This year the story of Jesus’ encounter with the ten lepers will be read in church twice. First, on October 13 as the gospel appointed for that particular Sunday (Proper 23 Series C) and again on Thanksgiving morning November 28. Two different sermons still the same story. By this encounter with ten unclean persons Jesus demonstrates mercy and gratitude.
Jesus comes in mercy. And, by His Word, heals you. Jesus said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests,” (Luke 17:14) Of course, on the way to the temple to visit the priest they are cleansed.
There was no love lost between Jews and Samaritans. Had they been healthy, the nine Jewish lepers would have had had nothing to do with this person whom they considered a half-breed, little better than a heathen. But leprosy had made them all outcasts from society, depending on the kindness of strangers.
Christ came into the world to save all people, regardless of ethnicity, skin color, or other outward characteristics. We too, ought to fall at Jesus’ feet and give thanks for having rescued us from the far more dread disease of sin and its consequences of eternal, and not just temporal, death. This Jesus whom Himself was a descendant of a foreign, Moabite woman, has made you clean. He Himself is the High Priest who declares you clean to His Father, and gives you a place in His kingdom.
These men didn’t call out to Jesus just to say “Hello,” they called out because they were sick, in fact dying a very slow death, and it is precisely those people, whom our Lord came to rescue. Perhaps the greatest virtue of the Samaritan was his sense of self; the man knew precisely what he was and what he needed, more to the point, he knew where to get it.
After greeting the one soul who returned Jesus responds, “Rise up, go and keep going, your faith has and continues to save you.” Faith is always busy and active.
Lord, Grant that we may with thankful hearts receive these great mercies and express our gratitude, not only with our lips but also in our lives as we give ourselves to Your service and walk before You in holiness and righteousness all our days. Deliver us from sin and error, from the frailties of the flesh, the allurements of this present age, and the temptations of the devil. Give us faith that works in love, hope that never disappoints, kindness that never fails, confidence in You that never wavers, patience that does not grow weary, and courage always to be ready to confess Christ, that we may live in Your mercy and die in Your peace; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
-Prayer of adoration, praise, and supplication, Lutheran Service Book copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House