Open your Bibles please to Luke 17. We are looking at verses 11-19. Now, the more I studied this passage this week, the more I see the connections to the passage we looked at last week. We looked at how:
1. To be a Christian is to be a servant.
2. To be a servant is to be at work for your master.
3. To be a servant is to live a life without entitlement.
That last point is really the heart of the message that Jesus was teaching on. He was saying that true servants recognize the grace they have been shown by their master and don’t act like they are entitled to more when they have received so much from Him. The text we are looking at today speaks to the same issue, but from a different perspective. Did you ever hear the story of the man who was driving in the packed parking lot and asked God to find him a spot? He makes a bargain with God saying he will start going to church and reading his Bible if only God would find him a spot, then when one opens up, he says, “oh, never mind, I found one on my own.”
In some respects that is the other way we can see entitlement rearing its head in our hearts. In last weeks verse it is when we obey and still recognize the grace we have been shown to obey. In the text we are going to read today, it is when God shows incredible grace, and we fail to show Him the gratitude that He deserves.
Lets look at the text and see what it has for us today.
Ok, so a few things of note as we look at this text.
The first thing we need to see in this text is that Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem. What is significant about that you might ask? Well, we know from Luke 9:51 that Jesus had “set His face to go to Jerusalem” This is an important reminder as we read this description that Jesus is moving toward Jerusalem with the cross in view. Luke is reminding us as we read this story that what lies ahead for Jesus is betrayal, suffering, pain and death, but also resurrection and victory over death. Now, it also says that He is between Galilee and Samaria, which puts Him about 80 miles give or take from Jerusalem. He started his journey at the northern tip of the sea of Galilee and at this point is not quite halfway on his journey to the cross. So, to put it is ballpark terms, he started his journey somewhere this side of Williamsburg and is headed to Waynesboro and is passing through Powhatan, on foot. Imagine making that journey knowing what was ahead. During this trip, Jesus is encountering all types of people and using many of these moments to care for people and to teach His disciples.
So you can imagine when he was approaching this town that is not mentioned by name, he saw a normal sight. there were Lepers living on the outskirts of the village, who by law were required to stay away from “clean” healthy people. And when they saw Jesus coming, they knew who he was because they called out to Him by name. Now another thing that sticks out is that they not only called him by name, but they called Him master. Now, does that ring any bells as we think about the text we read last week? These men were calling Him Master, almost as if they heard the sermon last week. They wanted to be servants of this man who was as far as they knew, their only hope for healing from this deadly incurable disease that not only destroyed their bodies, but also destroyed every other aspect of their lives. They were outcasts, and literally just waiting to die. shunned by society and made to feel as though they were nothing. Their very existence was a constant reminder of the brokenness of this world, but also the fragile nature of life. When they cried out to Jesus, they were not crying from a position of power or of servants who had done what was asked of them, they were crying out as those who had no hope. They didn’t cry for accolades like entitled servants who had obey their master, they were crying out as those who had nothing to offer. They cried out for Mercy! They knew there was no cure for what they had, and they knew they needed divine intervention. Here, the great physician was in front of them and they cried to Him to be healed.
And so Jesus showed them mercy. Sending them to the priests, who were the only ones by law who could examine them and declare them cleansed of their disease.
Note here also that all ten of these lepers obeyed the command of Jesus, and experienced His mercy in the physical healing of their bodies. But if you note in the final verse of this text, Jesus declare something over one of them that He doesn’t declare over the others. Now the ESV translates the greek in verse 19 to the Samaritan leper who returns to give praise to God, “your faith has made you well”. I am not sure what your translation says there, but mine has a footnote their that says that this can also be translated that your faith has “saved you”, A phrase that Jesus uses in Luke 7:50, 8:48 and 18:42, which in all cases indicates more than just physical healing, but recognizes the presence of saving faith. He makes a distinction between them when he says were not 10 cleansed, but only one was “saved”
The other Lepers were cleansed of their infirmity, but the implication of this text is that only one was saved of his sin.
Now, what is enlightening in this passage is that we don’t know anything about the other nine other than they were healed and they did not return to Jesus to give thanks, like the others. We don’t know much more about the one who returned except that he was a Samaritan, and he returned to Jesus praising God with a loud voice and fell on his face to worship Jesus.
So, the question that this passage raises is: What is the difference between someone who has witnessed the power of Jesus and walks away entitled and someone who is a true believer?
- All the lepers recognized their total hopelessness. Did you know that there are people all over the world right now who have hit rock bottom in their lives. They know their desperate need for saving. They see the devastation that their sin has caused and are looking to just about anything they can find to fix their problems. That is why the largest section of most bookstores is the self help section.
- All the lepers cried out to Jesus for mercy. Sometimes when people are at rock bottom, they will cry out to Jesus. They will approach Jesus like another book that they pick up to try and improve their life. Now, here is where we encounter a warning that you don’t often hear in evangelistic messages, Matthew 7:13-23…
- Only one came back to worship Jesus as God. He Praised God with a loud voice. He Fell on his face at Jesus’ feet. He gave thanks to Jesus. This man’s experience with Jesus was one of heartfelt abandonment of decorum and ernest praise and thanksgiving. He praised Jesus, not only as a healer of His body, he praised him as God. This is not as evident in our english translation, but in the greek, the word used there for giving thanks is “eucharisteo” which in the other 37 occurrences of this verb in the New testament is always directed to God. He recognized not only that his life was changed, he recognized that the one who did the work was God, and his actions spoke to the affect of that belief. His actions of worship revealed the faith that had been given to Him by the work of the Holy Spirit…
You see, in reality, all people are in the position of the lepers spiritually. We have a leprosy that we contracted from the womb. We are born with the leprosy of a sinful nature. The destruction in our lives is not the thing that causes our hopelessness, it is the evidence of our hopeless state. We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. There is a difference. If you see your circumstances as the thing you need to be rescued from, you may receive help from Scripture, but it will only be temporal. You may get your life back like the nine, but one day you will face the ultimate test when your days on this earth are done and you stand before the righteous judge and you will see that the majority of the devastation in your life was not caused by other people, but your own sin. You will see that The greatest challenge to your life, was not the people who made your life miserable, but in fact your own sinful heart was the source of your oppression. Your idolatry, your selfishness, your arrogance. And what will you say to Him then? Will you say, “I turned to Jesus and He helped me with my marriage.” or will you say, “ I turned to Jesus and he helped me quit cussing.” or “I turned to Jesus and He helped me quit looking at pornography.” As if those were the greatest threats to your eternity. Or will you cry out with a loud voice thanking and praising God fall down at His feet and worship Him as God because You saw that your greatest hopelessness was your sin and you trusted in His finished work for you on the cross? Will You worship because you know that your sin was placed on the tree, and now there is no condemnation for you because you are in Christ?
The ultimate question I have for you is this. Do you see Jesus as someone who helped you through a difficult time in your life, or Is He your life? Is He a solution to your earthly challenges, or is He the solution to your sin? When you desire jesus for Himself and not for his blessings, you will have a heart of worship and gratitude, not entitlement.