Christ, Our Righteousness, Part 12

December 10, 2015 at 4:49 AM

11 Now on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was entering a village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance, 13 raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went along, they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He fell with his face to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. (Now he was a Samaritan.) 17 Then Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to turn back and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to the man, “Get up and go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

10 were healed. One also wanted fellowship with Jesus.

10 were healed. One also wanted fellowship with Jesus.

The above text, from Luke 17:11-19 (NET), highlights an occasion when Jesus chose to heal ten men who had leprosy. From the standpoint of the Law, they were ceremonially and therefore legally, unclean. They knew this and followed the dictates of that Law, which forbade them from coming too close to a person who was not also a leper. “They stood at a distance…” to announce their uncleanness and to ensure that their unclean state would not affect the (ceremonial) clean person. In this case, it was Jesus whom they were remaining aloof from, but so in need were they that they still wanted to gain His attention.

They cried out to Him, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”

I find what transpired after this very interesting. Notice that Jesus did not – at that point – pronounce His healing on them. He simply told the men that they should go and show themselves to the (Jewish) priests. This was in keeping with Mosaic Law…for a person who had been healed. However, please note that they were not healed until they “went along” the way to the priests. It was a step of faith that Jesus essentially expected them to take. They could obey or ignore Him. How strong was their faith? Was it enough to appropriate God’s healing power? We don’t know how strong it was compared with other people’s faith, but we do know that their faith was enough to bring healing their way. They had enough faith in the Healer, however much God required, for them to be made whole.

Notice that the text tells us that the ten lepers were healed as they “went along.” Verse 15 tells us that one of the lepers, after realizing he had been healed, “turned back, praising God with a loud voice.” He turned back to Jesus, the One who healed him.

Notice that once he reached Jesus, he “fell with his face to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him.” Certainly, this was respectful. It was actually worshipful.

The narrative also throws in the fact that this particular man was a Samaritan, a person normally hated by Jews, dating back to the Old Testament when Israel became a divided nation (1 Kings 12). Here again, we learn that Jesus goes outside the established traditional order. Though He came to seek and save those who were lost – the house of Israel – He was certainly not above extending grace and healing to those outside of the nation of Israel. In general though, while Jesus walked this earth, His main mission was to do what He could to call the lost sheep of Israel back into the fold. He still had time for those outside that particular fold and reached out to them as well. In this case, we note that He did not deny healing to a Samaritan.

The narrative completes itself by noting that this one particular leper – a Samaritan – returned to Jesus, thanking Him for his healing. Jesus’ question to the man is very interesting. He asks, “Hey, weren’t there ten men? Where are the other nine?”

His next question is riveting. “Was no one found to turn back and give praise to God except this foreigner?” From this we can gather that the other nine lepers who were also healed were Jewish men. Unlike this one man – the Samaritan – they got their healing and went on their way. Either they were so intent on obeying Jesus’ instructions that they should present themselves to the Jewish priests or they were so excited about their healing that they didn’t stop to consider that they should at least offer some form of thanksgiving to the man responsible for their healing. In either case, they failed to do what they should have done because they worshiped at the altar of SELF.

Because they were Jewish, they were very well aware of the prophecies concerning the Messiah. If anyone fit the bill, it was Jesus, yet they were really only concerned about their own healing, which was granted to them because of their faith in Christ. Amazing, isn’t it?

Jesus ends his conversation with the healed Samaritan leper by stating, “Get up and go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

Without doubt, Luke’s narrative highlights Jesus’ divinity. He was and remains God, very God. He has/had the ability to heal people and used it frequently. Jesus expected gratitude for healing people, not because He needed it, but because it was the correct response for receiving something of such value free of charge. The fact that Jesus physically healed these lepers (though they would still eventually all die physical deaths), is wonderful. However, neither that healing or any other physical healing compares with the eternal nature of salvation, which offers healing to our souls as well as our bodies eventually. Though our current bodies will culminate in our coming physical deaths (or Rapture), it is through death for the saved that the ultimate physical healing occurs when we are given new, glorified bodies that can never become corrupted, faded, or would perish (1 Corinthians 15: 51-53). Physical healings are wonderful and for those who have experienced them – either through God’s direct hand or through the medical community – they are blessed events. Still, on their best days, those healings do not compare with the healing each person gains through salvation, by faith.

Jesus assures the one leper that the man’s faith made him well. In other words, it’s not that the man’s faith was its own vehicle through which healing came. The man’s faith was actually anchored in the One who was able to perform the healing and did so in response to faith evidenced. His faith opened the door (Revelation 3:20). The leper who turned back to praise and thank God was healed because of the fact that he had faith in the One who heals, just like the other nine. They understood that it was not faith alone that healed, but faith in the One who has power to heal.

