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Don't miss the best gift

Luke 17: 11-19

Pastor David Ernst

14th Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Sep 25, 2011 

Grace and peace to you from our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

How great is the love and mercy of God!

In our text for today, Jesus encountered ten lepers. Leprosy is a foul and contagious disease, the first symptoms are skin lesions and then the destruction of the legs and arms. Today leprosy still is found in the Middle East, as in antiquity, and closer to Venezuela in Brazil. According to the law of Israel, the lepers were supposed to live apart from the community and could not have physical contact with healthy people.

So the ten called to Jesus from afar, shouting, "Master, have mercy on us!" He had compassion and healed them, and sent them to the priests in the temple of Jerusalem, because according to law, those healed of leprosy needed an exam and health certificate from the priests as verification.

What happened then? Only one of the ten, seeing that he had been healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice, and fell on his face at his feet before Jesus Christ. This is how many people, perhaps most, act. In time of need, sickness, insecurity, they pray to God, "Lord God, have mercy on us. Help us, please, for You are the Almighty and merciful God." But when the storm, the crisis, has past, they forget the power and mercy of God and do not pay attention to His holy will.

However, the only one of the ten lepers who returned to thank Jesus received a gift more precious than health. Jesus said to him, not the others, "Your faith has saved you." Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God. That means, through our Lord Jesus Christ we have this peace and the promise of eternal life.

Of course, God in His great mercy gives us all the good things in this life. Jesus taught his disciples to ask for these things in the Lord's Prayer. As the Small Catechism of Martin Luther says, in the fourth petition, "Gives us this day our daily bread," we ask for all that is needed for food and satisfaction of all our other needs in this life, such as food, drink, clothing, footwear, house, home, land, livestock, money, goods, pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful officials, good government, good weather, peace, health, good order, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors faithful, and the like. We ask God to all in the name of Jesus Christ and He has promised to hear us.

But above all is the promise of eternal life with God because of the suffering and death of Christ on the cross. All the good things of this life pass away, because our time on earth is short, but this promise, this good relationship with God, never will. This is the basis of our inner peace today and forever.

How do we receive this gift of salvation by faith today? Through the Holy Spirit in baptism. In the sacrament we receive the gift of saving faith. And what is our response to the mercy of God in our baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus?. Like the healed man who returned to glorify Jesus, we live as grateful children of God, not to win the love of God by our works, but to glorify God through word and deed.

As St. Paul wrote in today's epistle (Galatians 5:16-24), "Walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh ... the works of the flesh, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, debauchery, and things like these ... But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. "

The peace of God which passeth all understanding will keep you in heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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