and social consequences of leprosy. One historian stated, “Lepers were treated as if they were, in effect, dead men” (Ephesians 2:1).
- What They Declared.
The first step of faith is to acknowledge our desperate condition before God. We all need to do what these lepers did . . .
Call out to Jesus
Jesus will never turn a deaf ear to a cry like that!
These men knew Jesus by name, but they also called Him Master, acknowledging His authority. Luke is the only gospel to use this word in addressing Jesus, and every other time it is used by the disciples. In uttering this cry, these lepers take their proper place under the Lord Jesus’ sovereign authority. We must put Him in His proper place as Lord and Master when we come to Him.
The lepers pleaded, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Mercy, like grace, is God’s undeserved favor.
Grace is getting what we do not deserve;
Mercy is not getting what we do deserve.
Mercy also contains the thought of compassion in view of the sufferer’s pitiable condition. By crying out for mercy, these men were acknowledging that they did not deserve healing. They weren’t claiming, “We are lepers, but we are pretty good lepers. We think we’re worthy of being healed.” They knew that there was nothing in themselves to earn healing or to commend them above others. This is the only way that we can come to God for deliverance from the leprosy of sin . . .
To acknowledge that we deserve
To be separated from God,
But to appeal to His great mercy.
The good news is that God delights in showing mercy to those who cry out for it! The Bible says in Romans 10:12-13 that He is, “abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
When Moses asked to see God’s glory, in Exodus 34:6-7 the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”
God’s holiness demands
That He judge sin,
But His mercy
Is the predominant
And leading attribute.
Whatever your need, call out to the Lord. He is full of mercy.
2) True Faith Leads To Experiencing God’s Power For Spiritual Healing.
We all need to respond as these lepers responded: with obedient faith. Without any
evidence of healing, Jesus commands the lepers to show themselves to the priests.
We can image the conversation they had. Nine missed the greatest miracle. The nine
got what they wanted, but they went no farther (Verse 19).
In this, their situation was similar to that of Naaman the Syrian, whom Elisha told to go and bathe in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:10-15). It was a test of faith for them to go without any evidence of healing. We are not told whether the ten lepers had a debate about whether or not to go. I can well imagine talking among themselves, “We’ll look like fools if we show up before the priest in our present condition!” … “Yes, but we’ve got nothing to lose; this is our only hope. But it hurts to walk on these leprous feet! I know, but if we do what He says, maybe we’ll be healed” … “This isn’t the way He healed the other lepers. Why doesn’t He heal us in the same way?” … “I don’t know, but we must obey.”
Maybe they didn’t have any such debate, since the text doesn’t record any, but at any rate, it says, “as they were going, they were cleansed.” I don’t know if it happened to all of them at the same instant, or if first one and then another got healed. But, suddenly by the Lord’s power, they all were restored to perfect health. If they had lost fingers and toes, they were restored. All of the devastating effects of this terrible disease were erased. It must have been a marvelous experience!
As I’ll argue in a moment, I believe that only the man who returned to give thanks to Jesus was saved spiritually. But, in spite of that, the cleansing of these lepers pictures what God does to the souls of those who call out to Him for salvation. He instantly cleanses us from all our sins. He clothes us with the perfect righteousness of Jesus. He restores and heals our souls. The only condition to receive God’s healing for our leprous souls is that we take Him at His word, that whoever believes in His Son Jesus will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Just as these lepers
Did not first try to clean up
And make themselves presentable,
So we are to come
To Jesus just as we are.
Just as these lepers
Did not just believe intellectually,
But had a faith that
Obeyed Jesus’ word,
So we must exercise personal
Obedient faith in Him
With regard to His promise
To save us from our sins.
But even though in one sense all ten lepers illustrate saving faith, in that they took Jesus at His word and acted upon it personally, in another sense the nine fell short of saving faith. The nine got what they wanted from God in terms of healed bodies, but they went no farther. They never returned to Jesus to receive salvation of their souls. They received the temporal benefit of healed bodies, but it is only to the one thankful leper who returned that our Lord proclaimed, “Your faith has saved you” [literal, 17:19]. In the same way, it is possible to receive special blessings from God in answer to prayer, such as a healing from a serious illness, and yet to fall short of the best blessing of all. Thus . . .
When we realize that God
Has blessed us with
Some temporal blessing,
We must not become satisfied
With that and stop there.
