Sermon Follow Up - Week 16, 2021
Up to this chapter in this book that is an orderly accounting of the life of Jesus that is written to help a likely Roman official named Theophilus to be certain of the things that he had been taught. We’ve been walking with Him at this section in the gospel of Luke toward Jerusalem. For many months now he has been going back and forth through Israel preaching the good news of the kingdom, doing many miracles, healings, and casting out demons. We’ve witnessed him showing compassion and sympathy, tenderness and mercy, yet speaking pretty straightforwardly about judgment; about hell and punishment. He’s been proclaiming this message to wake up the people of Israel to the absolute necessity of looking to him alone as their Lord, Savior, and Redeemer.
While Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem (beginning in 9:51), we find him in this passage north of Jerusalem, passing between Samaria and Galilee. And he is continuing to heal people and proclaim the kingdom along the way. He’s spoken with the disciples about a life of forgiveness that is to mark their faith, an ever increasing trust in the powerful God that is to mark their faith, the humble obedience that is to mark their faith, and now we come to this final section where Jesus gives them an example of the expression and outcome of their faith.
Throughout this entire section, the focus has been on the overarching wonders of faith – a disciple’s belief and experience of having received the mercy of God and how it informs one’s life.
The Sermon Text
“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”” (Luke 17:11–19 ESV)
The Main Point of the Sermon
The genuine faith of a disciple of Jesus is revealed in their posture of humble worship.
Sermon Points, Additional Scriptures, and Quotes
The Healing Mercy of Jesus with the Ten (vv. 11-14)
- The condition of leprosy: The severe version of this disease would attack the nerves and skin. It causes your body to not be able to feel things properly and your limbs become entirely numb. And then the potential for serious injury becomes large. It evidently begins with a white or pink patch of skin usually on the face or head somewhere. The patch then begins to spread in all directions, a portion of the eyebrows disappears; spongy, tumorous swellings begin to grow all over the face, causing deep furrows between the swelling so that the face is significantly contorted. The lesions begin to spread all over the body as the disease becomes systemic and the open sores begin to stink. One could both see and smell a leper approaching. I read that it can become involved with the internal organs as well as the skin. Fingers and toes can fall off or be absorbed into the body, and through the spread of the disease can cause your bones to shrivel. With the loss of feeling in the body due to the nerve disease, most actions of the body cause increasing damage. Eyes can be damaged, blindness would occur. It could penetrate the teeth so they fall out. The organs steadily damaged. And evidently on common occurrence is that the larynx, the voice box, would often be so adversely affected that one would wind up with a weak, raspy voice.
During biblical times leprosy was so severe and widespread that there was a very real potential for it to wipe out entire towns, cities, and peoples.
- “Have mercy on us.” It’s a statement that recognizes one’s miserable condition. It’s an honest statement that comes from a realistic understanding that one is in a situation that they can do nothing about and must depend on something that is altogether superior in power to the power that holds them captive.
- “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” These men were desperate enough to trust the one in whom they cried out to mercy from and follow him in obedience. The lepers believed that Jesus was powerful enough and caring enough to show them mercy and heal them, but would they believe his word? Would they believe in HIM?
- “… And as they went they were cleansed.” Now, there were no fireworks, no angry Pharisees, no crowd in awe. The lepers cried out for mercy, Jesus commands them to do something, they trust him and obey his word although it doesn’t make entire sense to them in the moment, and as they walk in faith they are entirely healed. You might rightly imagine how amazing this miracle was as it was being discovered. Perhaps their voices began to clear up. Perhaps as they looked at one another they saw skin returning to normal, faces smoothing out, fingers being restored, eyesight returning in full, and any number of other things. We would be right to think that this would have been what amounted to the most amazing thing these ten men had ever experienced. They had received healing mercy from Jesus. Their physical lives were entirely changed. Their social status would return. No more crying “unclean, unclean.”
