Sermon Text: Luke 17:11-19
Sermon Day: Oct 13, Proper 23, 21st Sunday after Pentecost
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our sermon text is taken from St. Luke’s gospel account the 17th chapter.
Beloved in the Lord, St Luke reminds us for the third time since the transfiguration that Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem. Our peace offering is making His way to the city of peace so that you and I may be delivered from that which steals our peace; namely sin, death and devil. Along the way Jesus stops to teach. He stops to gather others into His fold. He stops to save His dear people.
This morning we find Jesus in a certain village. Which village? We are not sure but it is a certain, specific, definite village of our Lord’s choosing. It is un-named because the Holy Spirit yearns for us to see in this village Jesus at work inour village. Just as He stops to save sinners there in that certain village, so also does He stop to meet us poor sinners here in our hometown. Just as He imparts His word of love there so also does He manifest it here. Just as He is moved with compassion to heal and to forgive ten lepers, so also does He delight in forgiving you.
Jesus stops in a certain village that His Word may bring salvation. The Word brings Jesus near to you.
A. Standing afar off (in sin)
Standing far off in the distance are 10 leprous men. They are far off in the distance because Mosaic law forbids all lepers from drawing near those who are well. They are ten, for they represent all humanity. They are leprous for in them we see the truth of ourselves. Though not leprous in the flesh, we must confess that we are leprous in the heart. These ten are a picture of all sinners, all people, you and I included.
As our mirror these ten reveal the condition of our heart and consequence of our sins. For is it not our sins which isolate us from our neighbors and cause us to stand afar off from God? Are we not all infected with this spiritual disease even as we live our days knowing that some day this flesh will break down once and for all, knowing that there is a God, but our conscience too often compels us to stay away from Him, knowing that though we try, we cannot rid ourselves of this mortal flesh? Yes dear children in these ten lepers we find a very detailed picture of ourselves, of our heart, of our relationship with God and our neighbor so long as we remain in our sin and far off from Jesus.
B. “Master Have mercy on us!”
But wait, these ten lepers standing afar off do not despair, and neither should you. For Christ is passing by your village. The one of whom Moses and the prophets speak He journeys toward the city of peace and He passes through your village. “Master have mercy on us!” they cry. Kyrie Elesion! Such a cry pours one’s heart into the ears of this Nazarene and compels Him to stop along the way. For in truth their cry is not for healing, but for mercy, not for a miracle, but for love, not for cleansing of the flesh, but for the salvation of God to come to them this day!
Yes, beloved, the Savior of the world passes by and your heart’s canticle is not met with plugged ears but with loving gospel. And so we fallen creatures, we poor leprous souls, cry unto God, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.” We confess from a distance that we cannot save ourselves and we plead before the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that He and He alone stop His journey, bend His ears low to our voice, cast His eyes down upon our condition and save us. Yes! “Save us now,” we cry. “Kyrie Elesion,” Lord have mercy! “Hosanna to the Son of David”. Save us now O Lamb of God, for we cannot save ourselves!”
C. When He saw them – Jesus filled with Compassion is moved to heal
And how does our Lord respond to such heart-felt hymns. Our gospel says, “And seeing them He said . . .” Jesus sees them even though they are far off, even though they are unclean, even though they are leprous in body and soul. He sees them and He sees you. His heart is moved with compassion. “As a father pities His children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:13). “And His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him and His righteousness to children’s children” (Psalm 103:17).
Are your ears fixed on the Savior’s great love towards you this day? Does your heart believe that He not only stops to listen to you, but He turns to see you; to see you in your condition? Seeing you His holiness is moved toward you, not away from you. Let your heart be taken captive by this Jewish Rabbi. Let your soul be united to Him! He wills to be tender and merciful to you and to all.
Listen with a faithful heart! For the one who is clean, wholly righteous and perfect crosses over into the land of the unclean, into that certain village we call our own, and His eyes are fixed upon you. He sees! He loves! He is moved to reach out and save you and me and all people through a spoken Word. And though this Word be folly and scandalous, it is the power of God unto Salvation!
“Go to the priest and show yourselves,” He says to the ten. In other words, “Go as a witness to the priests that the Messianic age has arrived. Go and make the necessary sacrifices. Go and witness yourselves the sacrifice which points tomy sacrifice. Go and behold the shedding of the blood. Go and behold the burning of the flesh. Go and behold the death required for your cleansing and behold in that sacrifice My sacrifice that is soon to come in Jerusalem.” For even as I see you and am moved to the cross for you, I desire that you see me with the eyes of faith! Therefore, lend your ears to my voice. Lift up your hearts to behold my passion and believe that I am the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, who takes away your sins!”
B’. Returned with a Loud Voice glorifying God
In faith, these ten believed the Lord and went their way. As they journeyed they were cleansed. The promise was true! The healing was plain for all to see! One of them, seeing that he was healed, returned glorifying God. Yes, beloved, He returned to Jesus. He did not make it to the temple for he now realized that God’s presence was not located in a temple made of stone and brick, but now tabernacled among us in flesh! God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to Himself! God was back in that certain village! So to that certain village He goes because in that place is the God of His salvation.
And with loud voices we who have been healed of sin, who believe that the promise of forgiveness resides only in the Words of Jesus of Nazareth, we too return with a loud voice glorifying God and singing “Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth.” This great Gloria in Excelsis flows from the lips of faith as the heart of believers cannot contain their inexpressible love and joy. Yes we sing! Yes we glory in Christ! Yes, our hearts burn within us as the flame of faith is kindled by the Word of God and His Holy Spirit. We sing Kyrie Eleison and He stops along the way. We behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World and we are cleansed. We eat and we drink and we give witness to the Lord’s death until He comes again. And we bless the Lord by saying, “Thanks be to God!”
A’. Kneeling prostrate before Christ’s feet (in Worship)
Like this Samaritan we are no longer far from God and our neighbor. The gospel of Jesus changes all of that. Now, according to His Word of forgiveness we are able to approach the throne of God in Faith. Hearts bow low to clasp if only the hem of His Robe. “By the blood of Jesus we have been brought near. For He, Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:13).
This then is the purpose of the incarnation; that God in Christ literally comes near to a people with leprous hearts; people like us He hears your pleas for mercy. He witnesses your afflictions. He speaks. He touches. He heals and He saves. Yes, God in Christ is for you and for all who are afar off, for as many as call on the name of the Lord, both you and your children. He is for you so that you not remain far off, but rather be drawn near to Him.
Beloved in the Lord, through the preaching of His Word Jesus has come near to you this morning. He is near you to save you. He is near you to love you today, tomorrow, forever. Follow the lead of this Samaritan and cast your face before His pierced feet. Bend your knees! Worship and adore the redeemer of poor, leprous souls like us. Let your hearts be filled with gladness as you return to Him loud and unending praises. And hear Him speak another word. Arise, journey! Your Faith has saved you.” God grant that each of us hear these words with the faith of this Samaritan and indeed journey all our days in Christ! AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!