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Your Faith-Your Jesus

Luke 17:11-19

Rev. Kurt Hering

Pentecost 21, Proper 23, series C
Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton  
Kansas


right-click to download MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Oct 9, 2016 

Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.

In the introduction of his sermon of 1533 on today's text, Luther says: “So that those of you who were not in church today may worship our Lord God and not turn into totally irrational animals, let us listen to the Holy Gospel.”

What is Pastor Luther’s reason for such a brutal introduction to our Holy Gospel for this Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost? He wants to point out the ultimate factor that differentiates us from the beasts of the earth, as presented by Luke in this account of Jesus’ healing of the ten lepers. 

Simply put, the difference between man and beast--between that which is rational and irrational--is our worship. Luther is saying it is irrational to despise preaching and God’s Word by forgetting our need for a Sabbath Day and neglecting to attend the weekly Divine Service of our Lord. Paul, likewise, uses the word “fool” to describe those who exchange worship of the glory of God—that is, Jesus the Christ of God and Him crucified and risen for our salvation—for images resembling that which only dies and goes back to the dust from which it came. When we consider that Jesus said whoever calls one’s brother "raca," that is, a fool, “will be liable to the hell of fire.” [Matthew 5:22], we realize just how serious and condemning it is to ignore the public worship life of Christ’s church. Why? Because it is the right worship of God that bows down before Him to receive His blessings with thanksgiving for His merciful goodness.

To hear the entire sermon as it was preached to the saints at Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS for the Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost, "Your Faith-Your Jesus," click on the audio link provided above. The sermon begins at 12:25.

Graphic: "Jesus Heals the Leper," Rembrandt sketch.

For those of you who prefer to read or read along while listening, the preaching manuscript the preaching manuscript follows below. .

Nota Bene: Sermons are meant to be heard. Bullet points in the manuscript are explained and filled out during the preaching, so you will need to listen to the audio file to get the full message.

TEXT: Luke 17:11–19 On the way to Jerusalem [Jesus] was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17Then 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?” 19And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Dear Baptized and cleansed of God,

“So that those of you who were not in church today may worship our Lord God and not turn into totally irrational animals, let us listen to the Holy Gospel.” Luther

That may seem an odd way to introduce such a wonderful Gospel text as Luke’s account of Jesus healing the then lepers and his subsequent sermon, but let’s think on it for just a bit.

What is it that makes us different than animals? Our flesh and blood is made of the same stuff. We, like the irrational animals are carbon based life forms. We breathe the same air. We eat essentially the same foods. We even “be fruitful and multiply” in the same way as most mammals.

So what is it that makes us different? Science tells us the difference lies in a microscopic strand of information called DNA—a sort of biological computer chip—and an even tinier speck on that strand. That’s it. We are but a microscopic dot of an “i” or cross of a “t” away from being a chimpanzee or even a rat.

Scripture tells us the difference lies in this, “In the beginning… God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:1a, 27-28.

We’ve come a long way since the beginning. As Paul puts it in his sermon to the Christians of God’s church gathered by the Holy Spirit at Rome, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Romans 1:22-23

And herein lies Pastor Luther’s reason for such a brutal introduction to our Holy Gospel for this Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost. He wants to point out the ultimate factor that differentiates us from the beasts of the earth, as presented by Luke in this account of Jesus’ healing of the ten lepers. 

Simply put, the difference between man and beast--between that which is rational and irrational--is our worship. Luther is saying it is irrational to despise preaching and God’s Word by forgetting our need for a Sabbath Day and neglecting to attend the weekly Divine Service of our Lord. Paul, likewise, uses the word “fool” to describe those who exchange worship of the glory of God—that is, Jesus the Christ of God and Him crucified and risen for our salvation—for images resembling that which only dies and goes back to the dust from which it came. That shows just how serious and condemning it is to ignore the public worship life of Christ’s church when you remember that Jesus said whoever calls one’s brother raca, that is, a fool, “will be liable to the hell of fire.” [Matthew 5:22].

So we see Jesus making the same point about the difference between man and beast when He says to the Samaritan healed of his leprosy, Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

In telling the Samaritan leper, “your faith has made you well,” Jesus is saying that his faith has made him whole, that is, truly human again. He has been saved by having the image of God restored to him by faith.

What is this faith of the tenth leper by which Jesus says he was saved, rather than merely cleansed as He says of the other nine? It is the right worship of God that bows down before Him to receive His blessings with thanksgiving for His merciful goodness instead of claiming them as just reward for anything he has done.

As we learn to believe and confess from Christ’s pastors and saints who have gone before us and passed this saving faith along to us like the apostles before them who received it from this Jesus who healed the Samaritan leper: “[Faith] is to want and to receive the offered promise of forgiveness of sins and of justification. 49] The difference between this faith and the righteousness of the Law can be easily discerned. Faith is the divine service … that receives the benefits offered by God. The righteousness of the Law is the divine service … that offers to God our merits. God wants to be worshiped through faith so that we receive from Him those things He promises and offers.” [APOLOGY OF THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION ARTICLE IV.49: JUSTIFICATION]

The one Samaritan leper got it right—IOW, he was made right again with God as he turned in faith to the only One who could truly save him and make him right again in the image of God--while the nine religiously observant lepers were off in pursuit of the righteousness of the Law, exchanging the very image and truth of God from which they departed for the lie of which they were in eager pursuit.

Think about it. They were already healed of their disease, yet they kept walking on their way as if there was more for them to do to complete what was already finished by Jesus.

Now let us look at the Jesus set before us by Luke for just a moment. Having healed ten lepers, with the one Samaritan bowing at His feet and his disciples no doubt looking on, what does Jesus do? Brag and crow about it? No. Ever the humble servant, Jesus commends and credits the faith of the lowly Samaritan leper.

So let us examine that faith of the leper. What did it do but look to Jesus and bow down before Him in thanksgiving and praise? Jesus commends and credits the faith of the Samaritan leper, whose faith does nothing but commend and credit Jesus.

Putting two and two together as the rational folk we are--gathered here today by the Holy Spirit in Christ’s church at Faith-Hugoton/Christ-Elkhart—what is the Samaritan leper’s faith but Jesus the very Son of the living God.

This Jesus standing before him--at Whose feet he bowed in the reverent worship of thanksgiving for the gift of healing he had already received--is the One in whom he had faith and Who gives him the greater, even the greatest, blessing of salvation. This Jesus is the One Who would continue on to Calvary to dot every “i” and cross every “t” to finish that salvation by which we can be restored to the image of God and become the truly rational beings we were meant to be from the beginning.

And there is no better witness to the people of the neighborhoods in which you live, to those who are too busy for such things than to stop on their way to worship the One Who has saved you—especially for that part of the world that is your family and friends who, like the nine, prefer to go on their merry way—ignoring the One Who has died for them to make them clean to be His holy ones. For this worship of your faith—your Jesus—is the worship that cleanses you of all your sins, restores you to His image and makes you whole so that you can reflect your Jesus by your faith to others (especially your loved ones and those closest to you) in order that they might also be saved and made whole and holy—in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.



Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.



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