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Sunday, October 29, 2017

posted Oct 31, 2017, 4:36 PM by Site Administrator

YOUR FAITH HAS MADE YOU WELL

 

Luke 17:11-19

Key Verse 17:19

 

Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

 

            First, "Go, show yourselves to the priests" (11-14). Look at verses 11 through 13. Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They were living in a borderline area between a believing society and a non-believing society. Why? It was because they could not fit in either of the society due to their leprosy. They were kicked out from their society and formed their own society, the society of lepers, consisted of 1 Samaritan leper and 9 Jewish lepers. When they saw Jesus, they called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us."

 

            Like these 10 lepers, there are many people who do not fit in the society. Why? Because of their weird characters and bizarre lifestyles, they do not neither fit in the church nor in the unbelieving people's society. Then, these people form their own society, their own guilds. When we think about Jesus' direction for the 10 lepers, "Go, show yourselves to the priests," we see that in God's eyes, it is not right for people to leave the society and form their own group - the community of lepers; Jesus wants them to return to the society. Then, who can be restored to the society? Those who call out to God for help, saying, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us." Those who rebelliously insist on their own weird perspectives and lifestyles perish in their sins, but those who understand their lost condition, and thereby, cry out to God for help, come to have a chance to be healed and restored. The apostle Peter says, "For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." (1Pe 2:25) It is really by God's grace that we have been brought to this believing society, the church. Now after being restored in God, should we insist our own leper's characters and lifestyles continually? No way! Now we must live as beautiful children of God, imitating God's characters and deeds, being obedient and submissive, saying, "Yes, I will do it."

 

            At this, Jesus said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." According to Leviticus 14, if a man was healed of leprosy, he should bring to the priest two male lambs and a year-old ewe lamb with three-tenths of ephah of fine flour (about 6 quarts, that is 6.5 liters) with oil for a grain offering, and one log of oil. If the former leper is too poor, he should bring one lamb with some flour, oil, and two doves or two pigeons. Then, the priest, after making sure of their healing and performing a certain ceremony, should pronounce him clean, and he will be considered as a valid member of society. When Jesus said to them to go and show themselves to the priests, he meant that they were already healed. When Jesus said so, what happened to them? Were they healed immediately? No! Nothing happened! They still had leprosy; their skin was very terrible. But Jesus wanted them to act based on his promise even when there was no evidence at all. Think about ten lepers who were going to the priests to get a certificate while they were still covered with leprosy - simply, crazy! But that's what Jesus wanted them to do - act by faith in Him even when there was no evidence. Jesus’ direction was a great challenge to the ten lepers. Probably, at this, they were quite at a loss, without knowing what to do or what to say. It was really an embarrassing moment for them. Maybe, at that time, they could have complained saying that Jesus was taking their case too casually, or that he was indifferent to their agony, and given up. But, amazingly, they accepted Jesus' challenge and obeyed his instruction; they turned to the village and marched toward it; and as they went, they were cleansed. 

 

            If you were there, how would you respond when Jesus, or more realistically, a man of God simply told you to go and show yourself to the priests? When we think about this passage carefully, we learn that actually, that's God's way in the Old Testament too - while there was no evidence, God commands people to act based on their faith in Him. When we read Joshua chapter 3, we see a very interesting event. Now, the Israelites finished their forty years’ training in the desert, and came to the border line of Canaan. God gave them an order to march into the land of Canaan through the Jordan River. But the problem was that it was the flood season. The Jordan River was flooding at that time. God commanded the entire Israel army to charge into Canaan through the flooding river, saying that when they did so, the water would stop flowing! It would be easier if God stopped the water first, and then, told them to cross the river; but God didn't do so; instead, he commanded them to act based on his promise by faith. Often, God commands us to march, when there is the flood right in front of us. When our hands are already full, God commands us to charge into the land to pioneer it; when the situation looks really impossible, God commands us to do his work. How do you respond to God’s command? The Israelites, thanks to 40 years’ training in the desert, obeyed – they marched into the flooding river! Then, a miracle happened! As soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing, and the entire nation Israel crossed over opposite Jericho. They experienced a great miracle that was done by the power of God.

