in our Bibles to Luke chapter 18. As I say every week, if you are in need of a Bible, if you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service and we can help get a Bible into your hands.
You know the rules of real estate, famously stated as Location, Location, Location. And the Bible, reading it and understanding it has its own set of rules. Context! Context! Context!
And some of the context of this morning’s passage is quite important. Jesus has been teaching about eternity and the coming and present Kingdom of God. WE also remember the definition we introduced last week of what the Kingdom of God is, God’s people, in God’s place under God’s rule.
And due to those teachings, Jesus was asked first by the Pharisees, then by the disciples, When? Where? WE want to see the Kingdom!
Jesus’ response to them is don’t worry about the when. You know it will happen. Be prepared for it to happen. Prepare others for it to happen. Don’t worry if you don’t see it happen yet. It is coming.
And that brings us into this week’s passage. Luke chapter 18, verses 1 through 8. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. I greatly encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 18:1-8.
The Holy Spirit inspired Luke to record the words of Jesus:
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think,5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word.
Now, what’s interesting about this passage, about this parable is that Luke tells us right up front what the point of the parable is. Often, we don’t get the point, or the explanation until afterwards, if at all. And we remember that parables have one main point. And the main point of this parable is to pray always and never lose heart.
Now, I ask that we remember some of the basic rules of biblical understanding, of biblical study. First, not in any order, the text can only mean one thing. As RC Sproul says, there may be 10,000 applications of that one meaning, but there can only be one meaning. Second, Context! Context! Context! And third, the text can never mean what the original author never meant.
So whatever else we do with this passage, it only has one meaning: Always Pray and Never Lose Heart.
And the context is that this parable comes right after telling the Pharisees and His disciples that the Kingdom is coming, not to worry about when and to keep looking and be prepared.
So, Jesus tells the parable. There was a judge. He was not God fearing so you couldn’t appeal to his sense of right and wrong. He was not man fearing, meaning that you could not appeal to his heart, his compassion, his love for people. He only cared about himself and his power and his position, his authority.
And along comes this widow, who represents in this parable, the poor, the needy and the oppressed. Those having injustice done to them. This widow is looking, seeking for justice, for wrongs to be righted.
And the judge wouldn’t help her. HE didn’t care one bit. But she kept coming, kept asking, kept persisting. This was her only weapon against injustice. She kept crying out to him, “Give me justice against my adversary!”
Now, for a while he did resist. She saw no advancement for her cause. She saw no justice. This judge didn’t care about her plight, he causes or about justice at all.
However, she was an annoyance. She was bothering him. And so, to get some peace for himself, to get her to stop bothering him, he finally gave in and gave the widow her justice.
Now, one thing to point out. Not all who give justice, not all who stand up to injustice, or make a decision that’s on the right side is on Gods side. Not all who agree with God’s people on moral or ethical grounds are actually on Gods side.
But in the end, this widow succeeded. She wore him down. She broke him. She got on his nerves enough for him to throw in the towel. Justice has prevailed.
Now, to be clear, God is not this judge. When he is telling us to be persistent and always pray, He is not saying that we will wear God down. He is not saying that we will break him down. He is not saying that we will get on his nerves enough until he finally relents and grants justice.
Instead, Verses 7 & 8 speak of God. He will hear his people.
He will grant justice.
He will dry every tear.
He will right every wrong.
He will Heal every pain.
He will answer those prayers, not all prayers, but those prayers that we hold deep in our hearts. The prayers for justice to be done. The prayers for His return. The prayers the Kingdom to manifest. The LORD, come quickly prayers.
James 5:16, The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
However, its Gods justice. Which means that it is God’s timing. Which means that it is from God’s perspective. Which means its all up to him.
And so, Be persistent. Always pray. Never lose heart. Stay Faithful.
You have been told it will happen. Trust that. Have faith in that. Believe that.
And work towards that. Jesus is not telling us that we are to sit back, kick our feet up and wait for Jesus to come back for Justice to be granted. WE are to be active in pursuing it like the widow was.
If you see injustice take place, if you see someone being oppressed or held down, if you see wrongs taking place, if you see abuse taking place, it is your responsibility, as an ambassador of Christ, as a child of God and as a decent human being to stand up and fight for those who aren’t able to fight for themselves. It is your responsibility you stand up for being people treated as the image bearers of Christ that they are. We are not to only stand up for injustice done to other Christians, but injustice anywhere and everywhere.
Whether or not we see success in this life and in this world does not change that ultimate and perfect justice will be granted and achieved in God’s timing.
