So over the holiday weekend like probably at least half of you, I was away at a relatives house for the holiday weekend. While there enjoying the festivities and giving thanks, I had the opportunity to attend Sunday service. The minister was a young energetic minister that was a big fan of Christmas, he called it the “foundation of his faith” and he couldn’t wait for it to begin. He had his 14.9 days of Christmas music loaded on his iTunes and began decorating Friday. (I remember the day when I had this much energy.)
He chose to open his message on Luke 17:11-19 with a partial video clip from Charlie Brown’s Christmas special. I have always loved Charlie Brown. As I watched the characters run through their parts, I was amazed how much Christianity he was able to work into his cartoons (it was a different time then). As much as I love the cartoon, I began to wondered where he was going with this message and how it related to Luke 17. The short answer is being grateful, thankful and positive, not cynical. He was dead on, we have become very cynical as a society. I struggle to think of any non-cynical humor I’ve seen or heard recently. He described how it seemed all the tweets and Facebook posts he had seen after Black Friday were complaining and very negative. They certainly did not reflect how we should feel about the season. He explained how as Christians, we needed to reverse this trend in ourselves and work hard to complain less and share our blessings more. He laid down a challenge to all of us to try just once or twice this week to send out a tweet or make a post that was positive, thankful, and grateful.
This is a positive message and definitely needed in our world but is it the point of the scripture referenced. Something just didn’t sit well with me as we loaded up to head back to the house. It wasn’t that it was a bad message. It left you feeling warm and positive. It just felt half full, there was something missing. Lets take a deeper look.
Now Luke 17:11-19 is the story of the healing of ten lepers. It is the middle part of the three sections of Luke 17.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Ten Lepers Cleansed
11 While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing [a]between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 13 and they raised 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 were going, they were cleansed. 15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? 18 [b]Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith [c]has made you well.”
So 10 got healed but only one turned back. The minister explained this as lack of gratitude with the others. Only one was thankful and thoughtful enough to turn back and thank the Lord through praise and worship. It is true that thankfulness was part of the display shown but I think stopping their misses the point Jesus was trying to make with this parable.
Jesus singled out the one who turned back to praise and glorify God with a loud voice. Was he the only one healed? No, as far as we know all ten were healed. But Jesus says in the last verse, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” The literal translation of those last four words is “has saved you.” So what Jesus really said was “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
Wow, that is a little more than just being grateful, the one that turned back and glorified God with a loud voice was healed (physically) AND saved (spiritually). And how was he saved? Through faith in Jesus Christ. AMEN!
This passage is not only about simple gratitude, it is about being saved through faith.
The verses before and after match this message of salvation as well. The verses before it (Luke 17:1-10) talk about having the faith of a mustard seed. And the verses after this healing, (Luke 17:20-37) foretells of the second coming and lays out Luke’s version of the days of Noah and days of Lot.
It is amazing how shallow we have become in our messages as a Church. This is one of the major signs of the time that Paul warned Timothy of.
2 Timothy 4:3-5
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
It is not just the ministers fault. We are equally guilty of desiring a shallow, lukewarm, feel good message. The truth can sting and cause discomfort as we wrestle with its meaning and application in our lives. Our society is asleep and wants to remain asleep but they will be awakened at some point, it is inevitable.
The question is: will they be like the man that turned back and glorified God and was saved through his faith in Jesus Christ? or will they be like the nine that heard the message and were even healed but remained asleep until judgement is upon them and it is too late?
The truth of Luke 17:11-19 is a major call to action to awaken those that are asleep so that they may hear the message and make a choice. That is a lot bigger call to action than to make a few positive tweets next week displaying gratitude and thankfulness.
Christ spoke of a church in Revelations (3:14-22), do we really want to be part of the Church of the Laodiceans?
New King James Version (NKJV)
The Lukewarm Church
14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans[a] write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[b] I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”
Interesting Side note: Did you catch the difference in verse 14 in the NKJV translation? It is not Christ’s “church in Laodicea”. It is “the church of the Laodiceans”. He is outside knocking and not part of their church. All other churches are called out by their location.
Maranatha Lord, come quickly!
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In Romans 10 Paul lays out how salvation is open to the Gentile. He writes:
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” – Romans 10:4-5
What he is saying is now it is not about works or how closely to a “T” you follow the law. But that it is through God’s gift of grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. It is really that simple, and yet a hard step for some of us.
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9
Christ is the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14), through faith in Him you will be saved. It is the only “works” that God requires for eternal salvation.