Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Believing Is Seeing

click to see more by James Christiansen

In this weekend's Gospel reading, ten lepers approach Jesus asking him to have mercy on them. Jesus tells them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests" which is what they are to do when healed. Luke's Gospel goes on to tell us
And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."
I once preached on how important sight is in this passage. Jesus "sees" the lepers in a way that is not so different from how the "Good Samaritan" saw the person beaten and left for dead and then,
Seeing is used in this story by Luke to convey perceiving things in a Godly way. One of the lepers sees that they are made clean and perceives what this means. Before we fault the other nine lepers too much, remember that they are doing both what the law requires and what Jesus asked of them. The nine are doing what they know to be the right thing.

The tenth leper though sees that something more is going on here, he turns back and he praises God with a loud voice. The tenth leper lays out on the road at Jesus’ feet and he thanks Jesus for the healing. It helps to know that thanking a person was not the way things were done in the Israel of Jesus’ day. There was a common saying, “Don’t thank me, you will repay me.” The idea behind it was a little like I scratched your back, one day you’ll scratch mine. Instead of thanking a person, you would promise to do something for them in return. It was God that one thanked for everyone knew that there was nothing you could do for God in return for God’s blessings.

So in laying on the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanking him, the Samaritan is showing unreservedly that he understands Jesus to be God incarnate. The Samaritan holds nothing back once he sees, once he rightly understands, that Jesus is Lord. He turns back from heading to the Temple, why go to the Temple when God is here on the road. The Samaritan praises God with a loud voice, prostrates himself before Jesus and thanks him.

The nine lepers were still bound by the way the world works. They were still on their way to confirm the healing of their flesh when something more was being offered. The only one left giving praise to God was a foreigner, a dreaded Samaritan. Yet another sign that the Kingdom of God was being opened up to everyone.
The faith to go to Jerusalem to show themselves at the Temple was the faith that made all 10 lepers clean. It was the faith to turn back and acknowledge that what Jesus gave was a gift from God that saved the tenth leper in a way that brought him into relationship with Jesus. The full text of the sermon is online: Thankfully Made Whole.



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