2015-4-26 When Healing Is Only Skin Deep!

LUKE 17:11-19                                                                                          APRIL 26, 2015


I have observed that many people seem to take for granted when someone does something nice or kind. It now stands out, like the first flowers of spring when someone expresses gratitude for what you did. It is not surprising that people often came up to Jesus wanting to be healed of their diseases or infirmities. Luke records this event as happening when Jesus was heading toward Jerusalem for the last time. This healing of the ten lepers is only recorded by Luke.

Luke 17:11-13 (NIV) 11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” In the time of Jesus everyone who had contacted a skin disease was considered unclean and was cut off from normal society. Leviticus 13:45-46 (NIV) 45 “The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp.”

You can imagine how difficult it would be to have any friends as most people would not be able to associate with you. Everyone would be fearful of your approach. The only people who would not shun you would be others who were suffering from the same affliction. It is no surprise that a group had gathered together for mutual support. This group would have heard the stories of Jesus healing people and would think why not ask Jesus for healing. What did they have to lose? Luke also mentions that one of the ten lepers was a Samaritan.

The Samaritans were descendants of the Jews who had remained in the land during the Babylonian exile. The Jews, who remained, had married non Jews, which was forbidden in the Law. When the Jews returned from exile they would not associate with the Samaritans who were these descendants. This animosity between the Jews and Samaritans was so intense that all contact with one another was avoided as much as possible.

It is no surprise that Jesus had compassion on these poor people who were suffering from the disease and were cut off from a normal life. Jesus did not heal them right away, but he gave a task for them to accomplish which required their trusting him. When a skin disease disappeared an individual was required to go to a priest and be examined and go through a ritual of cleansing whereupon they could then be declared “clean” and be fully restored to a normal life.

Luke 17:14 (NIV) 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.”Jesus had asked them to trust him. They obeyed and as they went they were healed. Can you imagine their joy and excitement? They would have been able to rejoin their families and be able to touch others and receive a hug without fear of exposing them to sickness. When we are sick, we sometimes feel cut off and alone. We desperately want to be healed and be able to live a normal life again. These ten lepers now had the chance they had hoped and prayed for. You know they were grateful to be healed. Now, what would you have done? Would you have gone back and thanked Jesus and praised God; or would you have rushed on to see the priest so you could be restored to a normal life?

Luke 17:15-16 (NIV) 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him–and he was a Samaritan.” Only one of the ten came back to thank Jesus. Only one was able to think about the one who had healed them. Scripture teaches that only God is the One who heals and restores. Yet the others went on their merry way without thanking God, and without thanking the one who healed them. Their actions revealed their character, what they truly believed. They were so wrapped up in their own life that they did not stop to thank God.

Luke 17:17-18 (NIV) 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” One of the many problems in our society is one of ungratefulness which often leads to a sense of entitlement. People think that they deserve preferential treatment. We forget the teaching of scripture that we all stand before God as guilty. Romans 3:10-12 (NIV) 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Romans 6:23 (NIV) 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” All that we deserve is death, for our righteousness is as filthy rags. The Samaritan was the only one who understood what had occurred and who had healed them. The others were only thinking of how their healing had affected themselves.

God extended grace to all, by showing mercy to all ten individuals. Yet only one was astute enough to recognize the gift of mercy they received. Only one came back to Jesus to praise God and thank Jesus. Luke 17:19 (NIV) 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Only one had the faith to see the miracle of God and came to Jesus. The Greek language indicates that spiritual healing took place as well as physical healing. The man was saved!

The remaining nine only experienced healing that was skin deep! The nine were healed of their disease but they remained lost in regards to salvation. We need to become a thankful people. In the film “Courageous” a father has gone to his pastor because he is grieving over the loss of his nine year old daughter, who was killed by a drunk driver. He pours out his soul and his grief expressing his loss of never being able to see her graduate, get married, and have a family. The pastor told him he had a choice. He could focus on the years that he had lost with his daughter or he could be thankful for the years that God had given him.

This story as told by Luke reminds us of the importance of being thankful. The more we focus on what we do not have or think we need; the greater the danger of becoming bitter and resentful. We have a choice each day. We can either focus on what we do not have or we can be thankful for all that God has given us. The more we praise God for his goodness the more we will see the goodness of God that already surrounds us.

Are we ready to thank God for his goodness to us? The choice is yours!

Let us pray.

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