 

Abraham was excited when he received God's calling; he left everything behind - his career dream, his friends, and even his family - and he worked hard for God's purpose; yet, no sheep grew very well; he remained childless for years. It seemed he was a real loser; he was depressed. Then, God, visited him, and when Abraham complained about his fruitless life and his hopeless future as God's servant, God took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars, if you can indeed count them. So shall your offspring be." The present reality was still challenging, yet Abraham believed God's promise, and thereby, he became confident about his life, and was excited about his wonderful future as God's servant. Then, about 20 years later, still he remained fruitless. God had not given them any child yet, and Sarah his wife passed the age of childbearing. There was no hope for a child, let alone having many children. Then, God appeared to them and challenged them to act based on His promise by changing their names into Abraham, "the father of many nations" and Sarah, "the mother of many nations." Abraham was a childless senior citizen, but he would introduce himself to others, "Hi, my name is Abraham, father of many nations." Then, Sarah, even after menopause, still without any children, would say, "Hi, my name is Sarah, mother of many nations." When people heard them say like this, they were shocked, and had great pity on them. Maybe, some people had pity on Sarah, hugged her warmly and said to her, "O poor Sarah. I understand. Don't worry." People had pity on them, or ridiculed them, thinking that these childless senior couple had finally gone crazy. This senior couple looked really funny, but in that way, God wanted them to act out their faith in God's promise in their real life. By faith they accepted this challenge, rejoicing at their new names whatsoever others thought about; they talked about many children, dreamed about forming a great nation. And through their faith, God has established a great kingdom and blessed all peoples on earth.

 

God wants us to act by faith in Him. God called us to be fathers of many nations, mothers of many nations; His vision is that we may become powerful spiritual leaders, even worldwide; God wants us to pioneer California through one to one Bible study; God wants us to bring God's salvation to the ends of the earth. But often, our situation is like that childless senior couple - no fruit, barely struggling with a few rebellious sheep; we have a lot of difficulty with our own academic matter or financial matter or even terrible sin problems. But still by faith, we act not based on the reality, but based on our faith in God's promises, God's visions. That's what God wants us to do; that's how God wants us to live our life in this world. So, instead of being overwhelmed and controlled by the present reality, we look up at the heavens and count the stars. We dream about becoming powerful spiritual leaders, serving great salvation work, and even reaching out to the ends of the earth through one to one Bible studies and disciple-making; because we believe in God, we live according to God's vision, looking for sheep, teaching them the word of God and establishing disciples; because we believe, our words, actions have changed, the way we live has changed - no longer worldly or small citizen's life, but the life of God's servants; our hope for future, our value system, our lifestyle and everything has changed according to God's will and purpose. This is how God wants us to live our life - by faith we act based on God's promises and visions even when there is no evidence. And because of our faith, our life, our perspectives, our value systems, and everything are being shaped up according to God's will and purpose. This is the work of faith. As we live this way continually, God intervenes into our lives and fulfills his visions for our life, transforming us into fathers and mothers of many nations. This is how God works in the lives of his people; this is how God reveals his glory in the life of his people.

 

            In this passage, Jesus could have healed them first, and then, told them to go and show themselves to the priests. But he didn’t do that. Instead, when they still had leprosy, when no change happened, he commanded them to go to the priest by faith in him. Romans 4:17 says that God calls things that are not as though they were. While our hands are full, while we are so busy, God commands us to go and pioneer our campuses, because it is the best time to reveal God's glory. While there is the flood in front of you, God commands you, "March!" When you have no sheep, God calls you, "Father of many nations," "Mother of many nations." God says to you, "You are healed" because you are really healed in his eyes. When you are weak, God says to you, "Mighty warrior!" and now God wants you to act as mighty warriors. When we obey His commands by faith against all odds, we come to experience God’s power in our lives. We shout for joy when God's word is fulfilled in our life. This is what the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, testifies. The Righteous will live by faith from first to last.

 

Second, "Your faith has made you well" (15-19). Look at verse 15. Let’s read this verse together:

 

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

 

            This Samaritan returned to Jesus to express his thanks to him. What about the other 9? How come they didn't come back? When they were healed of their leprosy, they were so happy and excited; they could finally see their family again. Maybe, they exclaimed loudly, "I am healed!" "I am clean!" Probably, they hugged each other and shed tears of joy and happiness, saying, "At last!" Then, they knew that they could start a new life. Then, a desire to build their new life in the society came into their hearts. They would enroll in JCC (Jerusalem City College) and pursue their career in Computer information system; they could dream about having a decent career job, no more minimum wage; they dreamed about marrying and having a happy family. Indeed, when they were healed of leprosy, there were so many things they wanted to do; and now the most important thing was to secure them as soon as possible. So, in joy, they said, "Good bye" to each other, and walked away. But the Samaritan, at this moment of joy and happiness, remembered Jesus’ grace – it was Jesus who had healed him; it was Jesus who had given him this new life. To him, the most important thing was to express his thanks to Jesus. So he came back.

 

On the way to Jesus, he was praising God in a loud voice. Think about a man who is singing on the street in a loud voice, or a man in the bus talking to the air, saying in a loud voice, "I praise you, Lord. Your grace is amazing!" How did he look as he praised God in a loud voice while walking on the street? He looked really crazy! But he didn’t care about how others would think of him – he was just happy with God, and thankful to Jesus. Sometimes, he was laughing loudly for joy, sometimes he was crying for joy. He was really a happy man. Then, he threw himself at Jesus' feet, and thanked him. What about some sharp rocks on the ground? He didn't care about whether he would have some pains or not, but he just wanted to thank him. In this way, he was wholehearted and passionate in expressing his thanks to Jesus.

