Trinity 14 2018
September 2, 2018
Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID
Last week’s Gospel reading we heard of the Good Samaritan while this Sunday shows us the thankful Samaritan.
St. Luke tells us that this miracle takes place when the Lord is travelling to Jerusalem. This is the last journey to Jerusalem that Jesus would make; it was to offer Himself as the Lamb for the slaughter and the sacrifice. On this journey, Luke tell us that He was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. This was not the direct route, nor the shortest by any means. He was meandering His way along, with a desire to help and heal all who were oppressed by sin, death, and the devil. As He entered a village, He was met by lepers. According to God’s command, lepers were to avoid other people, cover their upper lip, wear torn clothing and cry out “unclean, unclean” (Leviticus 13:45-46). Because of their sickness, they cry out to Jesus, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Since they approach Him prayerfully, He comes to their aid.
These lepers give us a picture of all humanity, which has been infected with the leprosy of sin. It is a disease that spreads, wreaking havoc in its wake. It cannot be healed by human means, but if someone is to be healed their flesh must be renewed, just as if he is to be delivered from sin, he must be renewed by the Holy Spirit. The knowledge our sin and our need is the first step in knowing our Savior. We must recognize that we are totally unworthy of Christ’s help and are distant and far separated from God. And cry to Him for mercy, in the faith and certainty that He hears and He answers.
God’s mercy is for the unworthy. Jesus isn’t about breaking down social barriers, or about welcoming the outcast, or challenging societal views on the needy or gender roles or sexual orientation. Jesus isn’t about migrants and refugees and border control. Jesus is the about the forgiveness of sins, about dying upon the cross to restore the brokenness of the world. Jesus is about taking the disease of sin upon Himself so that those who believe in Him might rise and go their way being made well again, saved, healed, whole. True health, true faith, true life.
Jesus speaks to the lepers and they are healed. It is simply by His Word that He brings this healing, this restoration. The Lord communicates the forgiveness of our sins in this way, by His Word. It is the Word, combined with the water, that makes the baptism. It is the Word, added to the bread and wine, that makes it the Holy Eucharist. It is the Word spoken by God’s people to forgive and retain sins.
After all this, it is sad that only one of the ten returns to Jesus to give Him thanks. This is same Greek word used by Jesus during His last supper as He took the bread and then the wine. Eucharist. This single Samaritan had acquired peace for His soul, while the other had only regained physical health, which would be of little help to them on the day of their death. This Samaritan brought forth the fruit of the Spirit, as St. Paul talks about in the Epistle. The other nine gratified the desires of the flesh. It is a sad reality that one often begins in the spirit but ends in the flesh, who receive the grace of the Lord and yet walk away from Him with little to no thought afterward. How often this happens! Many Israelites were led out of Egypt, yet only a few entered the Promised Land. How many Christians have been started out in a good way, healed of their sickness only to go on their merry way with little to no thought of God or Christ or His Church ever again?
What happens after cleansing is just as important as what happens before. When we have been cleansed, purified, declared righteous for the sake of Christ, gratitude sends us back to Him over and over again. The restoration from deadly sin is followed by fellowship with Christ, and those once blessed must return. Arron and Amanda, that means that you too have a responsibility to bring Archer back to Jesus again and again in eucharist, in thanksgiving. David and Debbie, as sponsors, you are to encourage them to do this. And Zion, as their family in Christ, you are to pray with them and for them, help them in their raising their son in the Christian faith, just as you all have that responsibility for one another.
We learn here in our Gospel reading that we are to continuously give thanks to Christ for His acts of mercy and charity. Sunday is a day when we return to the Lord’s presence to thank and praise Him, a day of thanksgiving for the grace of Holy Baptism. Sunday is a commemoration of Easter, the day of resurrection, a day to receive renewal again of our baptismal grace, a day when the Holy Eucharist is received as a continuation and deliverance of that same grace delivered in baptism.
Listen to this prayer, called the Proper Preface, that is said right before Communion, “It is truly good, 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, who, out of love for His fallen creation, humbled Himself by taking on the form of a servant, becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Risen from the dead, He has freed us from eternal death and given us life everlasting…” The Lord has freed us, healed us, from our leprous sin, and so we give thanks by receiving His Eucharist, His sacrifice, His body and blood. We kneel to receive and give thanks, and then at His command we rise.
Jesus commends the faith of the Samaritan who alone gives thanks for his healing. He tells the thankful Samaritan, “Rise and go your way, your faith has made you well.” It is Jesus who sends us on our way, the way of the cross, with His healing, with His blessing, and with His Word.