Jesus Where We Need Him
This week’s text is Luke 17: 11-19. This sees Jesus on the way to Jerusalem and finding ten lepers in need of healing. As per usual, Jesus finds them, and us, where they are. Jesus always finds us at our point of need. Also, as per usual, Jesus is not afraid or hesitant to interact with those whom society deems unclean. In this ancient world something like leprosy would be considered a sign that you had done something wrong in the sight of God and were being punished for it. Jesus rejects this view, as He always does. He offers His healing power to them as He sends them to the priests. All this occurs because the lepers have faith enough to ask Jesus for help.
The Response to the Gifts
As the lepers notice that they are clean, one turns back to prostrate himself before Jesus and to thank Him. Jesus then asks this thankful person where are the other nine? You can almost hear the disappointment in Jesus’s voice. “Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Verse 18). I will briefly note that as in other places in Scripture, it is the foreigner, the one we least expect to, that is the most faithful and gracious. Jesus is always challenging our biased assumptions.
The question Jesus asks points to one of the key facets of faith; the response to what God has given us. As Jesus points out in Verse 19 “your faith has made you well”. It was the belief in Jesus that led the ten to Him in the first place. This was what set them free and cured them. This is true of us as well. It is our faith in Christ as Risen Lord that sets us free and obliterates all that stands between us and an eternal relationship with our heavenly Father.
The salient point of this story is how do we respond. We offer our thanks and praise as well as living the best life we humanly can because we have been cured and saved. The sad reality of our world is much the same as in Jesus’s time, far too many simply take it for granted that they have been healed and truck on down the road without ever turning back and thanking God or seemingly have this salvation make any real difference in their lives. This is what the theologian, and martyr to the Nazis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace”, a grace that comes with little or no response.
I would say at this point we need to be careful. We do not know the true state of an individual’s response to God’s gifts of grace upon grace. This is God’s business so, as always, this judgment is God’s not ours. Second, if we truly examine our own response, we might come to the realization that our response is lacking. As always, taking the log out of our own eye first is sound advice.
All we can do is honestly look at ourselves, the gifts we have been given and the response we make to these gifts. Let us hope that honest examination leads us to be the one who returns in thanks and praise, rather than the nine who continue down the road without acknowledging the source of their healing. As always believe, then endeavor to obey.
Praise Be to God