Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
What is the worst disease you know? In Venezuela there is dengue, chikungunya, zika and others. Nowadays we do not find leprosy in Venezuela, but in Brazil, yes. It is an ugly disease. It begins with a stain on the skin and in the severe stage, the body decomposes like a corpse, while the person lives. Leprosy was common in the Middle East at the time of Jesus Christ and according to the law of the Old Testament, lepers had to live apart from other people, because the disease is contagious. Lepers suffered not only the loss of their health, but also the companionship of family and friends.
In our text for today, Jesus met 10 lepers. "Upon entering a village, there met him ten lepers, which stood afar off, and lifted up their voices, saying, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us."
They asked mercy of Jesus and the Lord showed them mercy. But in this way: "And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves to the priests." Because according to the law, if someone recovered from leprosy, he had to be examind by the priests of the Temple in Jerusalem to be certified as healthy. So it came to pass as they went, they were cleansed.
However, of the ten who asked for the mercy of Jesus, only one returned to thank him. And he was a Samaritan. Those who remember the story of the Good Samaritan from last Sunday remember that the Samaritans were another people hat lived in the land of Palestine, but by long history, there was no friendship between Jews and Samaritans. But leprosy did not make a distinction, they were all lepers. They were equal in their disease.
Only one, the Samaritan, returned. "And he fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks." That means, he worshiped Jesus as God. And Jesus said to him, "Arise, go; your faith has saved you. "
Jesus showed mercy to all and healed all the lepers. Never mind that only one returned to thank and worship him. The Lord did not withdraw the gift of health. But he who returned received a greater gift than physical health. "Your faith has saved you" means the Samaritan received the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life.
We all have a disease and are equal in this disease, which is sin. Adam and Eve, the first humans, disobeyed God and received the curse of physical death and eternal death, but at the same time God promised a Savior for their sins.
Because of our flesh, we have evil desires. Our tendency is to disobey God. There are consequences of this disobedience in this life and in eternity. Says Proverbs 4: 10-23, "The way of the wicked is like darkness. They do not know when they may stumble" In Galatians 5: 16-24, Paul listed the fruits of the “works of the flesh, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, quarrels, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of which I tell you now, as I have told you befor, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. "
When someone is animated by selfish desires, he wants everything for himself, everything in excess. The results are, for example, alcohol abuse and drugs, and sexual diseases. There are also conflicts with the authorities and street fights. In addition, the consequence of life that does not take into account the will of God is the condemnation of eternal death.
Each of us have these tendencies to eat and drink without limits, to commit adultery and fight with others because of the inheritance of Adam and Eve. However, we are free from eternal damnation because of Jesus Christ. Christ died in our place and won for us the promise of eternal life after physical death. Therefore, we are free from condemnation and fear of the wrath and punishment of God.
However, this freedom is not to live any way we want, but to live as children of God. Jesus healed the lepers and gave them a second chance to live with their relatives and friends. Who in their right mind would say this: I do not want to be with my family and friends, I want to stay a leper to receive alms from the people? Madness!
Spiritual freedom is freedom from the bondage of sin, ie, slavery to evil desires. We can not continue in them. When the Samaritan thought of Jesus did for him, he returned to worship him and thank him. This is our response too. God healed us of our sickness and gave us another opportunity to live as his children. We have the opportunity to receive his gifts in preaching of the Word and the sacraments. Because of Jesus Christ we pray, worship and thank God. In this sense, we are priests of God and in that we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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