Monday, September 18, 2017

Sermon on Luke 17:11-19, for the 14th Sunday after Trinity, "Doctor of Souls"

  • Sermon outline:
  • ·         First glance? Miracle story + reminder to always say “thank-you”? < Scratching surface. Closer look > Dynamics between Jews and Samaritans (who were they?), dynamics between the healthy community and lepers (who were they?) , purity laws and priests verifying cleansing, value of a physical wellness vs. something more received by faith! Different levels of thankfulness/praise. Dynamics between Samaritan and Jesus (who is this man?).
  • ·         Our own semi-recent history with leprosy—Father Damien and the lepers of the Kalaupapa colony on Molokai. Sad and tragic stories—exile who was healed, refused by mother to come home—so great was the fear. 100 years Hansen’s disease sufferers banished there.
  • ·         Biblical times: had to live outside the community and wear torn clothes, cover their face and cry out, “Unclean, Unclean!” to those who would approach them (Lev. 13:45-46)
  • ·         Conversation about learning from our history, even dark chapters—seeing the hope and light that compassion and sacrifice can bring, even in great darkness and suffering. Understanding why fears of a former age were really misguided or unfounded—or when fears were real and contagion and death was real, to respect the sacrificial service of those who committed their lives. Before disease was understood or treatments, quarantine was common. Didn’t have to be as cruel as it often became, but it forces us to ask difficult questions when we face history. We’re quick to judge former ages, but are surely blind to the ways future ages may judge us—forgetting that our human nature is the same in every age. We are not spared from evil if we hide from dark chapters of history—only doomed to repeat them, unless we learn from it (overused, but bears repeating). Learn to transcend fear with courage and compassion, to overcome anger with love, to find better ways to help those who may be in danger, or are real a danger to others, without resorting to cruelty or neglect.
  • ·         Jesus entered history to change things for the better. Not in the simplistic way we might long for—all diseases gone, all suffering gone, all cruelty, fear, hatred, etc gone, but to put an end to the power of sin, give us a new spirit of love and self-control, not of fear. Very opposite of cruelty and neglect. Cared even for these outcasts and unclean. Divine and human presence and response. Ten lepers healed, many blind, lame, deaf, etc. But not every sick or paralyzed person in Israel. Why not? Couldn’t He have?
  • ·         Bigger picture of the gospels—all along, Jesus was on the way to a greater healing. Jesus was on His way to the cross. The bigger story of the New Testament is not the individual healings, but the greater healing this “Doctor of Souls” was preparing to give. The Samaritan experienced this when joy and thanksgiving made him return to Jesus and praise God. Was there no one else? All were healed, but only one remembered to give thanks. “Your faith has healed you” (saved). Double meaning and mention of faith helps us see that more was going on here. How can faith help us?
  • ·         Not like people often say, “you just gotta have faith” like extra optimism, hardening determination, or renewing effort. Rather, faith, used in the Bible, means recognizing our need to depend on or trust in God. Faith, is always trust in something—but trust in what? Not yourself, because faith is dealing with bigger problems than we can handle on our own. Instead, trust the One who is able to save you: Jesus Christ. Being “saved” also doesn’t mean instant rescue from whatever current dilemma—problem with your relationships, finances, health, work, etc—it’s not a magic promise fix-all for your life.
  • ·         But wait! Does that mean Jesus doesn’t care or want to be involved in all those intimate struggles and problem you face? He absolutely does! He encourages us to always pray, and seek Him. Again, that’s where trust or faith comes in—it steers us to Him. But being saved, is especially about the even “bigger problems” we can’t handle—sin, death, devil. Do we have a solution for death? Who will take care of us when we die? No need? Sure about that?
  • ·         Do we have a solution for our sin? Do we know that our sins close heaven’s door to us, if we think that we can rely on our good record to get in? God doesn’t grade on a curve. But Jesus has the solution for that as well.  Jesus has the answer for all those bigger problems, and He’s solved them all by His death on the cross. No premium or payment plan to get this “coverage.” God bears all the cost for redeeming us from sin. Jesus came to give us free salvation. That’s why Jesus is so eager for all ten, not just one, to return and give thanks. God has so much more to give us! If we only received help for earthly problems, would we even look to God for the great eternal questions, or would we write that off, or postpone thinking about it? Or when God blesses us in earthly ways, do we do a 180 and come back to praise Him and thank Him? Christ has more to give, and he wants “all ten” to return—He wants each one of you to sing “praise God from whom all blessings flow”—because there is no greater blessing than for us to know who is the Giver of all good things, and to know and receive His blessings in Christ Jesus. 
  • ·         Worship is a “W” not an “M” –we come here each week, not to assemble to perform our duties to God, as if He needed anything from us—as if we traded our praise to God for something in return,. That would make worship revolve around us. Worship is not a big “M” that’s all about Me. Rather worship turns our eyes up to God. We come each week with hungry hearts and empty hands to receive the blessings that God generously sends to us—messages of forgiveness, God’s companionship in our suffering and crosses, the redemption of our lives to serve God’s purpose and calling, honest reexamination of my life in light of God’s perfect law, a total humbling before God followed by a total rebuilding into a new person in Christ Jesus, which shows all the areas where I’ve been responsible and at fault, but does not condemn for it, but puts that all on the cross and gives us a new life and new spirit to follow Christ. Christians faithfully worship every Sunday for decades, their whole life through, not to fill a scorecard or earn some credits, but because we gather at Jesus’ feet to hear His Word, and at His church to receive the wellness He pours out to us in His gifts. Word & Sacraments, channels for Christ’s mercy into our lives. We come because we have learned that it is good and right for us to cry out “Jesus, Master, have mercy on me!” and that He eagerly responds with forgiveness, life, and mercy.
  • ·         And as often as we gather in faith, worshipping and giving praise to God in a loud voice, we hear His answer “Go, your faith has saved you!” And Jesus sends us out into the world, with a new wellness that we received from Him by faith—refreshed to face life’s challenges anew; refreshed to love each other with the love of Jesus that He plants in our hearts. And His work takes root, not only in our hearts, but also in our eyes, giving us His compassion as we see poor, needy, suffering, outcasts, etc around us, and our eyes are awakened to their needs, so that we might serve God and our neighbor without fear.
  • ·         Americans today invest a tremendous amount of time, energy, recreation, money, medicine, etc, into physical wellness—and often to very good effects and results. But how God longs for us, like Jesus longed for those other 9 healed lepers, to turn back to Jesus for the greater wellness that the Samaritan found. God grant us this spiritual wellness—the wholeness of our salvation in Jesus Christ!  And the great news is that Jesus gives it for free! Knowing who He is; that God is the Great Giver of all things, that we return thanks and praise to Him, and find our life in Jesus Christ. He is our wellness, the wholeness above all else. This wellness is seen in believing in Jesus, being drenched in His mercy, receiving His forgiveness, being a healthy and frequent recipient of the healing medicine of His gifts, in short—having a living relationship to the Doctor of Souls. And Jesus Christ sees that we have received all He’s freely given, and gives us this good diagnosis of health: “Go, your faith has made you well!” Amen.



