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A Fifty Yard Dash to Thanksgiving

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 18, 2024 12:00 am

A Fifty Yard Dash to Thanksgiving

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 18, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version or read the manuscript of this message here: https://wfth.me/pap.  Because we can't physically see God--although we do see His works--and although we can't physically hear God with our ears--although we do read His words in our Bibles--it can be hard to remember to thank God for the blessings He gives us. It's much easier to remember to be grateful when you can see and hear and touch the person you're thanking. When Jesus healed ten lepers, only one remembered to be grateful. Stephen Davey challenges us to be like him in this lesson.

 

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Jesus is telling these men to exercise faith in his ability to heal them before giving them any evidence that he would. It's only after they obeyed his word that verse 14 says, notice that, and as they went, they were cleansed. You can render it, only after they departed were they healed.

After they were in the middle of obeying his word did they benefit from the power of his word. Obviously, you can't physically see God, although you do see and experience his works. And you can't physically hear God with your ears, although you do read his words in your Bible. So, it can be hard to remember to thank God for the blessings he gives us. It's much easier to remember to be grateful when you can see and hear and touch the person you're thanking. When Jesus healed 10 lepers, only one of them remembered to be grateful.

Stephen Davey challenges you to be like that one leper in today's message. Jesus' wisdom for the heart. And Stephen's in Luke 17 today. The cameras of divine inspiration have been set up to capture what takes really no more than 45 minutes or less. Luke is the reporter. So, let's go there to Luke chapter 17. If you're new to us, we're working our way through this gospel account with cameras rolling, so to speak. We're now at verse 11. On the way to Jerusalem, he, that's Jesus and his disciples were passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by 10 lepers who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices saying, Jesus master, have mercy on us.

And we need to go back into this world for just a moment before we dive in any further. Jesus and his disciples have arrived here at the edge of a town, a village. It bordered both Galilee and Samaria. Now typically, lepers live just outside of the common village borders away from people, which was required. They were considered infectious, dangerous, but also unclean, unforgiven by God, which is why they had leprosy. That was the common view, even though by this time, that was no longer the reason guaranteed. But there was no more fearful diagnosis in this generation than a doctor telling you, you've got leprosy.

In many ways, this was a death sentence. Now the Greek term Luke uses for leprosy is a broad term for a wide range of skin diseases. It could be a rash. It could be a skin disease that whatever it was, it would provoke immediate suspicion of God's judgment.

It was dangerous. The individual would have been immediately inspected by the local priest. If leprosy was confirmed, he would be banished from the village, put outside the town, no possibility of any contact with any member of his family, any member of society. Lepers would band together. They would build little huts or lean-tos outside of the village borders where they would live at a distance. In fact, Luke uses that phrase that they were standing at a distance.

That's a volume, beloved, of suffering. We know from historical records that someone with leprosy, a man, let's say, with leprosy, was not allowed to get within 50 yards of another human being unless that other human being was a leper. They might have family members designate a place where they might drop off food periodically from time to time, but most of the time life would move on without them. They'd be forgotten. They're going to spend the rest of their lives 50 yards away from family, 50 yards away from the synagogue, 50 yards away from friends, classes, children. They would be close enough to see their children if they had them. Fifty yards isn't that far away, but it's too far to hug them or to have a conversation with them.

They were close enough to hear laughter from the village, but not close enough to know why or to let her in. If you were to write the biography of a leper, you would entitle it something like 50 yards from life, 50 yards from love, 50 yards from hope. The rabbis in Jesus' day were teaching that only God could cure leprosy. And let me tell you, God's about to walk by.

God's just arriving. Now, Luke's account implies here that this event is taking place near a Jewish village near the border of Samaria. Evidently then Samaritan and Jewish lepers will learn they were part of the tent. They evidently no longer cared what side of the railroad tracks they were from. A leper's friends were other lepers. Luke says they were standing at a distance in verse 12.

I would say it was about 50 yards away. And they're shouting, notice, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. They've been introduced, but they know it's Jesus.

Word is spread. By the way, Jesus is well into his third year of ministry at this point. They call him Master. That's equal to rabbi.

It's an honorable title of respect. So we can pick up from this that they know he's a religious leader. They know Jesus is a teacher, but they also know he's a healing teacher. And they no doubt know that Jesus had already healed another leper. We covered that one incident that Luke recorded back in chapter 5.

That stunning news no doubt raced through this region. In fact, if you go back to that chapter, which we won't, but just for a sentence or two, Jesus is asked by that leper, are you willing to heal me? And Jesus says, yes, I am willing. And he touched him.

And he was immediately healed. So these 10 lepers here some three years later are not asking, Lord, are you willing? Lord, can you do this?

We know you can. But would you be willing, in a sense, to give us mercy? The mood of this imperative request would be expressed in our language with the word, please. So they're pleading, they're crying, they're lamenting, please, please, Jesus, please, rabbi, please, Master, please, literally, mercy us.

Don't walk by us. Jesus stops and he responds with a very strange command. Verse 14, when he saw them, he said to them, go and show yourselves to the priests. That's strange, very unexpected. Back in Luke chapter 5, Jesus went over and touched the leper and he was immediately healed.

They're probably expecting that. But Jesus doesn't go over to them. He doesn't touch them. He simply says, go show yourselves to the priest.

But that's a problem. They've got leprosy. They could be stung to death for entering the village. You don't go looking for a priest as a leper. They could have easily responded to Jesus here. Don't you know we're not allowed within 50 yards of a priest.

