Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr.
Can you think back recently to when the Lord blessed you beyond measure? What about a circumstance where the hand of God did for you what you cannot do yourself? The fact of the matter is, God is always moving on our behalf, whether we see it or not. I love the story of the Ten Lepers in Luke 17:11-19. Not only do we see a miraculous healing of Jesus, but it may, in a way, keep us honest about how we respond to Jesus when he meets us in our lowliest valleys.
Jerusalem, Samaria, and Galilee
But before we dig in, let’s explore the context of the setting we see Jesus and the ten lepers in. Our scripture passage takes place around three different cities: Jerusalem, Galilee, and Samaria. Jerusalem was considered the holy “City of God.” It was known that God dwelled there as well, so when we consider why Jesus was going to Jerusalem, it all makes sense. However, as we look at the other two cities, Galilee and Samaria, we discover that temple leaders and those caught in religion scratched their heads in disbelief.
These two cities, or places of rejection, were homes to a mixed breed of people who were considered impure and lacking. Unlike citizens of Jerusalem, they were of both Jewish and Gentile descent and often treated as unclean. Galilee, the place of Jesus’ boyhood home, was anything but insignificant. Throughout the Gospels, we see that it is here that all but one of his disciples were chosen, 25 of his 33 miracles were performed, and 19 of his 32 parables were spoken. Furthermore, Jesus chose Galilee, a city of rejects, as the home base for his ministry. Samaria was even more so considered an unclean city, as this is where the Samaritans, those that the Jews believed to be mixed blood rejects, called home. Not only that, but the Jews loathed the Samaritans and would avoid contact with them at all costs.
But not Jesus. Our Messiah made it his business to stop in these two towns before treading on to Jerusalem.
The Ten Lepers
In verse 12 of our text, we are introduced to ten men with leprosy, an incurable skin disease. According to Jewish law, anyone with leprosy wasn’t just considered unclean, but super unclean. Therefore, it was enforced that those who contracted this disease stay away from others. And to add gas to the fire, their families, friends, and community were required to do the same to prevent the spread of infection. They were considered outcasts of their city, and in their isolation, these men formed their own community, and the only thing they had in common was their sickness. Yet, somewhere through, in, or around these cities, and these outcasts, Jesus, the King of the Jews, was present.
Inclusion of the Outcast
Jesus cares about the rejects, the outcasts, and those labeled as not good enough. He cares about those infected, those who have been forgotten, and those labeled unclean. He loves and cares for those that nobody wants. Jesus, God in the flesh, came to sit with the outcasts, to love and serve them, and remind them of their importance to God. Maybe you feel rejected, unseen, unheard, or unloved by those around you. Can I share some good news? God cares about you. He sees you, hears you, and loves you with an everlasting love.
Three Ways to Respond to Jesus
While the lepers were considered to be outcasted nobodies, they showed us the importance of how we should respond to the goodness of God.
- REQUEST (Luke 17:13)
“And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’”
Luke 17:13, NKJV
This verse speaks volumes. Not only did they lift their voices in requesting what they desired, but I believe they cried out from the depths of their pain and need.
These ten men weren’t ashamed to ask for mercy or compassion. Nobody else wanted them, but Jesus did. And the same goes for us today. He is concerned about the uncertainties in our lives, the painful conditions we are wading through, and the cries of our hearts. And while others may have pushed you aside, Jesus wants to pull you in. Oh, the beauty of these ten men crying out to God in the flesh, as he was on his way to the “City of God”! Don’t be ashamed to make a request. He is listening and proves faithful to always incline His ear.
- RESPONSE (Luke 17:14)
When we make a request, Jesus, in his goodness, always responds according to the timing and perfect will of the Father. Occasionally, we must wait on the Lord; however, many times, Jesus works in ways and in timings that strengthen our faith beyond what we can comprehend. These ten men made a request, and Jesus responded.“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.”
Luke 17:14, NKJV
The only way an outcast could be declared clean in the Old Testament was if the priest deemed you clean. This involved showing them that your physical condition had improved. Likewise, obedience to God’s word and abiding by Old Testament law required these men to make a move. Luke 17:14 tells us that as these men were on their way to obey the word of Jesus, they were healed! As they did what God called them to do, their conditions were changed. I wonder if you are still enduring a challenging condition because God told you to do something, and you failed to do it. Maybe He told you to tithe, but you haven’t done it. Perhaps He told you to repent and seek forgiveness, but you haven’t done it. Quite possibly, He told you to get counseling, but you haven’t done it. Might I encourage you to respond to Jesus by making a move? Don’t sit around and wait for a better time, don’t push it to the side – make a move! These men got their miracle because they were obedient right away. As they heard, they went. And as they went, they were healed. I believe that we serve a God willing to move on our behalf when we are obedient to what He tells us to do.
Will you respond to Him and make a move?
- RECOGNITION (Luke 17:15-16)
Not only did the lepers make a request of Jesus, but Jesus responded. And not only did Jesus respond, but out of the ten men, one leper recognized the miracle-working power and love of God. He saw that his body had been healed, his circumstances had been changed, and God had made a move on his behalf. “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.”
Luke 17:15-16, NKJV
This one man came back to give God recognition with a loud praise! He wasn’t quiet; he didn’t whisper. Instead, he opened his mouth with a loud praise of thanksgiving. The fact of the matter is that Jesus has moved in each of our lives. He has done something significant, whether that be an answer to prayer, healing from an addiction, a restored relationship, or an unexplained miracle. There is something He has done in your own life that you can recognize! Furthermore, He may have done something private that you can’t quite share yet, but you can still give Him glory, praise, and thanks. As we go back to verse 14, Jesus told the men to show the priest that they were healed. But you see, this one man never made it to the priest. He got healed! And guess what? He may not have made it to the temple priest, but he did make it to The Priest. This man returned to the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and the Priest of Priests. Lift your hands, open your mouth, and thank Him!
Where are the Nine?
God works significantly in each of our lives, so, “where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17) How many of you know someone who doesn’t recognize what Jesus has done in their lives? Furthermore, how many of you are sitting on your breakthrough? My challenge for you today is that you won’t be one of the nine.
Don’t be one of the nine who didn’t respond in obedience.
Don’t be one of the nine who didn’t return to the heart of Jesus and recognize Him for working in their life.
Don’t be one of the nine who didn’t raise a joyful praise in thanking God for bending His ear to what we need.
Father, thank you for always hearing your people. You know our struggles, You see our tears, and You hear our cries. You know the desires of our hearts, and for that alone, you deserve praise. So I pray that today You would change the hearts of the nine. Help them to recognize the miracle You have brought into their lives. And help us to continually identify Your power and miracles in our lives.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.