These men were all sick and desperate. They had all come to Jesus. They had all started towards the priest. They all received healing. The ten had received healing mercy from Jesus. But while all ten had experienced these healing mercies, only one seemed to be genuinely affected in the core of his being.
The Saving Mercy of Jesus with the One (vv. 15-19)
One of them, when he saw that he was healed, stopped in his tracks, turned around, left his mates and came back, as you might imagine, full of joy. How life is going to change for this man. His family. His friendships. His interaction with others. You can imagine how many things would be going through his mind. Certainly, this was happening as well to the other nine guys as they continued on to the priests at the temple where they would once again be able to join the worship there. But one thing stands out for this one, healed leper. One thing that is fundamentally different in this one man than the other nine. He realizes, in that moment, that this Jesus whom he had just cried out for mercy from was someone entirely other. Yes, he was glad for the healing. Who wouldn’t be?! But amid the wonder of the healing, this man realized in this moment, for the very first time that no matter what the other nine men did, no matter how much they may have tried to convince him to keep trucking to the temple, that this Jesus who had healed him was in fact not just a miracle man, but was someone entirely other and worthy of his worship. And so what he came back to do was to praise God with a loud voice and fall on his face before Jesus. This is an act of worship.
- He Praises God with a Loud Voice (v. 15) - Usually we just fly over such descriptions, but consider that the leprosy likely had stripped him of being able to speak loudly at all. But now, his voice was no longer raspy, or adversely affected by leprosy. Now he could should out loudly with fully healed vocal chords.
Elizabeth had used the same kind of “loud voice” when she was filled with the Holy Spirit way back in chapter one. The unclean spirit in Luke 8:28 shoulted out with a loud voice when confronted by Jesus. This isn’t just speaking loudly…it’s a loud voice on account of significant emotion and joy. Think about the football/soccer commentators when a goal is scored…. GOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!! We don’t have to wonder what this loud voice is. This is unabashed praise. Unabashed enthusiasm. And not just any kind of praise thrown to the wind, this was the man previously known as a leper shouting out praise TO GOD at the top of his lungs. He knew where the power to heal had come from. He knew who had healed him and he knew Jesus was more than just a mere man.
- He Falls at Jesus’ Feet (v. 16a) - This is a clear act of worship. He knew, even as a Samaritan, that God and God alone was to be worshipped. And he worships him. He falls at his feet. He takes on a worshipping posture. Another recognition that Jesus is exactly who he says he is – and this man, one out of ten, sees him for who he is. He gets it and he responds in the only way one can respond when given eyes to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus.
- He Gives Thanks to Him (v. 16b) - He knew that it was God in Jesus that had given him this gift. He couldn’t keep from praising God with a loud voice. He couldn’t keep from falling at the feet of Jesus in worship and humility. And He couldn’t keep from thanking him profusely for the mercy he had received.
He could not restrain his praise, he could not restrain his worship, he could not restrain his thanks, but his posture is one of utter worship. A renouncing of trusting in himself. A renouncing of trusting in his friends. A renouncing of trusting in his traditions. And an absolutely radical understanding of, and belief in, who Jesus truly is. That Jesus is the Son of God and worthy of his worship and his life. This is the expression of true faith.
1. Where did everyone go?
“Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17 ESV)
Jesus is simply stating that they ought to be here with this one Samaritan also. Where are they? Well, presumably to the priest and to the temple. They missed Jesus. They received healing mercy, but now saving mercy. They don't have any interest in Jesus anymore. They got what they wanted out of Him and they have no desire to worship Him, no desire to glorify Him, no desire to thank Him. They don't see Him as God. They don't fall down and give to Him what you only give to God. They don't glorify Him as God. So yes, ten were given healing mercy…but only one life was changed at the core on that day. The one man, the one man knew he needed a Savior. And he knew he had come face-to-face with God and his life was changed at the very core. He knew he was a sinner and was in desperate need of mercy. God owed him nothing…he owed God everything…just like the story that precedes this story. But he knew that God himself, under no obligation whatsoever, had showed him mercy and compassion, kindness and power and his response was one of true faith that expressed itself in praise and thanksgiving.
