People rarely call their insurance agent just to chat. Insurance is something we get in order to protect ourselves from harm. We are glad we have it, but hope we never have to use it. While insurance for a car is good, Jesus does not sell life insurance. Salvation is not a life insurance policy that you are glad you have but hope you never need. It is not a life insurance policy that is only beneficial upon death. Salvation is eternal life and a completely new life. Jesus is not an insurance agent we only speak with when we have a need. Jesus is the Lord of all creation who is worthy of committing our life to. In our text (Luke 17:11-19) this morning we will learn about an encounter Jesus had with ten lepers. We will discuss: 1) A Cry for Help, 2) A Command of Hope, 3) A Confession of Healing, and make personal application. Consider:
A Cry for Help (11-13)
Jesus, Master! It is also important to note what they called Him: “Master”. They did not call Him “Lord” or “Messiah” or “Son of David”, they called Him “Master”. A more literal reading would be: “Jesus, respected teacher in Israel who works miracles, please have mercy on us.” They were not professing faith in Jesus as the Messiah, but professing faith in Jesus as a miracle worker. They were humbling themselves before someone more powerful.
Have Mercy on Us! These men, according to the Law of Moses (Lev. 13 & Num 5:2-3) were ceremonially unclean and must live in isolation outside the village/camp. They were to let the hair on their head hang loose, cover their upper lip and cry out ‘Unclean, Unclean’ if they were to meet someone (Lev 13:46). They were isolated primarily for the protection of others for what most likely was a contagious disease. This is why these ten lepers “stood at a distance” and shouted to Jesus. It is important to note that they did not cry out “Unclean, Unclean” but “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” They knew that Jesus was able to heal and no doubt had heard of the many miracles He had already performed. These ten men cried out for mercy because they recognized their dire situation and Jesus’ ability to help them.
A Command of Hope (vs. 14)
Show Yourselves to the Priests. Jesus heard their cry for mercy and granted it. He put their faith in His healing ability to the test by telling them to go show themselves to the priests before they are even healed. Consider for a moment that they were lepers when they cried out to Jesus for mercy, they were lepers when Jesus told them to “go and show yourselves to the priests”, and lepers when they began walking to the priests. It is “as they went they were cleansed.” When they began walking they were lepers, but as they went to the priests they became cleansed of their leprosy so that when they arrived the priest would inspect them (Leviticus 14:2-4) and declare them ceremonially clean and could enter back into society. In Luke 5:14, we learned that another reason for this is because Jesus wanted it to be “as a testimony to them.” Their healing would be a testimony of Jesus’ healing power and a sign that God is with Him.
A Confession of Healing (vs. 15-19)
Ten Believed Jesus could Physically Heal. All ten believed that Jesus could heal their leprosy and all took steps of obedience in order to be healed of their physical ailment. They came to Jesus as the highly respected miracle worker and found a miracle for their physical condition.
One Believed Jesus could Spiritually Heal. All ten were cleansed of their leprosy, but “one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.” Jesus asked a very poignant and revealing question: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” Jesus laments that out of the ten only one returns to “give praise to God.” The fact that only the “foreigner” returned was noted by Jesus in His lament of the hardness among the Jews. Not only is Jesus being rejected by the Jewish leaders, but this incident shows a contrast between how the Jewish people and Samaritans are responding to Jesus’ grace and mercy.
Only One was Made Well. This Samaritan man, the only one to return and give thanks and praise is the only person to be told, “Rise and go your way, your faith has made you well.” What distinguishes the Samaritan from the other nine is that this man not only believed that Jesus could help him physically, but also spiritually. This man recognized that Jesus is sent from God, does the work of God, and is worthy of praise and worship.
Jesus asked a very poignant and revealing question: “Where are the nine?” Nine of the ten lepers had faith in Jesus as a miracle worker, were cleansed of their leprosy, yet left without giving thanks and praise to Jesus. These men were cleansed physically, but not spiritually. Only one of the ten lepers returned and was made well spiritually through his faith in Jesus. In light of this, let us pause to examine ourselves:
- Do I only come to Jesus when I have a problem? (Ignoring Him the rest of the time)
- When I find relief for my problems, do I praise Jesus or forget Him?
- Do I act as if Jesus a genie in a bottle that comes whenever I need something from Him?
- Do I speak and act as if Jesus is nothing more than a highly respected miracle worker?
- Is Jesus a person that I try to stay on good terms with because I may need His help one day?
- Do I speak and act as if Jesus is nothing more than a life insurance policy that I hope I never need?
If this is you, be careful because it appears that you are like the nine who called out for mercy in their time of physical need while ignoring Him when it comes time to find spiritual healing. We must remember that Jesus saves us to be His disciples today. We rejoice that we will be with Him eternally and we must rejoice that He is with us today. Let us give praise to God.