In the last Tool of Thanksgiving post, #7, I wrote with about the famed holiday and how it really relates to things much bigger than our traditional ways of thinking when it comes to Thanksgiving as a holiday. I also wrote on how, like the Pilgrims, we will probably find ourselves one day (if not presently) in the midst of some pretty trying times and how we should respond in those situations. A couple of weeks ago, right before I started this Tool of “Thanksgiving” series, I was speaking with my mother about how the Lord was showing me the importance of thankfulness and the very first thing out of her mouth was about the not-so-thankful-lepers. Actually, she reminded me of the one thankful leper. Besides the Pilgrims, these lepers were some other people that were facing some tough times. Leprosy back in ‘Bible days’ was really a curse of death. Unlike today, where we in civilized countries can get proper vaccinations and healthcare for leprosy, a leprous person was physically doomed and legally and socially banished from their community. It was serious stuff. In fact, leprosy had such a stigma to it, that in the writing of the Bible, the leper and sinner were analogous. Both doomed to death. Alan Gillen wrote an excellent article on the topic of Leprosy and its illustrative value in the Bible, called “Biblical Leprosy: Shedding Light on the Disease that Shuns,” so I won’t try to elaborate but refer you to his article. As a digression, his AiG site speaks of the Creation Museum. It is an awesome opportunity and if anyone were traveling near the Cincinnati, OH/Petersburg, KY area, I’d fully recommend a detour to visit the museum. You won’t be disappointed. I have confession to make. Since I have a slight connection with it, as a couple of my friends have helped build the museum and are presently working on the Ark, I have a soft spot in my heart for their ministry efforts. Nevertheless, I won’t digress further.
The story of the 10 Lepers, as told in Luke 17:11, illustrates a fabulous truth. I’ll try and keep this brief but it is important to understand the some background concerning these lepers. Oftentimes, once banished from their lands and home, lepers would colonize outside of the community and in one sense form their own. So in Luke, we see ten lepers traveling together. It wouldn’t have been strange to see ten lepers together like this. In fact, it would have been stranger to have seen just one all alone. They found solace and safety in numbers. As I understand it, lepers were required to stay roughly 100 yards away from any non-leprous person and if they were to come across a non-leprous person, they were to immediately call out their physical plight as humiliating as it were. To add insult to their ‘injury,’ these ten lepers were already an outcast before they ever came in contact with their leprous curse … they were Samaritans. So when these ten lepers called out to Jesus, came up to Jesus, talked to Jesus, and asked Jesus to heal them … they were breaking every imaginable law and custom you could imagine in their context. And, leave it to Jesus to do the same. He listened to them, talked with them, and gave them value as he elevated them back to personhood status again. He didn’t shun them. He didn’t banish them. He didn’t scold them for seeking him. He respected them and heard their request and honored their request. Jesus didn’t go into some elaborate ceremony for their healing. He simply listened to them and told them to go into town, meet with the Pharisees, and let the Pharisees evaluate their status. And do you know what happened? All ten obeyed … no questions asked. They didn’t look around and say, “but I’m not healed yet,” or “can’t you just heal me now?” They just obeyed. Part way to town, their obedience paid off for them and they were healed of their damningly debilitating disease. What would you have done if you had been cut off from your family, your children, your property, your livelihood, your life and then in a moment someone made it possible to be restored to a former glorious status in life again? Well, according to this account 90% of people will simply look a gift horse in the mouth
and continue in their own direction without even a “Thanks,” let alone a genuine heartfelt sacrificial giving of thankfulness and gratitude. Nine of the ten never responded to a grateful heart, but that one did. That one leper, not only was healed of his doomed state physically, but more importantly, the scripture says that his “faith saved him,” see the footnotes.
This solitary leper was different in the fact that he returned to his Healer and acknowledge his inability to rectify matters on his own terms. Jesus was the leper’s healer. He is my healer. He is your healer too. Isaiah 53 speaks of Christ being the one who took on our sicknesses, our pains, and our infirmities himself so that we wouldn’t have to carry them … so that we could have life abundantly.
I think that oftentimes, we don’t give power to our faith. You see, when we express our appreciation, when we actually put flesh to our grateful thoughts, and voice our appreciation (as the leper did) we are expressing our faith, empowering our faith. When we voice our grumblings, our complaints, our frustrations, we are empowering our doubts. There is something about voicing our faith that saves us. See Romans 10:9-13:
9 That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Do you see the correlation between believing and confessing? Using your mouth gives power to your faith or doubts. Tell me, what have you put a voice to lately … your faith or your doubts? Can you tell me about it?
Until later . . .