IF you are a victim of injustice, abuse, wrongdoings, please do not hear this as a reason to give up. This parable shows that we are to continue to fight and pursue justice and that God will ultimately grant it and that it will be greater and eternal justice when he does.
And Jesus finishes up and he asks, when the Son of Man returns, will he find faith?
God is not the one who will be answering questions when we stand before him. We all think about different questions that God better answer when we get to heaven. Bu the truth is that he owes none of us an answer.
We will be answering the questions. And really there is only one question that will matter. Will he find faith? Will he find faith in you like in Noah? Will he find faith in you like in Lot? Will he find faith in you like this widow?
Or will he find you outside the faith? Outside the faith like Lots wife? Outside the faith like the judge here? Outside the faith like so many that the LORD will tells us he never knew?
All right, lets go ahead and grab our Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 17. As always, if you do not have a Bible, or if you need a Bible, please come see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.
Jesus, as he has been teaching over the course of the last number of chapters, has been talking a lot about the future, about salvation, about making sure that our soul is right. He has been talking a lot about our eternal destination.
Now, this got people thinking, which was a part of Jesus intent. We can all here Jim saying, AMEN! And of course, everyone had their own preconceived notions regarding these things. They had their thoughts about how the things that Jesus was talking about would manifest, how it would all play out. They all had their own view on what it would look like.
The kingdom of God, or Kingdom of Heaven, used interchangeably throughout the scriptures, is one of the most mentioned subjects that Jesus talks about. Many commentators and theologians will start with a basic definition of what the Kingdom of God is. Simply put, they say Gods Kingdom is Gods People, in God’s place, under God’s rule.
Let’s pick up from there reading this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 17, verses 20-37. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to read from your preferred translation. The key is to read for yourself what the Word of God says instead of depending on someone else to read it for you.
Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes chapter 17, 20-37:
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed,21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”[h]
22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.[i]25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”[j]37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse[k] is, there the vultures[l] will gather.”
May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.
When we look out at the world and we see tragic events happen, personally, locally, nationally, globally, we cry out. And so often, as Christians, our cry out when we see these things is “LORD, come quickly!”
Because we know that he is going to come back. We know that he is going to make all things right and all things new. We know what John saw and wrote down in Revelation 21:3 & 4:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c]4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
We know that ultimately, the bad things will go away, and God will make this world perfect and sinless, without pain and death and tragedy. But until that time, we are called to live holy and fruitful lives here in Earth, as strangers and aliens, as Ambassadors, as those looking forward to what will be coming, without ignoring what we have and are called to right here and now.
And we all have our ideas on what the end will look like and even what it will look like as it gets closer. Many of us have very specific ideas of what will take place and whit it will look like. And the Pharisees did too.
They in particular had a very specific vision of what the Kingdom of God would look like, and more specifically what the promised Messiah would accomplish.
They knew all the prophecies and the promises of God about what the Messiah would do and who he would be. And they did what we all do as well. They looked at those prophecies and scriptures through the lens of their culture, their society and their times.
Because of the Roman occupation of Israel and before that, Greek military might, the Babylonians, the Persians, The Meads, the Assyrians and so forth, they were looking for the Messiah to be a mighty military leader who would lead the Jews out of oppression and occupation and overthrow the ones who were ruling over them and Make Israel Great Again.
The Kingdom in their mind would be an earthly Kingdom, with an earthly messiah sitting on an earthly throne, a literal return to David sitting on the throne of Israel, though with some disagreement on whether it would literally be David or not.
And so, Jesus was talking and teaching about this eternal Kingdom. Right from the very beginning of his ministry. The first words of his ministry that we have recorded in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;[e] repent and believe in the gospel.”
And this kingdom that Jesus was talking about didn’t sound like what they were envisioning. IT didn’t sound like what they were expecting. For once, it seems they weren’t trying to trick Jesus. Like us, they were confused, curious and oh so impatient.
Again, this is like we tend to do today as well. We look at the prophecies of the Bible, we look at the scriptures. We see the words of Jesus and we mostly subconsciously decide that the words must have been said with our specific locality or country in our specific time in mind. In our case, Jesus was speaking directly about The United States in the 20th and 21st Century. And so, we put Russia into prophecies that have nothing to do with them. WE read America into the Bible when there is no mention of it anywhere. We decide that, after 2000 years of people thinking the same thing of their own time, now is the time that Jesus is going to come back.
And I want to be clear. This is something, when we disagree that we can discuss and even challenge each other on. But this is in no way a subject to divide over. These are not viewpoints to get angry about. Most of us, despite us having different views of the end times, can all point to scripture to back up what we think and what we expect.
