23 November 2005 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
St. Luke 17:11-19
The Lord’s on His way to do a Jerusalem. That’s big. Huge. He’ll do a Good Friday there. His dying on the Cross for the salvation of the world. Only He can do that.
On the way He runs across some lepers. Ten of them. Lepers have leprosy. A disease in which the flesh rots off. Fingers, hands, arms. Toes, feet, shins, knees. Eyelids, eyeballs, nose, lips, cheeks, teeth. The body just decomposes while you watch. Decays before your very eyes.
Talk about Dead Men Walking! Talk about Night of the Living Dead! They yell. "Hey Jesus! Master. Have mercy on us! Help us please!" "Psst. Jesus. Over here. If you want our advice, it’s best to stay away from deadbeats like these. They’re of no use to You. They’re a bunch of out and out losers. We know their kind. A thankless bunch really. You’re nothing but a vending machine to them. Once they get what they want from you, they’ll dump you. Drop you. You’ll never see them again. And, by the way, did you notice that they’re as good as dead anyway?"
Jesus doesn’t pay any attention to our advice. He’s the Savior. Of everyone. Especially the good as dead. His cup of tea is raising the dead. And so Jesus says: "Go show yourselves to the priests." You only did that after you were healed. When the flesh quit rotting and was restored. Jesus speaks to them as healed already. And in Him they are. He came for them. To die for them. To shed His blood for their cleansing. For them to be a new creation in Him.
All ten take off. And lo and behold, as they go, they are healed. Leprosy gone. What a Savior! One, a Samaritan, returns. Praises God Savior Jesus. Falls on his face before God Savior Jesus’ feet. Gives thanks. The other nine? "Where are they?" Jesus asks. "Who knows. But one thing’s for sure. They’ve got no use for you anymore Jesus. Got what they wanted and then they pull a ‘Hasta Lavista Baby!’" "Well, Jesus. Hate to say it but WE TOLD YOU SO. We warned you. But you wouldn’t listen."
Jesus just ignores us again. His attention is on the Samaritan who’s before Him. "Arise." In the Greek that’s the resurrection verb. "Arise. Your faith has saved you." What Jesus does for the Samaritan, He does for us. We, who are dead in our sins, have been died for in Jesus. He didn’t say: "I’ll do my Jerusalem dying only for those who are alive and who will give thanks." No. He dies for all. For you. Dead in your sins sinners. Scripture says: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). And you’re baptized into Christ’s death. And there’s more. Resurrection. You’re alive in Christ. Scripture teaches that God, "made you alive together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:1, 5).
Scripture also tells us how we are to think about ourselves: "Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:11). What a Savior. What a salvation.
What’s there left to do? Well, there’s the continual repentance and faith. In this life we never move beyond that. And there’s the: "Lift up your hearts." "We lift them to the Lord." "Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God." "It is good and right so to do." "It is truly good, right, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to you, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord . . ."
You’ll be doing that by being given to in the Eucharist. Loads of thanksgiving by receiving even more from the Lord. "What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving and will call on the name of the Lord. I will take the cup of salvation and will call on the name of the Lord" (Lutheran Worship, 188).
Have a happy Thanksgiving.
Happy faithful eating and drinking too . . . this Sunday at the Eucharist.