Mar 17 2019 Luke 17 - Developing a Heart of Gratitude
23rd March 2019
Lord, the waves and winds know Your voice that rule them. The waves and winds of our lives. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. You are the one who has forgiven us and we are free because of Your love – washed because of Your broken body and blood that was shed. Thank You. We can not only believe that we are cleansed but experience it. Help me to experience humility and be open to what You speak.
Luke 17:11 While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 13 and they raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" 14 When He saw them, He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they were going, they were cleansed.
Just a short story – but the first thing – the structure of the gospel of Luke – it is almost written like a travel journal – you’ll hear these phrases – on the way, as He was going… - In chapter 9, Jesus told the disciples that He would go to Jerusalem – and suffer and be killed – and his face was set to go to Jerusalem – there is this constant reminder the rest of the way. In chapter 9 out of 24, Jesus makes it clear He has purpose – the cross.
He is on the way – Samaria and Galilee – and along this road, there would have been a diverse population - Samaritans/Jews – who did not get along, but were integrated in these small villages where Jesus was going. There would also have been Roman soldiers camped out there – and in this situation, there were ten leprous men – a mix of Jews and Samaritans – we don’t know the exact mix – but we know there were ten.
In some of the other versions – ten men who are lepers – and that is important – because these men would have been defined by their disease in this society – they were lepers – that defined who they were. What Luke does – Men who have leprosy – Luke takes the definition of who they are and redefines it – first – Men – those made in the image of God – who happen to have leprosy. We are all men – who have ________ - fill in the blank. We are ALL made in the image of God, loved by God – and that is the delineation Luke makes.
Normally, in their world, ethnicity or race – was the primary way of defining a person – Jew/Gentile/Samaritan – But leprosy was so bad that it took precedence and took the primary way of defining someone. When we think of leprosy – we think of Hanson’s Disease – but this would have been any type of skin disease – and it says in Leviticus 13:45:
As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!' He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.
This was when they were traveling through the desert! This is HARSH! What they are telling them – you have to dress and act in a certain way as you drive people away from you! (Some of us do that naturally – but they were commanded to!)
It is not primarily because they were thought to be contagious – it is because they were unclean – and if they got too close to someone – they would make them spiritually and ceremonially unclean.
They would have been 50 paces away – and from a distance – shouted
13 and they raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" 14 When He saw them, He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they were going, they were cleansed.
Who else said Master! When Peter was fishing – Hadn’t caught anything – Master – we’ve been fishing all night and haven’t caught anything – but Master – at your bidding… - it is a phrase of showing authority.
These lepers understood that Jesus had authority over disease.
As they went – they were healed! Jesus doesn’t touch them – each healing is unique – in a personal way according to the people He is working with. They are not only cleansed – they are saved – this speaks of a spiritual healing. The word is salvation. The lesson is that we must step out to experience power. Yes, sometimes God just acts – but sometimes He wants us to act first.
15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, (this is a hyperlink BACK to Advent – the shepherds went back, glorifying God) 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him (this is the same wording as Peter falling on his face) – (Lord – He no longer sees him as an authority, but divine). And he was a Samaritan. (Samaritans were even more despised than the Gentiles – for you, what is the most despised people group? – This is the moral here – the one who is the most outside is the greatest example. That happens all the time in the Bible. We think – that person could never be the one that God would choose and accept – and that is ALWAYS the one!)
17 Then Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine-- where are they? 18 "Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?" 19 And He said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has made you well."
Luke called him a Samaritan – Jesus calls him a foreigner. Guess how many times this word is used in the Bible? One. This is a special word. A very special word – only used once, and the listeners would have known exactly what He meant.
This is an inscription on a block that is around the walls of the temple – and this word, foreigner – is on each of these blocks – no foreigner shall come inside these walls under penalty of death!”
What Jesus is doing – taking the greatest outsider and saying – he is the greatest insider – completely opening the doors to Him.
Why did the others not express gratitude? The first thought I had – and there is nothing in the text that tells us why they didn’t come – but it is okay to have imagination –
First – they were so focused on performing their religious duty – Jesus said – Go, show the priest – so focused that they were unable or forgetful to show gratitude. Sometimes we are so wrapped up in doing for God that we forget what God has done for us. The purpose of communion is to give thanks – Eucharist – means to give thanks – to show gratitude.
Our obedience and gratitude must flow out of an understanding of what God has done for us – dying for our sins – and in appreciation – we obey – it is not a matter of trying to ‘work that up’ all the time – “am I doing enough?” The only thing that works is remembering what God has done for us and allowing our lives to flow from that.
Our love is no good. It is no good at all – but God’s love flowing through You is powerful.
Second – that I thought – maybe they were so busy living their ‘normal’ lives – that they failed to stop and give thanks.
We are in the middle of lent. I think Lent is a great time to push the pause button. For many, and in our house – we give up some eating thing for Lent – or social media – or whatever – and the idea is to push pause and remember what God has done.
Sacred Pauses – April Yamasaki – she has a series of practices that help us pause and reflect on what God has done. You might not like all of these practices, but you might find one or two that help you pause.
I listen to podcasts all the time – and my iPod finally gave up the ghost. Cindy says – You could use your phone – and I don’t even like to use my phone as a phone! And I discovered that you can speed it up! I can’t figure it out at normal speed! We don’t just use that time – maybe take Lent to pause.
Maybe these people thought they had suffered so much with their disease that they thought they were OWED a healing.
But I would say that most just never developed a heart of Gratitude. It is not a personality issue. It has nothing to do with gratitude.
I won’t mention her name – it’s Annette – Hi Mike, I don’t have one specific thing that causes me to have gratitude because it is part of who I am. It is what life is like through my lenses. Others have called me Pollyanna – and they are right – so I share my gratitude with others.
It is a choice –
Here are some things that might help;
First – we must recognize our true condition before God – who are we in the story? It is NOT Jesus! We are one of the ten. We are lepers who have been healed and cleansed by God’s grace and mercy – He did that at the cross and it is easy to forget who we are. Especially if we have been doing this for a long time – we no longer see ourselves as the lepers.
We are healed and clean – all of our sins have been forgiven – in every possible way – God holds none of them against us – from a practical standpoint though – in our thoughts and actions – we are still lepers – but even as we see our thoughts and behaviors are not what they ought to be – we are perpetually washed – it is like we are always standing in the shower – always being cleansed – an unending grace and mercy – kindness and love.
Have any of you heard of Brennan Manning? Matt’s favorite – the Ragamuffin Gospel – this is a memoir of his – he was a Catholic priest who left the priesthood – was alcoholic and homeless – and then became an evangelical
"I’m brennan. i'm an alcoholic.
how i got there, why i went back, is
the story of my life.
i'm brennan. i'm a catholic
is not the whole story.
i'm brennan. i was a priest but no longer.
i'm brennan. i'm a sinner, saved by grace.
only God, in His fury, knows the whole of it."
Luke 17:15 15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine-- where are they? 18 "Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?" 19 And He said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has made you well."