Now, Jesus is going to show, coming up in a moment that there are some things to disagree and stand firm on. There are things to separate over. But our interpretation of when the end will come and what it will look like is not one of them.
So, the Pharisees are curious, confused and impatient and so they ask Jesus, “Ok, so this kingdom of God you are talking about, when is it going to arrive? We don’t see it…”
They are looking for miraculous and spectacular signs. They are looking for the things that will point the way of the kingdoms coming so that they can be sure that they don’t miss it. They want to observe it. They want to be a part of it.
Jesus says, nope.
Jesus says you are not able to observe the Kingdom coming and he shows a couple of reasons. For one, they won’t see it coming because its already here. Jesus coming the first time brought the kingdom of God with him and it was now there on earth. Second, he says, that he is standing right in front of them, and they don’t recognize him. He is the manifestation of the Kingdom. That doesn’t mean that the kingdom in not a real, literal, physical place as well. But Jesus presence is what shows us the kingdom. The pharisees especially were looking, desperately seeking this kingdom, and it was right in front of them the entire time.
With Jesus and his arrival, the Kingdom has arrived on Earth. It has started its infiltration. At the birth of Jesus, at the incarnation of God, God became man, the Word became Flesh, and the manifestation of the Kingdom began.
Jesus says that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It is in your midst. It is within you. It is among you. All those depending on your translation. And it is here among us in the person of Jesus Christ. Many will say that this text is saying that the Kingdom is here in our hearts, that Jesus lives in our hearts so that the Kingdom comes from within us. But at best, that’s just a partial answer. Jesus is not just alive in our hearts. If that’s all then as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, we have no hope and we are to be pitied. But Jesus is physically alive as well. And so, the Kingdom is real, and it is here. And it is among us, within us, in the midst of us in two ways. Jesus right here with us, Gad made man. Second, the Kingdom is shown and is made evident by the change in peoples lives who become citizens of the Kingdom.
Paul writes in Romans 14:17, For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Its not an accident that Paul is referring to the fruit of the Spirit that he writes in Galatians 5. When it comes to the Kingdom of God, you are actively living in it, or you are not.
The church is supposed to be a representation of the Kingdom. We as Christians are ambassadors for the Kingdom. And we have a different kingdom than most. The Kingdom of God is both already and not yet.
It is already in how we just looked at it. Its already started its infiltration. It is manifest in the person of Jesus Christ. IT is here and is shown by how we live and the change in our lives. Jesus already taught, back in Luke 13: 18-21 that the Kingdom is like yeast spread through dough, eventually causing the whole loaf to rise. And so, the Kingdom is here, and spreads throughout the whole predestined, elect people of God, through the whole of world history until one day, the whole, full kingdom of Heaven rises, or comes down as it were.
And after Jesus answered the Pharisees, he turned to the disciples. He tells them that there will be a day that they long for the day that Jesus has already come back and that He is with them again. He tells them, your desire to see me and your inability to see me will leave you susceptible to people who will claim that Jesus has already returned.
One study note I read, says that it is good and natural that Christians long for the coming of Christ and for the peace and justice that the Second Coming will bring.
The problem, Jesus says here, is that there are many who will try to take advantage of that desire. Here he is! There He is! People claiming to now, claiming to have seen, claiming to be in some cases, the returning Jesus Christ.
One commentator rightly notes that rumors and speculation will only lead us away from the truth. Jesus affirms this as he tells us, when we see these people, Mark and Avoid them! Do not follow them! They don’t know what they are talking about, and they are being destructively deceptive, whether they realize it or not. They are false teachers and false prophets, and we are to remove ourselves from their influence.
Jesus shows in verse 24 that there will be no secret or subtle return. He says, when I come back, EVERYONE will know. His return will be as bright and unmistakable and as sudden as lightning. All will see. Jesus, when he returns, will come back inaugurating, consummating and fully and finally initiating his Kingdom. It will be dramatic and visible to all, and you won’t have to wonder or worry that you have missed it.
Before that happens… after verse 24, we see verse 25.
Before we worry about Jesus coming back, he is going to have to leave. First, he must suffer and be rejected. As one commentary notes: “The consummation of the kingdom requires the obligation that Jesus must first die according to Gods plan to redeem a people for himself.”
In order to manifest his kingdom, he must first have a people for his Kingdom. The unfortunate part is that people will be rejecting him right up until the point of his return. No matter what the warning signs, no matter what the sins of the day. People will reject salvation through Christ until they have no more opportunity. Just like the days of Noah and Lot.
