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Author Topic: Luke 17:11-19 What about focusing on the one leper who did return?  (Read 1545 times)
Alan
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piggysiggy
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« on: December 10, 2013, 08:14:42 AM »

Luke 17:11-19 -- the ten lepers story

As he continued his journey to Jerusalem,e he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.  As he was entering a village, ten lepers met [him]. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”

And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. 

And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan.

Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”  Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

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Last night I heard comments by a priest who was discussing stewardship, and like every other time I've heard it discussed, the focus was on the nine lepers who didn't return.  It's a sad state of affairs that nine out of ten lepers were healed but only one returned to Jesus.

Jesus does mention that the one who returned was a "foreigner," and asked where the other nine were.  So in this story it sounds like Jesus is estimating at least some of the others could have returned but chose not to; also at least some of them must not have been "foreigners" or Jesus would have singled out the one returning as such.  We don't know that for sure, and I think part of it is Jesus used the moment to once again mention his relentless theme that it isn't a matter of who you are or what group you're in, in terms of whether you do things that are pleasing to God.

Consider the parable of the seeds sown in various places.  Jesus explains it in Matt 13.  Some seeds fell where they could not grow or could not be sustained, but some fell on good ground.  What if the seed that fell on good ground, is like the leper who returned because He heard the Word and did it?

Matt 13:23
"But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

So what I get from this, is that 10 lepers were cleansed.  This was the seed, the Word, that healed them, sown in ten places.  All of them knew they were healed, but only one of the ten returned.  But if that one produces fruit 30 or 60 or 100 times, that more than makes up for the 9 who didn't do anything.  We still have multiplication, just like the loaves and fishes.

So when Jesus asked him about the other nine, in addition to making the points I mentioned above, He also gave feedback to the one who DID return, that he has done well.  This is what God wants to see, a grateful heart giving thanks.  And if that is the one who heard and understood the word, then it is Good News for God's side, because in one generation, we have taken 10 people, lost 9, but the one produced 30, 60, or 100 fold.  Doing the math, that means we've multiplied by 3 times in one generation.  If we could only grow the church at that rate!!!

The Church certainly wants to minister to all 10, not just the one who returns.  And part of that is to help the nine who were lost.  That may mean making sure they understand how much an act of gratitude can do.  Let them know that they can make a difference in the world, a huge difference.  And it all starts with receiving gifts from God -- which automatically require a response from a grateful heart or they really weren't completely received.  Just kind of sitting there in the foyer, unwrapped.

Alan
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 12:26:31 PM by Alan » Logged

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Alan
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piggysiggy
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« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2013, 11:08:32 PM »

Wow, that was strange.  I started this thread yesterday morning, and then in the evening we went to Andrew's confirmation and the SAME PRIEST that I saw on the videotape presided over it, because we don't have a bishop right now.

After the ceremony I had a chance to tell him my idea about the leper who returned, and he liked it.

How often do you get to wish you could tell the person on TV something, and then the next day you get the chance?  Smiley

Alan
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ncjohn
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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2013, 03:32:10 PM »

I'm not at all sure why the 9 didn't return. I'm not totally ready to write them off as ungrateful, though it does seem like something is amiss if you receive a gift like that and don't go back to seek out the one who gave it to you. I guess it's possible that they went to show themselves to the priests as they were told and that the priests advised them not to go back, having heard things about this "dangerous" healer, or that they sent them on to someone else to show them.

I do expect regardless though that there was still multiplication going on with those other 9. You don't have something like that happen to you and not start telling everyone you run into about it. Which means a lot of other people were hearing about the healing Jesus did which likely drew a lot more people to at least seeking him out to see what was going on.
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"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
Alan
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« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2013, 10:43:17 AM »

I'm getting pretty frequent vibes about wanting to tell some of the missing points of view we don't hear much in a number of the Gospel stories, where it sounds like it's preachy and moralistic but only because it's viewed through the lens of a preach-conditioned observer.

Like the bit about Peter denying Christ.  I think there was a purpose to it, and I'm not sure that Jesus telling Peter of the upcoming denials wasn't as much of a "suggestion" or outright plan.  Jesus could have said, "I will be killed but you need to stay alive.  Deny you knew me and they will not kill you; trust that I will see you after this is over."  That way we normally hear it sounds more like, "Peter, you don't even realize how much you suck -- you think you're so holy, and you are about to Deny God three times!"

There's a song I dedicate to this one:  Alan Parson's Project, "Don't Let it Show" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHy9yDcXMG4


I like reframing Gospel messages.  Maybe we can play online "psychodrama" and insert some lines for the various characters.  Grin

Alan
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