28 November 2013
Only one returns to give thanks. Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Where there none found that returned to give glory to God except this stranger? Jesus concludes by speaking to this foreigner, "Go your way, your faith has made you whole".
They were all from the same village. Thus, they knew each other. They had a collective sense of community among themselves. Not based on faith. Nine were Jewish, one a Samaritan. The Samaritans, they believed in the Bible, at least some of it. They believed that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament. They observed and followed the Law. Specifically they were strict adherents to the 10 commandments. They believed that Messiah would come. They were more "practical" when it came to living out the faith.
They stood at a distance. This terminal disease, leprosy, had not only brought them together. From it they had formed a common bond. They each knew the outcome. Theirs was a terminal disease. And without divine intervention, their common bond would be their common end. They didn't have Facebook back then. There weren't any inspirational posts for them to share as in, "I might have cancer but cancers doesn't have me!" At least, they had each other.
To be diagnosed with leprosy was more of a social pronouncement rather then medical. Folks with Leprosy were suspect. Almost like AIDS victims a quarter-century ago. Folks kept their distance, on a number of levels. A reason wasn't necessary. everyone knew...they were dirty!
They pleaded for help. "Jesus, Master, Have mercy on me!" That prayer Has been prayed across the centuries. "Lord, I believe,help Thou my unbelief!" "lord, I am not worthy for You to enter my house, yet say the word, and my servant shall be healed..." "Yes, Lord, it is not right to take the children's food and toss it to the dogs, yet even the dogs, eat the crumbs which fall from the Master's table." "Lord, help me!" "Lord, remember me when You enter Your kingdom." " O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world, have mercy upon me, and grant me Your peace." Kyrie Elision...Lord have mercy!
They each went to the priest. They did this at Jesus' command. Which must have sounded quite strange. You only went to the priest as an affirmation that you were in remission. Only the priest could verify that a cure had come. Only the priest could pronounce you "good to go" Jesus commanded they go to the priest for He knew, in advance of the miracle what would happen next.
Jesus, the author of life planned out every circumstance for these men. Likewise, He orders your day, He directs your path - regardless. Regardless of outward circumstances, regardless of obstacles 'in your road', regardless of past experiences and present details The Lord remains faithful. Each was cleansed along the way. No sooner had they arrived at the Tempe they receive a clean bill of health. Restored, redeemed, forgiven. And forever free.
Ten were cleansed. Only one returns. All ten were cleansed. Jesus treated them all the same. He healed every single one of them . There were no exceptions. The Hebrew son and the Samaritan rebel were treated all the same. God is no respecter of persons. There is no preferential treatment in God's economy. How so? We are all equal. What joins us together as one is our sin. "All have sinned", the Bible teaches us. We're under the same condemnation and the same curse.
Yet one did return to give thanks. Someone you might not expect. Yes, the Samaritan. Jesus reminds us of his status, one again, "and he was a foreigner!" A man, deeply hated by God's own people, is commended. He is welcomed into God's family. He shares the same status as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; sons of God, heirs to eternal life.
Finally, the savior says two things that are rather remarkable. First, He says,"Rise and go your way." That man hadn't done that in years. Go where he wants to, do what he wants to, interact with those he wants to. That's the definition of freedom! this man is free as he can move without restriction.
Jesus also says, "Your faith has made you clean/whole!" Even one such as this foreigner can possess saving faith. Such a one as this is included at the Father's table. Who is the Samaritan among you this thanksgiving? How you answer this last question says a lot of your perception of God and those who are in the kingdom.