Now, it would be easy to read this and start talking all about how sinful and depraved the society and culture was in the says of Noah or in Sodom and Gomorrah during Lots time. And that would not be factually incorrect, but it would instead have nothing to do with what Jesus is saying here in this text. Jesus does not mention the righteousness of Noah or Lot, nor does he mention the sinfulness of the people or the culture.
What he points out is that in the Days of Noah and in the Days of Lot, while there was great sin occurring, people were going about their normal everyday business. They weren’t worrying about the coming judgment. They had many warnings, many signs, but despite that, the day that judgment came caught everyone by surprise, including Lot and Noah. Believers will be caught by surprise as well at the coming of the LORD.
Just as the Days of Noah and the days of Lot, we are heavily warned, just as they were. Then out of nowhere, the rains came, and the flood came, and it destroyed them all except those who accepted the LORDS salvation on the Ark. Then, out of nowhere, the rain of sulfur and fire and brimstone came and destroyed all of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah except the few who listened to the angels and left and didn’t look back. Then out of nowhere, the Son of Man will return, sudden and unexpected as a thief in the night, but sudden and visible as a streak of lightening. And all who are not saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ will be brought to judgment and eternal torment.
Just as it was in the days of Noah. Just as it was in the days of Lot. So, it will be when Jesus comes back. There is, was and will be plenty of warning, but it will still come completely out of nowhere. Today, people know that it is coming, and they ither ignore it and suppress it or they know it’s come and don’t care enough to do anything but live and go about their normal, everyday life.
When Jesus comes, judgment will come. Many will be judged and found guilty. But the righteous, (only through Christ, His righteousness) will be redeemed and restored. All will be burned away and reborn.
We will have a New Heaven, New Earth, New Bodies. Their will be one glorious people. All who trust in Christ and only those who trust in Christ. The church. True Israel. The adopted children of God. Co heirs with Christ. One Glorious People of God. One Glorious Kingdom of God. New Jerusalem. And One Glorious King, God Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth. Forever and ever.
And on that day, that glorious day. That singular, public, every eye will see day that the LORD comes back, when he separates the sheep from the goats. When we stand before him in judgment. When we enter, either eternal judgment and wrath, or eternal glory and worship. On that day…
On that day, some will enter his kingdom, and some will not. The Day of the Lord will not create division. Division in where we are going to go already exists. But the day of the LORD will expose that division. It will bring it to light. Many who expect to be with the LORD will not be. Many whom we expect not to be with the LORD will be.
Just as suffering does not create character but reveals character. Just as children do not create patience with in us, but reveals patience or lack thereof, The Day of the LORD will reveal who the true people of God are.
Even if they think they will be together in eternity, husband and wife wont necessarily both be with the LORD. Brother and Sister. Parent and Child. Best Friends. None will be both brought to be with the LORD because of their relationship and expectations.
Jesus tells his disciples that they need to remember Lots wife. JC Ryle has a great book on holiness that I’m reading, and he has an entire chapter on Lots wife and why Jesus tells his followers to remember her. What seems to be his biggest point is that her proximity to Lot and his God, her likely proximity to Abraham and his household faithfully and unashamedly worshipping God, her going along for the ride right next to Lot, none of it meant anything because she never had her heart changed by the Holy Spirit. She never committed herself to the LORD. She never let go of her sins and her old beliefs and way of life. She never trusted in Christ for her salvation. And so, her being married to Lot, was not enough to save her. She, undoubtedly, expected to be right there with him in the eternal kingdom, but she was trusting in the wrong things, not letting go and she turned back desiring her old things.
Of course, this makes the disciples nervous, and they ask, “Where, LORD?” Where will all this take place? Where should we be looking?
Jesus answers, “where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” A few translations have Eagles instead. The point is true regardless. Just as dead bodies invite birds of prey and scavengers, so also will the spiritually dead invite judgment.
There are a lot of things we can read into this text, and we can pull out. A lot of details about the second coming and the return of Jesus that we can use these texts to affirm, may correctly, probably not though.
Heres what we all need to remember, regardless of our similarities or differences in the details.
Jesus had to come the first time and did. Son of God. God himself. He lived a perfect life and fulfilled the law in the way that we couldn’t. He died for us. He resurrected, rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and he will come again.
This must happen in order to redeem his people.
He will return to judge the living and the dead. The redeemed and the condemned.
And he will come back once and for all. Though no one knows when except the father. He will come as a thief in the night, not in secret, but in suddenness and unexpectedness.
He will come back like a flash of lightning. Visible to all. Light chasing darkness. Sudden, unexpected, flashing across the sky.