We're not going to walk into his office. We know from Jewish history, by the way, that a priest in this day wouldn't even buy food from a street vendor or merchant if a leper at any time had walked down that street. They were terrified of it. Priests got leprosy too. But these lepers definitely understood the implication of Jesus's command.

He's pulling this from the law. According to Mosaic law, if a person sensed that their leprosy was in remission, it seemed like the skin is healing. They had evidence that it was coming back to normal. They could go to the priest for verification or at least call the priest to them. But the only reason they would ever go to a priest or call for a priest to come is if they sent some kind of remission, some kind of improvement. And then if it was confirmed, the priest would offer eight days of special sacrifices and then pronounce that individual clean and reintroduce him into a society. That's all spelled out in Leviticus chapter 14. But Jesus is commanding they go to the priest and they're covered with leprosy.

Nothing's in remission. Nobody did that. I could imagine these 10 men kind of looking at each other with, did you hear what I think I heard? I think he said, go to the priest. I think he said the same thing.

He's 50 yards away, but I think that's what he said. Jesus is telling these men to exercise faith in his ability to heal them before giving them any evidence that he would. It's only after they obeyed his word that verse 14 says, notice that, and as they went, they were cleansed.

You could render it only after they departed. Were they healed after they were in the middle of obeying his word? Did they benefit from the power of his word? Don't miss this here.

They were to exercise trust in his word without any evidence. So do you. So do you. How do you know you're going to heaven? Are you hearing bells?

There's medicine for that. You see the angels? No, the wages of sin is death. His word says, but the free gift of God is eternal life.

It's a free gift through Jesus Christ our Lord. How do you know he truly forgave your sins? Do you have some special feeling? Maybe sometimes you do. Sometimes you don't. How do you know he forgave you?

He said, if you confess your sin, I'll be faithful and just to forgive it, cleanse you from all unrighteousness. So these 10 lepers are standing here. We're not told how long or if they hesitated.

If they talked it over, evidently they all took a little vote and they agreed, all 10 were going to head out. We're also not told how far down the road they go before they start to recognize, all 10 of them, that their leprosy is going away. We don't know if it slowly faded away or if after two steps, gone. What we do know is that they didn't have mirrors. They couldn't look at themselves, but they can look at each other. And I think if we'd been there, you know, at some point we would see them stop, start looking at each other as they're talking and then looking closer and then pointing and then pulling up their tunics and looking at their skin and then perhaps breaking out of the tears and laughter and crying and hugging and jumping up and down for joy and then running to the nearest priest who would be able to reintroduce them to life.

They've been resurrected as it were from the dead and they all take off except one. Verse 15, then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. Love the original language, praising God with a phony megalay. We reverse it and create our English word megaphone. This guy was loud.

He is not holding back. Reminded me of the account of the woman to Pastor Charles Spurgeon was witnessing in London there in the late eighteen hundreds. And as it began to dawn on her, the truth of the gospel that Christ would indeed forgive her and save her. She got so excited.

She said to Charles Spurgeon, if Jesus saves me, he will never hear the end of it. Why do we get over it? Don't you love new believers? You know, they just haven't gotten over it yet.

We kind of think, well, give it time. Come to church. We'll pour cold water on that. But he's excited around here. Well, this leper is not going to let Jesus hear the end of it. Verse 16 says he fell on his face at Jesus feet, giving him thanks. He's worshiping Jesus now. Earlier he was praising God. Now he's praising Jesus. He now understands Jesus is more than a rabbi, more than a, you know, good teacher.

Jesus is worthy of worship as the empowered Messiah, God in the flesh. Only God can heal leprosy. And God just did.

And he gets it. Now, Luke adds this little biographical notation here almost as a side to the commentary. Verse 16. Now he was a Samaritan. Now, this implies that some or all of the of the nine were Jewish. It's as if Luke says the guy you would have never expected to come back and say thank you was the only guy who did. Look at this.

He's a Samaritan. They hated Jews. Jews hated them. Now back to the intent of the author. If you go back to chapter one, remember Luke is writing this report and he's going to give it to his friend Theophilus, that Greek statesman. He's basically telling him, look, the gospel isn't just for Jews. The other nine lepers then experienced the Lord's power. This Samaritan is the only one who's come to worship the Lord's person.

And get this here. This is his first act of freedom. This is his first act after being brought back, as it were, to life. What does he do? He makes a 50 yard dash to Jesus.

I like to think of it as a 50 yard dash to Thanksgiving. He runs half the length of a football field and falls at the feet of Jesus. Now with that, Jesus asks him some questions. Now it isn't because Jesus doesn't know the answers, but because Jesus wants to make a point of application and let me just say it in a sentence. This is an understanding as we look at this.

This is something deeper taking place. This is a demonstration, not just of Messianic power, but of Messianic grace. Verse 17, the first question. Jesus asks, were not 10 cleansed?

Now don't miss the obvious here. All 10 were cleansed. It didn't matter if they were Jewish or Samaritan.

I think it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say. It wouldn't matter if they were young or old, educated, illiterate, religious background, pagan background. The gracious power of Jesus healed all 10. Now let me just kind of pull over for a moment and remind you not to equate physical healing with spiritual salvation.

Only one leper gets saved here in this account. By healing the sick, Jesus is validating his authenticity, his claim that he is indeed the prophesied Messiah whom the prophet said would heal, and he did. In fact, Peter will preach in Acts chapter 2 that Jesus proved who he was by those signs and wonders, those miracles. He didn't do it just because they're sick.

He's doing it to prove a point. