In the Name of Jesus
14. Trinitatis 059
Cleopas, Luke 24,18
25. September 2011
1. O Lord Jesus Christ, we know that true Christian faith and hearty confidence in Your Name is the pure and noble gift of the Holy Spirit unto those who are obedient to Your Word. We thank You that You have also kindled this light in our souls, and granted that even we, though yet in great weakness, with such weak faith, may rest all our trust in You alone. Dear Savior, maintain and increase our faith within us. We do believe: O help our unbelief at all times. Let not the bruised reed be broken nor the smoking flax be quenched so long as we live; so that we may always embrace You in a believing heart, trust You without our whole hearts’ confidence, delighting always in the heavenly treasure of Your grace, unto our own peace and comfort, and daily find our joy in You, even unto the end (Löhe 242-3). Amen.
2. Our sermon text for this morning, dear brothers and sisters, is from the Acts of the Apostles according to St. Luke where the holy evangelist writes: 11On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12And as He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13and lifted up their voices, saying, „Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.“ 14When He saw them He said to them, „Go and show yourselves to the priests.“ And as they went they were cleansed. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus answered, „Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?“ 19And He said to him, „Rise and go your way; your faith has saved you.“ This is our text.
3. St. Luke presents for us in his Gospel an event of God’s gracious visitation of release for those in bondage to sin and sickness (Just 652). Here in Chapter 17, we see:
I. A cry for mercy.
II. The theme of salvation.
III. Jesus is worshipped (Just 652).
4. We have forgotten what leprosy is and how serious an illness it was. In our twenty-first century, medicine and pharmaceuticals have all but eradicated the most serious forms of leprosy. The disease of leprosy referred to any sort of skin diseases which may be simply a whitening of the skin that gradually effects more and more of the body, a more serious skin infection like a boil, or the worst case being a flesh eating bacteria that devours skin and limbs over time. As a precaution, those with skin disorders were immediately quarantined from the community as a precaution because some forms of leprosy were contagious. Such lepers often formed their own little communities in the wilderness outside of a village, and they were required to warn travelers approaching that they were lepers so that those unaware could bypass the lepers. The lepers’ life, therefore, was a solitary life separated from friends and family. Lepers were forbidden to attend worship services at the local synagogue and they were barred from the temple and its sacrifices. Lepers, therefore, became outcasts in Jewish society, and as such they were scorned as notorious sinners whom God surely had punished for their transgressions.
5. Thus, the lepers cry for mercy. They are removed from God and community. People refuse to draw near to them and talk with them. Travelers avoided their eyes and quickly ran away from their presence. Normally, the cry from the lepers to a caravan was „Unclean! Unclean!“ People got the point and went another way. On this occasion, the cry from the lepers was: »Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!« Removed from society as they were, even these ten lepers had heard about the Rabbi Jesus who has healed the sick and suffering. Perhaps they had heard that Jesus had earlier healed a man covered with leprosy (Luke 512-16). Word had spread, and was spreading, that Jesus is merciful and He brings healing to those afflicted. How greatly these ten men desired such mercy in their lives! They wanted to be welcomed back into the community and live their lives with friends and family.
6. Jesus is merciful to these ten lepers. He tells them to go and show themselves to the priests. The Mosaic law required that no leper be admitted back into the community until he or she had been thoroughly inspected by a priest. In this regards, the priests operated as doctors who meticulously examined a leper to verify that there was no trace of leprosy. Sometimes, leprosy went away on its own or with the help of herbs and ointments. Many times, however, a leper remained a leper until he died. Only the priest could declare a leper clean and healed. So off the men go to get the good news from the priest that they are cured.
7. Jesus had saved these men from a life of solitude among their own kind. They were brought back into the fellowship of Yahweh and now had access to the Word of God in the synagogue and the sacrifices for their forgiveness at the temple. All ten men believed Jesus, and by faith they went to the priest to hear the good news of their healing. One, however, was singled out for his faith, for he did not merely have faith in Jesus’ healing words but he had faith in Jesus as the Christ.
8. Not only did this leper receive Divine mercy in being healed from his disease, but he also received an even greater mercy, that of the Divine salvation that healed his separateness (Getrenntkeit) from his Creator. This leper, you see, was a Samaritan and in the eyes of the Jews he was no better than the pagan Greeks and Romans. What does a Samaritan know of covenant, faith, and salvation? Many of Jesus’ contemporary Jewish brethren would answer: Samaritans know nothing of such things.
9. Jesus entered the life of this Samaritan. He was a man doubly cursed as a Samaritan and as a leper, but Jesus came to this earth to save the outcast „announcing that the Samaritan’s cry for mercy was heard as a cry of faith and salvation has been granted“ (Just 652). He believed in Jesus not only as a great healer but also as an even greater Savior. Thus Jesus did not simply tell this Samaritan „Your faith has healed you.“, but more importantly He proclaimed to this Samaritan: »Your faith has saved you.«
10. The response of faith is worship. The Samaritan leper took note of his healing, and he straightaway returned to Jesus to fall on his hands and knees with his face bowed to the ground. This is the Middle Eastern posture of worship, and with it he gave thanks to Jesus.
11. The Samaritan has exchanged one community for another. He went from a community of outcasts to the Christian community of the accepted, and from a community of death to a community of everlasting life. The Samaritan entered the Church community and by faith he became a fellow brother and sister.
12. You are also a part of this Church community. Jesus had found you among a group of outcasts, called you to saving faith in Him, and in response you are here this morning to worship Him. What part of your life is in dire need of the Lord Jesus’ mercy? You know that He enters your midst to be gracious to you and to save you. He is concerned about your tribulations and your afflictions. By His Word He gives you the strength to endure what ails you or He removes it with His healing command. Cast all of your cares upon Him.
13. Go in peace, for your faith in Christ has saved you. Go in joy, for your faith assures you that Jesus is merciful to you. Go with a thankful heart, for Jesus is in your midst and is your Divine Providence. Amen.
14. Let us pray. O Christ Jesus, the Great Physician of our bodies and souls, as the report about You went abroad and great crowds gathered to hear You and to be saved from their iniquities, so may Your report spread from this house of worship and send the Holy Spirit to draw unto us men and women seeking and desiring salvation so that the gospel that is proclaimed here may be to them a message of healing and security.
One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you!
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the New Testament Greek Manuscripts, Luke © 1995 by Reuben Joseph Swanson.
Just, Arthur A., Jr. Luke 9:51––24:53. Copyright © 1997 Concordia Publishing House.