And that return ill bring with him the full, complete, inaugurated, consummated, eternal, glorious, perfect Kingdom of God. Which brings with it peace, justice, glory, eternal life, worship. The eternal wedding banquet between our King and his bride, the church, made up of all believers of all times. People from all tribes and tongues, but one united, combined one people of God. His redeemed people. His bride.
We are to be absorbed with being ready for the return of Christ. The act of Jesus coming back WILL happen. But don’t get absorbed by the timing.
Life on this earth will end. TO dust we shall return. But the end is already written. One theologian reminds us, “We can enter the Kingdom now and live in it forever more by saying yes to the King.”
Focus on what Christ tells us to focus on. Remember what he tells us to remember. Don’t focus on what he doesn’t tell us to focus on.
All right! Let’s go ahead and grab your Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 17. As always, if you do not have a Bible, or if you have need of a Bible, please see me after the service and we can get one into your hands.
Jesus has been teaching, and addressing his disciples, new believers and followers and the traditional church folk who were opposing him. And the reason they were opposing him is that he was teaching that it is not our actions, our obedience, or our adherence to the law that saves us.
Instead, our salvation is by faith alone. Christianity, true religion as taught by God the Father, God, Jesus the Son and God the Holy Spirit, is not Do and be saved. But instead is You are Saved, Now Do.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 2 that Jesus has prepared beforehand good works that we are to do. But that obedience and service are not pleasing to God just in and of themselves. But they are only pleasing to God if and when they are done in faith.
And now, Jesus continues on his journey. That’s where we will pick up, in Luke 17, verses 11-19. Ill, as usual, be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to grab your Bible, which ever translation it is, and follow along as we read the word of God.
Luke 17:11-19, inspired by the Holy Spirit, written by Luke the Physician:
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,[f] who stood at a distance13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”[g]
May God Bless the reading of his Word.
So, we see that Jesus is once again on the move. He is still and again on the way to Jerusalem. He first set his eye upon Jerusalem as we saw back in Luke 9:51. And on this part of the trip, he was travelling between Samaria and Galilee.
Now, we have talked before about the hatred between the Jews and Samarians. Most would go out of their way and add a significant amount of time to their travel in order to avoid going through Samaria. The fact that Jesus would even travel close to it would have been scandalous.
And outside one of the villages, on this section of travel, Jesus encounters 10 lepers. The lepers were set apart, and not in the way that means Holy. They were removed from the towns and villages, placed outside them, and were not allowed near people. In fact, if they saw people that might come near them, they were to yell out a continual warning, “Unclean! Unclean! Unclean!”
You think a COVID quarantine was bad? It was nothing compared to Biblical leprosy.
So, Jesus comes along this village and these lepers are outside it and they see him and shout out to him. Master! Have mercy on us! They knew, at least in part, who he was. They, despite being removed from everyone, still had heard of this Jesus guy and what he could do.
He had already healed lepers. They knew he could heal, that he could perform miracles. They knew he was able to do things and they cried out for him to have mercy on them.
In verse 14, it says that Jesus saw them. This is a key part to this text. He actually saw them. Not saw that they were there and make sure not to get too close but saw them and who they were. Let’s not blow past this and gloss over this.
I don’t know if there is someone in here who needs to hear this, but a lot of people do. For many, this is the greatest way to show love to them, to see them. These lepers were ignored by the masses, but society. They were not acknowledged. They were not talked to. They were not helped. They were not ministered to. In the eyes and life of the people of the did, these lepers practically did not exist.
There are many groups that fall into this category today; the homeless, widows and orphans, the poor and forgotten, refugees, prisoners, abuse victims, the depressed and suicidal. So many of whom we can see very day of our lives, in pain, lonely, crying out, begging to be heard and be seen. And so many more individuals that don’t fit into these categories either.
We are to love people. We are to love them as Jesus loves them. We are to love them even if nobody else loves them. And Jesus shows us right here how to love them. He sees them. HE hears them. He acknowledges them. They are not just there, but they are people. That’s love that many people do not receive.
Jesus sees them and he responds to there cries. He tells them to go and show themselves to the priests. Why would he tell them that? They asked for mercy, hoped to be healed and he tells them to go to the priests?
The reason they would go to the priests is to show him that they were healed, and he could pronounce them clean. We see back in Leviticus 13 & 14 that God the priests the ability and the authority to confirm that the lepers were cured and to declare them clean. The priest could not heal them, he could only affirm that they were healed.
So, there was no physical reason for these lepers to go and show themselves to the priests. They were not yet healed and so there was nothing for the priests to confirm. They had to take Jesus at his word and had to show some kind of faith, some trust in Jesus in order to go and head over to the priest.
