This series looks at different passages that highlight Jesus’ pursuit of those many would label “outcasts.” In the series, Pastor Tito will discuss characters like Zacchaeus, the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet, a leper, and the thief on the cross, and others. In each of these situations, Jesus often goes out of His way to reach the outcasts of society. His love is extravagant and relentless.
In this message, we see a women who went out of her way to show Jesus her appreciation for Jesus having reached out to an outcast like her.
Read the SERMON SUMMARY below
BEING GRATEFUL FOR THE GREATER THINGS IN LIFE
There’s a lot of truth behind the statement, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone”. We all know it’s true but no one what’s to go through that kind of experience in order to learn that lesson. I met the love of my life at fifteen years old. Unfortunately I broke her heart and then broke up with her within two years. It is one of the biggest regrets of my life. So you can understand my excitement when I discovered that we were both single after four years apart.
I did what I could to see how she felt about me. At first she actually used the, “I’m washing my hair” excuse to avoid my calls. After how I ended things, I didn’t blame her. Eventually she started taking my calls and we would talk for hours. I later asked her to come visit some my family that she hadn’t seen in years. She said yes. I took that as a sign that things were getting better. Unfortunately, I got too ambitious.
This family visit turned it into a date by taking her to lunch before. I took this one-on-one time to share my heart and how I felt towards her. I thought things were going my way until this moment. That’s when we said, “I’m not looking to get into a relationship right now”. To her credit, she had just got out of a serious relationship and was trying to focus on her and God (you can’t get mad at that). What I regret the most what not sharing how I felt but when I shared it. I was turned down before the waitress even brought out the drinks. I had to awkwardly sit through the rest of the meal, the visit, and the drive back to her house.
I went out of my way to prove to her my love for her and how I had changed so that she would take me back (Praise God that she did). In the same way, Jesus went of His way to make a way so that God would take back outcasts like you and me. He showed this time after time throughout His ministry.
11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance. Luke 17:11-19
So far, the outcasts they we’ve looked at the Jesus reached out to were tax collectors and sinners. These people were shunned because of all of the wrong that they would do. These ten individuals were not rejected for doing something wrong but rather for having something wrong with them. They were diseased.
Back then, now one understood germs, infections, and disease the way we do now. Leprosy was considered a death sentenced. It was a disease that would eat you away from the inside out. One effect would be causing a person to lose sensation with the outside world. You would be numb to pain and even cuts. Walking around with open wound would quickly lead to an infection which would bring about other complications and sicknesses. It was common for lepers to lose limbs to either accidents or infection.
These individuals would be outcasted by their places of emplacements, communities, and even families out of fear of spreading the infection. To make things worse, they had to ring a bell and shout out, “Unclean!” to warn others. Could you imagine how painful it must’ve been to have to leave your home, never to be able to hold or kiss your loved ones ever again? Every ring of the bell would’ve been a dagger to the heart, reminding them that there was nothing they could do to make things better. I’m sure lepers would’ve done anything to make things better so that their family and friends would take them back.
13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Luke 17:11-19
How many of us have ever felt hopeless in a situation, or found yourself unable to make things better, wishing there was a way to undo a problem, wondering if it’s too late? Fortunate for these ten lepers, Jesus was passing by. Notice again how Jesus takes time to help someone even though He was heading somewhere else to do something very important.
Being busy didn’t blind Jesus from the needs of others. The temptation is real for all of us today to neglect important things because we are too busy doing other things. Balance is important, but what Jesus models here is that helping people is also important.
Jesus command for these individuals to show yourself to a priest was necessary for a diseased person to receive a certificate that would prove to others that they had been healed. From the text we see that the ten lepers were receptive of Jesus’ command. He didn’t heal them on the stop, but we see that these ten lepers headed towards the priests anyways, believing that God would heal them just which is what Jesus was implying. And while they were on the way, it happened. The healing came as a result of there obedience. But the story doesn’t stop there.
It’s amazing how ten lepers all shared the same experience of being healed, yet only one had a different expression.
15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19
You can’t deny that these lepers were not suffering, but it is interesting to see different expressions. We don’t know what happened to the other nine. They probably went to priest to get that certificate. If it was me and I had spent so long away from my family and friends, I would’ve gone to see them before anyone else. Who wouldn’t. But here we see that one of them cam back to Jesus FIRST. His actions of praising God and bowing at the feet of Jesus show us that he believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of God.
Apparently, the nine former lepers were content with having their bodies healed and nothing more. But this Samaritan was the only one to have his soul healed and his sins forgiven because he was grateful to God for the great thing that He had done in His life.
In this story, and throughout the Bible, we see that being grateful opens the gates to God’s presence. That’s is true for our lives today. Our lives would be radically different if we just understood that when we focus on what we don’t have we are then unable to see what we do have. It’s impossible to be grateful for the good things in our lives while at the same time complaining about all of the bad.
The psalmist encourages the reader in Psalms 106 verse one to, “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” The samaritan in our story did just this, praising God for His goodness and love towards an outcast like himself. Because he was grateful to God, the gates to His presence and power were opened and he was saved that very day!
Jesus and this lone Samaritan give us great examples to model, but be careful because many of us tend to be like the other nine lepers, being quick to pray and slow to praise. Many people tend to be like this in many areas of their lives. How many times do parents and kids tend to be quick to complain about the other while slow to show their appreciation and love? Being this way develops an ungrateful heart which shuts the gates for God to do more in our lives. But developing a grateful heart in our circumstances allows God to do miracles in circumstances and despite our circumstances.
If you can’t find any reason to be grateful, let me give you one. In fact, it’s the best one you’ll ever have. We all can be grateful for the cross of Jesus Christ. We are all born with a sickness called sin, and it eats us away from the inside out, making us numb to God, which causes us to live in a way where we can cause more damage to ourselves, until the day we die and find ourselves eternally separated from God in Hell. But we should all be grateful that Jesus gave His life on a cross, taking on our sin and sicknesses, so that we may be saved and healed from the inside out.
Jesus went out of His way to take your place, thus making a way for us to find new life. I know many complain when Christians say, “Jesus is the ONE and only way to Heaven”. Well, I’m grateful that there is actually a way, because without Jesus there would be NO way for us to get better. But that is not the case! Let’s not be quick to pray and slow to praise. Instead, let us be grateful for God’s great love by being slow to complain and quick to praise for all of the right that we have in God, despite all of the wrong that exists in our lives and in the world.