Sermon Talking Points
Read sermons at:   http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com
Listen at:  http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com

  1. Read Luke 17:11-19. Was the relationship between Jews and Samaritans friendly or not? How did they act toward each other? John 4:9. What did lepers have to do to keep themselves apart from the healthy community? Leviticus 13:45-46.
  2. Imagine being a leper. What would it be like to live under those circumstances? What feelings and hardships would you face?
  3. Why should we not hide from the lessons of history, but learn from them? At the right time Jesus entered human history. Galatians 4:4-7. What did He come to do?
  4. What made the Samaritan different from the others who had been healed? Luke 17:15-19. Who did he acknowledge for his healing? Vs. 19, the phrase “made you well” has a double meaning, of “has saved you.” What greater gift did He receive from Jesus by faith?
  5. Why is faith not trusting in yourself? What (or who?) does faith need to attach to? Mark 11:22; Acts 3:16; 20:21. What does this faith in Jesus receive? Romans 3:26; 4:16; Acts 26:18.
  6. What’s Jesus solution for the “big problems” of sin, death, and the devil? How can we afford this protection and “coverage?”
  7. Explain why worship is a “W” and not an “M”. Why do Christians come to worship every Sunday, year after year? What do we find or receive there?
  8. Our reading pictures physical wellness and spiritual wellness together. What effort do we invest in either or both kinds of wellness? Who is the true Giver of spiritual wellness? When He has given it, and we have received it, what good diagnosis does He speak? Luke 17:19


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