And they did. They started on their way. They showed some faith. They showed obedience. They obeyed the word of God and as they went on their way to the priest, they were healed.
As always with Jesus, this was a miraculous healing. A complete and full healing. An instantaneous healing. An event that would not and could not be missed. Its not like the lepers would not have noticed this instant and complete, all of a sudden lack of leprosy. They were still supposed to the priests so that they could be public and legally declared clean and brought back into the community.
So, we do see that all 10 lepers had to realize that they were just instantly & completely healed. Presumably, 9 of them continued on their journey to the priest. Understandably. They would have been super excited. Once the priest declared them clean, and they went through the very brief 8 day waiting period, they would be able to be reunited with family, friends, and society.
But one of the ten, one of them noticed and stopped his journey. He turned around and went back to praise and give thanks to Jesus.
10 lepers professed Jesus as Master. 10 lepers acted like they had faith. 10 lepers were healed. Now, this text is not intended to be a mathematical equation. This is not here to tell us that 9 out of 10 people are not saved. This is a story that reveals God goodness, Jesus’ goodness, general people’s ungratefulness and that it is often the unexpected who receive and respond to God’s grace.
1 of the 10 had what we call saving faith. 1 out of 10 recognized what Jesus Christ did. 1 out of 10 came back and acknowledged what he did. 1 out of 10 fell down and praised God.
Here is the scandalous part.
IT was a Samaritan.
An outsider. A mixed breed. A non-Jew. Someone who didn’t deserve gods grace and salvation. The last one who anyone would ever expect to praise and worship the true God. The unexpected who received and responded to God’s grace.
And we see this here in the text and we can also see the opposite. Granted, we are reading into the test with this next part. But another part we see here is that if 1 of these ten was a Samaritan, it is very likely that 9 of them were Jewish. They thought that they were entitled. They thought that God owed them healing. They thought that they did something to earn the healing and so there was no need to go back and thank Jesus for what he may or may not have done. Their faith was less in Jesus than it was in themselves, in their heritage, their righteousness.
This Samaritan came back, he allowed his spiritual obligation to override his ceremonial needs. He dropped down and praised God and gave thanks to Jesus. He was essentially acknowledging that Jesus was God. Jesus accepted this and asked, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
Jesus was pointing out the other 9 lepers lack of true faith. Who came back and gave thanks? Who was grateful and appreciative? Only this Samaritan. He came back.
Did none who thought they deserved it?
Did none who thought they earned it?
Did none of them, not one give thanks and praise God?
Only the one who everyone thought would be rejected. Only the one who nobody thought deserved it. Only the one who nobody thought was good enough. Only the one who nobody thought was the right “kind.” Only the foreigner.
Only the one who knew that he couldn’t do it himself. Only the one who knew he couldn’t earn it. Only the one who knew he didn’t deserve it. Only the one who knew it could only be the work of a graceful and merciful God. Only He came back and praise God and gave thanks.
Jesus recognized the faith in the Samaritan, and he told him “Rise and Go, Your faith has made you well.” In the Greek it is literally, “Your faith has brought you salvation.”
Jesus is not talking only about physically healing. He was healed earlier and now he was made well. Jesus hear was referring to the man’s salvation.
What saved this man? His faith in the one who saves. He was not saved by his ethnicity, not his race, not his heritage. He was not saved by his goodness, his righteousness, or his deservedness. He was not saved by his culture, his morals, or his upbringing. He was not saved by his words, as in professing faith, by his church attendance, or his studiousness, his bible knowledge and he was not saved by his religious tradition and background.
He was saved by the grace of God alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone as revealed by the scriptures alone and all to the glory of God alone.
10 were healed, but only one was made well.
We need to remember who we are in this story. WE are all born spiritually dead. We are all spiritually lepers. We are unclean. And that uncleanness shouts loud and clear to the one who is clean and can do something about it. Jesus, Lord have mercy on us!
He is the one who can have mercy on us. He is the one who can make us well. He is the one who can heal our souls. He is the one who can makes us clean. He is the one who fulfill the demands of the law and impart his righteousness onto us. He is the one who can save our souls. And he is the only one.
And our appropriate response when we have been made clean and made well, when we have been saved is to fall at his feet to praise God and thank Jesus for his work. Our appropriate response is praise and worship and most of all gratefulness, thanksgiving.
So, I’m going to leave us with some verses regarding giving thanks to God.