 

When we think about the two expressions here, "praising God in a loud voice," and "he threw himself at Jesus' feet," we see his passion and wholeheartedness in praising and expressing his thanks to God. He was indeed free to love God and thank God. When he was wholehearted in expressing his thanks to God this way, he was indeed a happy person. In our life of faith, we too had such a wonderful time when God's grace was overwhelming in our heart. At that time, we were indeed free to love God and express our thanks to Him. When we came back home after doing God's work until late night, even if we were tired, our heart was full of thanks that we sang and praised God. Remembering God's grace upon us and thanking Him is the key for us to have a wonderful Christian life.

 

Jesus accepted him and blessed him, saying, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well." Actually, it was Jesus who had made him well, but Jesus said to him that his faith had made him well, because it was his faith that enabled him to come back to him and thank him, instead of being carried away by his own desires and dreams. What was his faith? His faith was that Jesus was the most important person in his life; he valued Jesus so highly, more important than anything or anyone in the world; then, coming back to Jesus and expressing his thanks to him became his mission, his purpose and his direction in life. Simply, in his eye, Jesus was everything to him. That was his faith. "Your faith has made you well." How do you consider Jesus? Is Jesus everything to you? It is all up to how you consider Jesus that your life will be decided. Those who value Jesus more than anything in the world come back to him, thank him and pursue him; Jesus becomes the meaning, purpose and direction of life; Jesus becomes the source of happiness and joy - to them, Jesus is everything; thus, God's creation purpose in their life is fulfilled; in that way, they are made well. But those who do not consider Jesus that way do not come to him even after experiencing his salvation; instead, they just want to utilize his grace in achieving what they truly value in the world.

 

When he came back to Jesus and thanked him, he was really made well inside and out. Originally, God made humans to desire for Him - Adam, the first man's desire was for God, and Eve, the woman's desire was for God too; but because of sin, their inner desire changed - man for security or survival and woman for husband. But now when this Samaritan man came back to Jesus and expressed his thanks to him wholeheartedly, he was truly sound as God originally intended him to be, loving his God Jesus, thanking him, rejoicing at him, honoring him so wholeheartedly; indeed, he had been made well inside and out. Then, what about the other nine? Outwardly, they were cleansed of their leprosy; but they did not value Jesus their God so highly; instead, they valued other things, pursuing them, trying to find happiness with those things. They were selfish, self-seeking and self-centered. As long as they valued and pursued other things and tried to find happiness in them, they were not cleansed at all. Outwardly they were cleansed, but inwardly, they were still leprous, doggedly pursuing their own things in the world selfishly. This is the reason why, after experiencing God's salvation, we must live the life of praising God in a loud voice, the life of thanking him; we must live this new life in Jesus for his glory and his praise, not for our own desires and plans. Those who come back to Jesus and live the life of thanking him and praising him have been truly made well inside and out. See how happy this Samaritan man was when he expressed his thanks to Jesus. Instead of being carried away by the desire for this world, we return to Jesus and live to express our thanks to him – there we find true happiness and joy.

 

Look at verses 17 and 18. Let's read these verses together:

 

Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"

 

            The other nine were Jews, believing people. But they took Jesus' grace of healing for granted, and once they were healed, they were only concerned about how to secure their newly found dreams in the world; they just wanted to utilize Jesus' marvelous grace to improve their living condition - with a better job, with a better house and family. Of course, as Jews, they would be attending the synagogue worship service every Saturday. Jesus felt so bad; he was disappointed and hurt. 

 

Improving external conditions does not make us clean. But it is when people return to Jesus by faith to express their thanks that they are truly cleansed. It is when we turn to God out of thanks that we are really cleansed from our terrible disease, called sin. Actually, many people experience Jesus’ grace. But in many cases, people just want to improve their outward condition through God’s help – their physical condition, their future, and their family life. Because of that, they still remain unclean, selfish and worldly; their inner person is still leprous.

 

In the year 2017, God has done so much for us - every week, He has given us his words that sustained and nourished our spirit; He has guided us through the path of righteousness; He has blessed us to come to Him and enjoy fellowship with Him; indeed, He has cleansed us from our sins and blessed us to enjoy this new life in Him. So, it is proper for us to give thanks to Him; it is really proper for us to be happy with Him and love Him. When we truly appreciate what Jesus has done for us, then, expressing our thanks to Jesus becomes a source of our joy; we become happy people, rejoicing at Him and praising Him in a loud voice. And when we thank God for what he has done for us, we are truly made well – we are normal and sound people. Jesus blesses us when we come to him and give thanks to him. 

 

One Word:       Rise And Go; Your Faith Has Made You Well

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