Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. Luke 17:11-19 “Oh Give Thanks unto the Lord, for He is Good”
September 10, 2023 | Christ Lutheran Church
In Nomine Iesu
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Lord God, heavenly Father, who by Your Son Jesus Christ delivered us through Your Word and Holy Baptism from the dread leprosy of sin and are pleased daily to manifest Your gracious help in our every need, we humbly ask You, awaken our hearts by Your Holy Spirit, that we may never be unmindful of Your benefits, but ever live in Your fear and perfect trust in Your mercy and with a joyous heart thank and praise You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, now and forever. Amen. (The Lutheran Liturgy, companion altar book for The Lutheran Hymnal, p. 158)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)
The sermon text for today is taken from the 10th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan….And He said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)
In Christ Jesus, who helps you in your time of need, providing you with blessings on earth and eternity in heaven, who you give all praise, honor and glory, dear fellow redeemed:
Life is full of surprises. There are two kinds of surprises. There are good surprises and there are bad surprises. It is fun to hear the good surprises, that your daughter was accepted into college, that you are getting a new promotion at work, or maybe some close friends told you about their engagement. These are the surprises that we want to hear because they make us feel all good inside. Then life throws a curveball at you. A close relative has passed away unexpectedly. Another one has been diagnosed with cancer. These surprises hit us and stop us in our tracks. We might catch ourselves saying “What else can possibly go wrong.” In those moments, I doubt that we are thinking about praising God. In our text, the lepers stood at a distance. Their outcome was not looking good. They did the only thing they could, they pleaded for Jesus to show them mercy. A mercy only the Son of God can give. Today we will hear how that same mercy comes to us as well. It is in Christ that we can pray at all times, “Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, His mercy endures forever.”
We are toward the end in Luke’s Gospel with our reading. “On the way to Jerusalem [Jesus] was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.” Jesus is on His last trip into the great city of Jerusalem. As Jesus is on this road between these two territories, He comes across a group of men. These men are sick with leprosy. Leprosy is an infectious disease that causes pain in the joints, blisters on the skin as well as loss of color, rashes, ulcers, or redness. It can also cause nerve injury or weight loss. According to Jewish customs and law, if someone was found with this infectious disease, then they were unclean and they had to leave the community. They couldn’t touch anyone or anything or risk contamination. These men understand what they have so they do not want to infect Jesus. They stay away and shout to Him what they desire. They must have heard who Jesus was and the message He had. They appealed to what they had heard and at this moment, what they believe Jesus can do. They cry out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”
The cries ring out in unison from the ten men. They believe that they have come to the right person. As they ask Jesus to restore their health, Jesus gives them a command. “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” He doesn’t tell them that there is something that they need to do beforehand. He also doesn’t tell them that they are healed right now. He tells them to go and do what the Jewish law says. If a man believes that the leprosy has left him, he is to go and show himself to the priest. After an inspection from the priest, if he determines that he is cured, the man who was once leprous will offer sacrifices to God and will be able to come back into the community. Did these men do anything that caused them to get sick? The text does not say, but it does show how these men were in need of help. They went to the only One who could show them mercy.
It can be hard to read this text and wonder if Jesus still shows us mercy in this present day. These ten lepers were able to see Him from a distance. They had heard the stories of what He was doing and just like that they are in the right place at the right time and they call on Jesus to have mercy on them. When those bad surprises come into our lives, we can get mad at God or we fall into despair. We can pray to God, to take our problems away, but it almost seems like we are praying to a brick wall. We don’t know the thoughts of the ten lepers as Jesus tells them to go to the priest. Jesus many times heals people right on the spot, and He didn’t with the ten lepers. They had to put all of their faith in Him. Jesus is not here in the flesh and we also have to put all of our faith in Him and that can be hard.
This is hard because there are times that we know we aren’t going to like the answer He gives. Sometimes the problems in our lives are brought on by us. This happens because we don’t heed what St. Paul says in our Epistle lesson. “But I say walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:16-17) That is usually how we go about life. There are things that we shouldn’t do, but we “like to do them.” As often as we try to turn on God and say the problems that we have are all His fault, Paul reminds us that “the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21) Our sins cover our flesh, and like the lepers who had an actual skin disease, we can only do what they did and put our faith in the One who has mercy and can cleanse us.
Jesus cleanses the ten lepers, even if it wasn’t when they thought it was going to happen. The ten lepers follow Jesus command, even though they are heading to the priests as if they are cured. They put their faith in Christ, “and as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks.” One of the ten realized what had happened. He had to go back! Jesus had cured him! He gives thanks to God because God has taken away his leprosy. As our text says this was not just any man. “Now he was a Samaritan.” The man would have had no reason to go to the temple as Samaritans did not worship in Jerusalem. He sees who deserves all of the glory.
All glory, praise, and honor is due to Christ. As the lepers were headed to the temple and would have given sacrifices to God, Jesus is also headed to Jerusalem. He is headed there to offer himself as the perfect atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. Here is the mercy of Christ. He not only has mercy to heal the lepers of their leprosy, but He also takes away their sins. The Samaritan comes and worships Jesus, realizing who He is. That He is the promised Messiah. There is no need to go to Jerusalem as the grace of God is on full display right in front of him.
The grace of God is on full display in front of you too. You have not been abandoned, even when it looks like you are alone. Whether it is something that is physically wrong with your body or you see your sins in the list of St. Paul, Jesus has mercy on you. He carried on, staying on the path to Jerusalem. When you think you have it bad, Jesus went on to die for you. If Jesus did not have mercy to die for you, then your end would be a death and suffering that lasts forever. Jesus cleanses the lepers and as the Samaritan comes back, you hear how Jesus has mercy on you. And He said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
As you rise you can say, “Oh give thanks unto the Lord for He is good!” God reveals Himself to you in those little surprises. In the smallest of things that can be overlooked, you have been blessed. The world has a hard time thinking that God is good, let alone do they want to sing His praises. They see those bad surprises and wonder how God can possibly be in that. It can also be easy to be carried away by the blessings of God and lose sight of what really matters. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Jesus had mercy on the other nine. They were cleansed. This is what the world is missing. They don’t see that God also has mercy on those who are unworthy of it.
This mercy of God can be rejected by man. Many times it is rejected when bad surprises happen. Do you lose hope? Your hope is found in the One who died for your sins. Your hope is found in realizing that Jesus is preparing a place for you. There may be trials in your life that you might have to endure while you are here. This does not mean that you lose hope. You find your strength in knowing that your future is restored. You are not covered by that leprous sin. You find comfort in the font, where your baptism marks you with the sign of the cross cleansing you. And when those bad surprises bring you low, you can rejoice and give thanks to the Lord as you look back at the font once more knowing that you are clean and not abandoned in the eyes of God because of your Savior, Jesus Christ.
For us to be clean before God means that we have done nothing to deserve it. We can’t cleanse ourselves of the sins that
we commit every day. We can rejoice and be glad because of the mercy that God has on us. We are unworthy and yet God gives us a good surprise, a miracle. The time had come for Him to send His Son. Jesus has mercy on the lepers. He cleanses them and He stays on the road traveling toward the cleansing of our souls. Bad surprises can knock the wind out of us. Yet God does take care of us with His mercy so that we may live forever. He blesses us with the small things, and promises us our heavenly home. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1). Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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