1 Corinthians 15:57: But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 2:14: But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
2 Corinthians 9:15:
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks[d] to the Father, who has qualified you[e] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
All Right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 17. As I say often, if you do not have a Bible or need a Bible, please see me after the service and we can help get one into your hands.
So, in the section of Luke that we have been looking through, Jesus has been talking about the eternal consequences of our earthly decisions. And of course, the key to it all is that we are saved by the grace of God alone. WE are not and cannot be saved or be kept saved or earn any amount of favor in Gods eyes, through our own righteousness. It can only be through and from Christ’s righteousness.
We are called to be good stewards of the gifts that God has given us. Money, gifts, time, talents, even faith. WE are to use what he has given us for his benefit, for his glory and for his profit.
But he is the one who saves, not us. He is the one in control, not us. That does not absolve us of our responsibility to live right, to be good stewards and to strive for holiness, but He is the one who is sovereign and who is on the throne.
So, let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 17, verses 1-10. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. We read, as the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write, Luke 17:1-10:
And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin[a] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.[b]3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
7 “Will any one of you who has a servant[c] plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,[d] and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants;[e] we have only done what was our duty.’”
Thus says the Word of God.
So, Jesus here is back to speaking to his disciples. He had been speaking to the Pharisees and now has turned back to the disciples. If you are Disciples, that means you are followers of Jesus. Disciples want what He wants. They want to do what He wants them to do. They want to please Him.
So, want that means is that they don’t want to sin. They want to be holy. They want to follow the words of Jesus, who said be Holy as I am Holy. Be prefect as your father is perfect.
Disciples recognize how horrible, how crushing, how devastating their sin, is and how it affects both Jesus and ourselves. The wages of sin is death. This is true both spiritually and physically. Physical death was brought into this world because of sin. And we are dead spiritually because of our sin, in fact we are physically born spiritually dead and thus the need to be born again as Jesus tells Nicodemus.
A disciple has a changed heart, a dead heart changed from stone to a living heart of flesh. A Disciple has been reborn, born again, brought from death to life by the Holy Spirit. And because of this, a disciple hates his sin.
The flesh, default human nature loves and craves sin. The unconverted, the unsaved love their sin, desire their sin. And there is some of that that sticks around in the flesh of a believer, in the flesh of the disciple. For more insight into this, Romans 7 is very clear. WE will continue to fight against our sin nature as long as we are alive on this earth.
Romans 8 tells us that we are to put to death the deeds of the flesh, or sin. Because if we don’t, that sin will be the death of us.
And Jesus starts here, and he says that temptations will come. The opportunity to sin will be there. The desire to sin will be there. The inclination to sin will be there. That battle will be a part of this life. You must be aware of these temptations; you must notice them in order to be able to resist them and to fight against them.
And so, Jesus tells us that the temptations will take place in this life. But the fact that these temptations are there and will take place is not an excuse to give in to them. Temptations existing are no excuse to sin.
But Woe to you who the temptations come through. 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 both tell us that causing a fellow brother or sister in Christ to stumble then we are in Sin. Temptations exist but you can’t be the cause of that temptation.
Now, to be clear, you are not responsible for other persons sins. Period. Full Stop. End of Sentence.
But also true is that you are in sin, you are wrong if you are the temptation or if you put the temptation in front of someone. You are in sin if you are a stumbling block to others.
I’m reminded of Romans 1:32, where Paul writes, at the end of a long list of sins, Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Jesus says if you are a stumbling block, if you are the temptation that causes someone to sin, it would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck and drowned. A Millstone was big enough and heavy enough that it was not able to be moved be a person, with the sole exception of Samson, and Oxen were usually used instead. Suffice it to say that if one were around, one’s neck it would not be good.
Jesus’ point is that it would be better to receive the worst punishment in this world than to receive the eternal punishment, like the rich man in Hades we looked at last week, which awaits you if you cause one of Jesus followers to stumble in sin.
When Jesus uses the term Little Ones, we often thing of this where Jesus talks about children being the little ones. But it also applies more generally to all believers and followers of Christ, especially young, immature followers. In the context here, this longer passage of Jesus teaching starts in Luke 15, where sinners and tax collectors were gathering around and trying to follow Jesus.
Jesus says in verse 3 that we are to pay attention to ourselves. We are to worry less about other sins than our own. Yes, we are to rebuke sin when we see it, specifically in our follow brothers and sisters. Matthew 18 lays out some of the clearest principles in that.
But it doesn’t end there. If a fellow Christians repents, we are to forgive them. The two statements here are connected. Galatians 6:1 & 2, Paul writes: Brothers,[a] if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
One commentator writes, “The duty to rebuke is attached to the responsibility to forgive.” The reason we rebuke sin, the reasons we confront it is to bring about forgiveness and repentance.
