“Where Are the Nine?”

Sermon Notes Sunday November 8th, 2015

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

 

Where Are the Nine?

Psalm 138; Luke 17:11-19

 

A story is told of a man who was lost in the woods. Later, in describing the experience, he told how frightened he was and how he had even finally knelt and prayed. Someone asked, “Did God answer your prayer?” “Oh, no,” the man replied. “Before God had a chance, a guide came along and showed me the way out.” Like that man, many people are blind to the many blessings that God daily showers upon them.

 

The truth of the matter is that God has blessed us far more than we realize and far more than we deserve. As children of God, it is so important to understand how to respond properly to God’s abundant blessings. In Luke 17 Jesus tells of two responses. These two responses, the proper and improper, are illustrated for us in this story of Jesus cleansing the ten lepers. Only one of the ten responded properly. For our surprise, the one who responded was not a Jew but a Samaritan. The only proper response to God’s abundant blessings is to glorify Him from a thankful heart. The point Luke was trying to make is clear: Thanksgiving is a part of our relationship with God.

 

What Is Leprosy?

To appreciate what Jesus did, we need to briefly understand that terrible disease called leprosy. “Leprosy” was a generic term for skin diseases in Jesus’ time. It included everything from fungus infections, to psoriasis, to the germ-caused Hanson’s disease that we know today as leprosy. Lepers lived in isolated communities. If they had to be in town, they would announce their presence. If they were coming down the street, they would yell out: “Leper coming! Leper coming!” and everyone would scatter. One authority ruled that lepers had to stay 50 yards (150 foot) upwind of any other person. At that distance, it is difficult to have a meaningful relationship with people because religiously they were considered unclean. You do not talk, touch, or love lepers. What Jesus did here was break the isolation. By healing them, these ten men were freed to return to society, to their families and friends. Jesus, in essence, gave them a new life. One could say that they were resurrected.

 

Ten men were given a gift, only one man stopped to express his gratitude. Like the ten lepers, we have received the healing of the Lord. We have been forgiven. We have been made whole. What is our reaction? What is our response to God’s abundant blessings? Where do you stand today? Which camp do you belong to? Do you stand with the nine who never showed up after they got healed or with the Samaritan? Two thoughts I would like to underscore this morning:

 

First: One Grateful Samaritan

The Samaritan recognized his blessings. Luke 17:15 says, “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.” He knew a great blessing had come his way. The first step in giving thanks is recognizing our blessings. Sometime we sing the old hymn, “Count Your Blessings”, but too many focus their attention on their burdens, rather than their blessings. Some of us can see no blue in our sky if one small cloud is there. Every day we wake up, we should be thankful for life. Every meal is a blessing that many do not enjoy. So one step in giving thanks is recognizing God as the ultimate source of all our blessings. Then, recognize each and every blessing that comes our way. Yet too often we take for granted so many blessings, and fail to be thankful.

 

After the Samaritan recognized the blessing of his healing he returned. It would have been logical for him to have followed the other men and gone to the temple, but he first returned to the Lord Jesus “praising God in a loud voice.” He wanted to give glory to God. A cleansed leper was to offer a sacrifice with the help of the priest, but this man realized that a more important sacrifice had to be offered first, the sacrifice of praise. Luke also says in Luke 17:16, “He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him.” He recognized that Jesus was involved in his healing, and he wanted to give Him thanks. Clearly this man loved Jesus!

 

There is one greater thing about the Samaritan man. By coming back to Jesus, the man received something greater than physical healing: he was also saved from his sins. In Luke 17:19 Jesus said, “Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” “Your faith has saved (sozo) you.” The Samaritan’s nine friends were declared clean by the priest, but the Samaritan man was declared saved by the Son of God! While it is wonderful to experience the miracle of physical healing, it is even more wonderful to experience the miracle of eternal salvation.

 

Second: Nine Ungrateful Men

As illustrated in Luke 17, the numbers of the thankless far surpass those of the thankful. It is only one-tenth. In 2 Timothy 3:2 the Bible says that in the last days, it will be characteristic of people to be “unthankful.” In Luke 17:17 Jesus asked one of the saddest questions ever uttered, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? All ten were healed, but “Where are the nine?” They had got all they wanted from the Lord, and had no more thought about Him. They turned their backs on Him.

 

Have you wondered whatever happened to those nine lepers who were healed by Jesus? They never came back to thank Him and to follow Him? “Where are the nine.?” Probably one was glad to be back home with his family; another at a “Welcome Home Party” surrounded by his friends; another over at the lake feverishly working around a boat, mending his nets; another over at the local diner; another busy giving interviews about his book entitled, “How to Overcome Leprosy”; another at the Samaritan Spa; another is silent & reclusive, not wanting anyone to find out that he was healed, etc. Friends, I believe Jesus is still asking, “Where are the nine?” Would you be the one who returned to give thanks, or among the nine that did not return to give thanks? Far more people have been blessed by the Lord in some way than have returned to His house to give Him thanks.

 

Count your blessings. Be that Samaritan who returned to praise God and thank Him as his response of getting healed, forgiven, and loved. As you all know, this is our stewardship season. Today the 2016 pledge cards have been collected as a sign of our commitment to Jesus and our proof that we love God’s kingdom more than this world. I hope you took God at His word and trusted Him to supply all your needs as you presented your pledge card this morning. If you haven’t, I encourage you to do so. I am sure, our financial secretary, Leigh Bostwick, will be glad to get yours even if it is a few days late. Look how blessed you are and give from the overflowing blessings of Jesus in your life. Look at what you’ve been given not what you lack. Winston Churchill (1874-1965) loved to tell the story of the little boy who fell off a pier into deep ocean water. An older sailor, heedless of the great danger to himself, dove into the stormy water, struggled with the boy, and finally, exhausted, brought him to safety. Two days later, the boy’s mother came with the boy to the same pier seeking the sailor who rescued her son. Finding him, she asked, “You dove into the ocean to bring my boy out?” “I did,” he replied. The mother quickly demanded, “Then where’s his hat?” “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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