3) True Faith Leads Us To Glorify God.
We all should respond as the one leper did . . .
At the feet of Jesus
With thankful hearts.
The thankful leper represents
The full fruit of saving faith –
Giving joyful thanks to His name.
This leper’s praise was heartfelt – Verse 15. He glorified God “with a loud voice” (17:15). If before his voice had been hampered by leprosy, it was freed up now and he exercised it with full force! Others may have been embarrassed by his exuberance, but he didn’t care! Jesus had healed him, and he was going to make it known! This leper’s glad praise should be that of every person whose heart has been healed by Jesus’ mighty power.
Twice it is mentioned that the man glorified God (17:15, 18). To glorify God is . . .
To extol His attributes
And His actions.
It is to exalt Him,
To let others know
How great He is.
As the Puritans rightly stated, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever on account of His blessings of salvation toward us who deserved His judgment.”
C. H. Spurgeon points out that “while ten men prayed to Jesus, only one praised and thanked Jesus.” Sadly, here are far more who are prone to pray in a time of need than to praise God when He meets that need. Oswald Chambers observed, “The great difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and it is His blessings that make it difficult. Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere.”
If the Lord has delivered
Our souls from judgment,
We ought to let others
Know about it.
I have to remind myself that “Praise the Lord” is not just a slogan or something nice to do; it is a command. If my life is not marked by frequent praise to God for His many blessings, I am not being obedient. While prayer will last for this life only, praise will continue throughout eternity. Those who have experienced Jesus’ cleansing power should glorify Him.
Notice now that he is bowing “at Jesus’ feet.” Before the man had to keep his distance
from Jesus because of his disease, now he comes up near to Him and falls on his face at Jesus’ feet. I doubt if he understood the deity of Jesus, but nonetheless, he took the proper place of worship at Jesus’ feet. Jesus said in John 5:23, “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” We cannot properly glorify God if we do not fall in adoration at Jesus’ feet. He is the eternal God who willingly left the glory of heaven to come to this sinful earth and suffer and die for us. We must spend much time at His feet.
The man’s position on his face at Jesus’ feet also shows the proper attitude of humility that should characterize those who have been healed by His mercy. We owe everything to Him and can claim nothing as coming from ourselves. This leper wasn’t maintaining his dignity and self-esteem.
He wasn’t claiming,
“Jesus did His part,
But I did my part.”
He knew that he
Had been healed
Of Jesus’ mercy,
And so he readily
Fell on his face
At Jesus’ feet.
That’s where every saved person should camp out!
Noticed he did it with a thankful heart – The leper was “giving thanks to Him” (17:16). The Masai tribe in West Africa has an unusual way of saying thank you: They bow, put their forehead on the ground, and say, “My head is in the dirt.” Another African tribe expresses gratitude by sitting for a long time in front of the hut of the person who did the favor and saying, literally, “I sit on the ground before you.” These Africans understand . . .
What thanksgiving is and
Why it’s difficult for us:
At its core,
An act of humility.
It acknowledges our
Debt to the other person.
Clearly, Jesus was pleased with his expression of thanks and grieved at the absence of the other nine (17:17-18). Hebrews 13:15-16 states, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Every day we should be filled with gratitude for all that the Savior did for us when we were spiritual lepers before Him.
Thirteen years before his conversion, John Wesley had a conversation late one night with the porter of his college that deeply impressed him and convinced him that there was more to Christianity than he had found. Wesley discovered that the man had only one coat and that nothing had passed his lips that day, except a drink of water, and yet his heart was full of gratitude to God. Wesley said, “You thank God when you have nothing to wear, nothing to eat, and no bed to lie upon. What else do you thank him for?” The porter answered, “I thank him that He has given me my life and being, and a heart to love Him, and a desire to serve Him.”
Even so, if we who have known Jesus’ saving healing power in our souls will live each day to glorify Him with thankful hearts, others will be drawn to the Savior to find mercy for their souls.
Let’s all learn from this exuberant and thankful leper how to respond to God’s blessings, especially to the blessing of salvation. We should join him in glorifying God at the feet of Jesus with thankful hearts.
How often do we take our blessings for granted and fail to thank the Lord? Genuine faith will lead us to respond with overflowing gratitude and thanksgiving for what God is doing.
Four times the psalmist cries out, “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8,15,21,31). May our faith create the same response in our hearts.
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”