And Jesus doesn’t just say to forgive, but if one comes to and says, I repent, you forgive over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. He says that if one comes to us 7 times in one day, we are to forgive them each time. & of course, being a symbolic number representing heavenly perfection, representing God himself.
In 1 Corinthians 13, when Paul writes about what Love is, says that Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Now, one of my first questions is why would we have to forgive someone so many times? And IM sure many of you had the same question.
Think about you and God. Think what happens if and when the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin. 1 John tells us that if we confess our sins then God is faithful to forgive them.
As a Christian, if and when you sin, God will forgive you as many times as you repent and go back to him. IF you are a Christian, a disciple, you will repent every time you give in to the temptation of sin. That’s why Martin Luther said that a Christians life is one of repentance. We will be continually repenting through out this life. So, we will repent. And God has already forgiven us.
When Jesus died on the cross, his blood, his death bought the forgiveness of all sins, past, present and future of all who will believe by faith in Jesus Christ our LORD.
We are to follow that principle in all that we do. Our innate desire, our natural tendency is to repay evil for evil, to do to others what they do to us. We want to change the Golden rule from Do unto others as you would have them do unto to, and make it instead Do unto others before they do unto you. Some of the hardest words to believe in the Bible is, Vengeance is Mine says the LORD.
A couple of things I want to say about forgiveness. First, we need to remember to forgive ourselves. Think of it this way. If we are sorry and we are repentant, but we don’t forgive ourselves, we are putting ourselves above God. We are putting our opinion above Gods. We are saying that his forgiveness isn’t enough. His forgiveness is secondary to out own.
Second, a few things about what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not Forgive and Forget. Forgiveness is not no consequences from your actions. Forgiveness is not letting them continue to hurt you. Forgiveness is not letting someone back into the very same spot in your life as before, not automatically at least. That’s reconciliation, which takes two. Forgiveness just takes one.
Now, the disciples heard what Jesus was saying and they cried out, “LORD, increase our faith!” This is right in line with Mark chapter 9, where the dad says, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”
Things that we should all be praying and crying out each and every day.
All those things that Jesus has been telling them, all the things he just said; resist temptation, repent, forgive, forgive over and over. None of those things are things we can do without faith. None of those are things we can do without the Holy Spirit. None of those are things we can do without the strength of God.
Remember we are to pay attention to ourselves. And faith is not of our own doing, but our faith is a gift from and of God. We need faith in order to do the things God has told us to do.
And Jesus talks about faith. And when he speaks this way about faith, it is often misunderstood. First, it is not the size of our faith that matters, but the fact that we have any faith. One commentary says that the issue is not the size of faith but its presence.
Second, Jesus’ point is not for us to be able to uproot mulberry trees or to literally move mountains, or any other physical supernatural thing like that. But instead, his point is that our small faith, if it is genuine faith can be enough for us to be able to forgive others over and over again.
And then he starts talking in a mini parable in verses 7-10. His main point is that we are unworthy servants of God. He doesn’t owe us anything. The master is not going to serve the servant. The servant still has more work to do.
We owe him everything. Including and especially our lives. We are to be faithful to our duties as a servant of God no matter what the demands may be.
Jesus says that the Master will not serve the servant, at least not here in this world. And yet, in eternity we see what will happen. At the kingdom feast, at the eternal wedding feast, all the servants of Christ will be seated and served. As we saw back in Luke 12:35-37:
“Stay dressed for action[f] and keep your lamps burning,36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants[g] whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them
So, we get to celebrate eternity with the King at the eternal wedding feast thanks to the grace of God and his forgiveness of our sins. We have our heart changed by the Holy Spirit and we repent of our sins and by faith we are saved.
Jesus reminds us constantly that we have been forgiven and that it is he that accomplished it. HE tells us to remember.
And so, we remember. Constantly, regularly. We do it every first Sunday of the month. We remember and we know that we are in his hands because we have responded by faith to his death on cross and resurrection. God grace poured out on those covered with his blood, the blood of the lamb, come to take away the sins of the world. He instead he spares us from the wrath of God.
He condescended from Heaven, still God, was born a man, a human baby and lived the perfect, sinless life that we needed to and were unable to live. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says: but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Before he did this, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis, we celebrate communion as a church family.
We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.
Luke’s Gospel records the Last Supper, and he writes of Jesus telling his disciples in chapter 22, verses 19& 20: He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after super, he took the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have one thing to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.
Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.
First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.