This is what is wrong with the “name it, claim it” crowd or “Word of Faith” movement. Their faith is literally in their own faith or ability to believe. It’s not in God’s ability to heal, but in the power of faith itself. These people have divorced faith from God and placed it in themselves, falsely believing that in Christ, God gives us power to heal ourselves, our families, our situations, or anything else that we put our faith toward. This is simply another form of idolatry because that particular faith has its beginnings and endings in the person exercising the faith. It is not true faith. It is conjuring and that actually makes it worse than idolatry. It’s a form of religious witchcraft.

The one leper who returned to Jesus understood that Jesus was the One who healed him of his leprosy. When Jesus told the leper that his faith had made him well, He was simply agreeing that the leper had been right to place his faith in Jesus because Jesus is the Healer, both physically and spiritually (with the latter being far superior to the former). The leper had placed his faith in the Source of healing, not healing itself. Jesus acknowledged that and readily agreed with it. The fact that Jesus did not discourage the leper from thanking Him (Jesus), praising God, and bowing before Him, also supports the fact that Jesus accepted praise for the healing and only God can do that.

Let me ask a few questions here. First, even though only one man came back to Jesus to thank Him personally for the healing, is there any evidence that the other nine who did not come back to Jesus, lost their healing? No, there is no indication of this at all. Their healing was also permanent.

Second, is it safe to say that prior to Jesus healing the ten lepers, they had been clearly labeled as unclean? Yes, and their uncleanness kept them out of the main thoroughfare of Jewish life and society, especially where religious activity was concerned, correct? They could not participate as others who were ceremonially clean could and did participate. These lepers had to remain aloof from society or risk further censure. They were ceremonially (or legally, as far Mosaic Law was concerned) unclean. We could almost say that they were spiritually unrighteous. There was nothing they could do to change. They required something/Someone greater and outside of themselves to make the needed change for them. They could simply receive any healing offered to them…or not.

Third, what did it take to make the ten lepers ceremonially (or legally) clean? Clearly, it took an actual and complete healing from God Himself. Lepers were society’s outcasts. No one wanted to be around them. They were considered “contagious.” It took a miracle from God to remove the leprosy and the label itself.

Jesus healed ten lepers that day. The text says they were healed as they went along their way. They were healed. Going to the priests would allow them to be declared ceremonially (or legally) clean, because the priests acted as purity inspectors. Passing that test would allow them to participate in aspects of Jewish law and ceremony that they had not enjoyed for some time, or possibly ever. Because they would then be able to participate in all Jewish customs and laws (stemming from the Mosaic Law given to Moses by God), they would once again be in the position of being able to have fellowship with God because they could then draw close to Him in worship. Those who could not enter into the various aspects of worship in Jewish life would not be able to have fellowship with God. They remained at a distance.

The ninth leper came back to literally fellowship with Jesus. He returned with thanksgiving in his heart to overflowing. His gratefulness forced him to his knees before God the Son. Praise for God flowed from his heart and over his lips. He was so grateful. He couldn’t thank Jesus enough. He was in fellowship with Jesus.

The other nine lepers? They got their healing and went their way. Apparently, they had no time for fellowship. We can assume that even after they realized they had been healed and even saw the one leper heading back toward Jesus, they kept going. Fellowship wasn’t on the schedule for them. Too busy with externals now that they had their healing.

In some ways, Luke’s narrative of the ten lepers highlights different reactions to being saved (and we’ll talk more about this in an upcoming article in this series). They gain salvation but never really stop to consider the fellowship aspect of it. Like the nine lepers, they are overjoyed to have salvation and they continue to go their way, paying little to no attention to the One who provided it. Is it any wonder their joy (and potential fellowship with God), dissipates and sometimes disappears altogether?

There is nothing in the narrative to suggest that these ten lepers ever became leprous again. Though they eventually died physically, it likely had no connection to leprosy. Their healing of leprosy was permanent, for the duration of their earthly lives.

Ten lepers were “saved” from their leprosy. One returned to Jesus for fellowship. The other nine didn’t care about that. They wanted healing and got it. That’s all they were interested in obtaining from Jesus.

How about you? Do you have salvation from God? If so, you need to increase your fellowship with Him. It’s part of the process and we ignore it to our own detriment. Decide that you will be like that one leper.

Entry filed under: christianity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , .

Christ, Our Righteousness, Part 11 Christ, Our Righteousness, Part 13

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