Healing the Ten Lepers: The One Who Sees is Thankful

Sermon notes from 1999 on Luke 17:12-19        The 10 Lepers

christlifegiver1Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.

They were lepers
They were respectful, they were obedient, they were humble

And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

They were reverent, faithful, pathetic, needy, helpless, desperate

So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.

Jesus was commanding, directing, ready to achieve, filled with power. He orders them to act as if they are already cleansed. They have been but don’t yet realize it!
They were obedient

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned

They were self centered, unobservant and self absorbed – they were self-satisfied, they got what they wanted. Were the others not happy? Were they not amazed at God? At their healing?   Only one in ten  could see.  They were blind not just leperous, only one saw that!

and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.

He was happy, he was grateful, he was a foreigner, he was a stranger

So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?

Was God unhappy with the foreigner’s thanks? Would God not listen to it? Or is this a miraculous sign, God’s love is not limited to Jews. God loves other people, including the diseased and disfigured, and foreigners.

“Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”

Jesus was dismayed. Had his word proved powerless and empty? Or did the healed lepers not connect their healing to Jesus? He had spoke to them as if they were already cleansed. Only one clearly understood Jesus command for them to go was what healed them. Only one recognized Jesus as having the power of God. The others had experienced the power of God, but in their blind obedience, in their literalistic thinking, they failed to see what had transpired – they failed to understand that the healing meant they had encountered God in Christ.

And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

He was healing. The other was healed, and enlightened. He was immersed in Christ and resurrected.

St. Nicholas – A Saint Not a Savior

nicholasSermon Notes from 6 December 1997 St. Nicholas of Myra

To have an adequate understanding of salvation one has to have a sense of catastrophe, for salvation is God’s action in dealing with catastrophe. Sin is a tsunami, devastating earthquake or hurricane – a catastrophe that has struck the earth and devastated humankind – causing massive death.

The moral optimist thinks that generous doses of goodwill or even education when applied to the great mounds of injustice, wickedness and corruption in the world will put the world aright. We just need St. Nicholas to correct what ails the world, or maybe like the television shows we just need a couple of angels to improve the world.

The technological optimist thinks scientific intelligence can solve the world’s problems of poverty, pollution, hunger and neorosis. Albert Einstein will save the world or Microsoft or Jean Lupicard.

But St. Nicholas only professed to be a servant of God, not the Savior of the world.  Saints are not saviors, but holy people who connect the Holy God to the world.

He did not try to keep God out of what is needed in the world. It is only if we fail to see sin as catastrophe or if we believe the world is in not too bad of shape that we think humanity itself can “fix” the world.* If humanity can fix the world, we don’t really need God. Only if we don’t understand the catastrophe which has inundated the world can we deny the need for God’s salvation.

God’s answer to the catastrophe of the world – of human sin and suffering, of poverty and pollution, of wickedness and war, of selfishness and anger – is to send His Son into the world – to take on suffering, not to fix it, but to make even this broken world a means to communion with Him. Even pain, suffering and death are shown not to have the final world, and not capable of separating us from the love of God.
* A note from 2008. The cover of the 8 December 2008 NEWSWEEK is “HOW TO FIX THE WORLD”!  featuring President elect Barack Obama.   See my Presidentolatry about electing a president not a savior.