How many people have heard the good news of Jesus, have seen the works of God, even been recipients of the mercies of God, yet are like the nine who settle for the gifts and leave the Giver in their rearview mirror? Friends, for the one who has truly understood their desperate need for mercy not just in their temporal circumstances but their eternal condition before Holy God, this person’s life will be one marked by humble worship, praise and thanksgiving to God. The person of true, saving faith will continue to grow in understanding that we do not deserve anything from God, and that everything he gives us is mercy. And we become the most thankful people who live to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
2. Familiarity Breeds Contempt
“Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”” (Luke 17:18 ESV)
The Pharisees knew God and his word. They were familiar with God, but they were, in fact, his enemies. The people of Jesus’ hometown knew Jesus but they rejected him and tried to hurl him off a cliff. Familiar with Jesus, but filled with contempt for him nonetheless.
It seems that the other nine who were heading back to the priest and the temple were most likely Jews – Jesus seems to state pretty clearly that only the returning man was a Samaritan, a foreigner – so all these other men were accepted in the temple. They were God’s people. Now that the leprosy that unified them despite their historical hatred of each other was gone, the separation was clear. The Jews were clean and acceptable, not so the Samaritan. Sounds a lot like how the Pharisees viewed the outcasts Jesus spent time with. The reality is, these Israelites had been recipients of God’s healing mercy, but their familiarity with their nationalistic religion bred contempt for the Eternal Savior as they walked away from him right back into their contemptable self-sufficiency.
The man who returned to Jesus was not only healed of his leprosy, but saved. And he was a Samaritan. A foreigner. He had no access to the inner court of the temple. He was an outcast. He was doubly outcast as a leprous Samaritan…but now even without leprosy, he was still a Samaritan. Unaccepted. Outcast. Hated. He couldn’t go to the temple. But instead...
He walks right back face-to-face with God Himself and goes into His own Holy of Holies (John MacArthur).
This grateful Samaritan is yet another example of the outcast who believed. Like the Samaritan woman in John 4, or the tax collectors and sinners, the prostitutes who surrounded Jesus and of whom He said He'd come to call the sinners not the righteous. What we’ve been seeing in this gospel is that many people hear the message of Jesus. Many people enjoy the mercy of God in the power and compassion of Jesus. But in the end, only a few come, fall at His feet, glorify Him as God, worship Him, humble themselves, and offer Him thanks.
Take time to write out some answers in your journal/notebook
How can we grow to live lives of humble worship? One way to grow in this is to follow the example of this one man in the story. To praise God and give thanks to God with increasing regularity. From the moment we wake to a new day, breathing, heart beating, sun shining, rain pouring, to the drinks and foods we enjoy, to the flowers we smell and the friends we laugh with and the people we grieve with, in our interactions with neighbors and co-workers, when we see God meet someone in their difficulty, when we sense God’s nearness, when we are confronted by a problem that forces us to depend on God – each and every one of those things, along with just the enormous and eternal implications of gospel grace in our lives, are blessings from God and true faith expresses itself in humble worship, praise and thanksgiving.
How will you respond to this? You can be blessed by God in many ways and still have contempt for God. He is merciful. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. You can hear the story of the gospel week in and week out and still just walk away while your heart beats and your lungs breathe on account of the patient mercy and provision of your Creator. You can even thank God for your health, or your family, or your job or whatever, but continue to walk away from him in your self-sufficiency and walk right into eternal hell. Or…and I pray that each will do this…you can recognize your need of mercy from God and turn back to Jesus, falling on your face in humble worship before him as your Master and Savior, and the miracle that he did for that man on that day, he will do for you, just as he has done on countless times among the nations for the last two thousand years. Trust in Christ, return to Him and believe on him and you will be saved.
RESOURCES FOR THIS WEEK
Consider Reading the Section Entitled...
Life in Christ
SONGS TO CONSIDER
Song - "All Must be Well"
Song - "How Can I Keep From Singing"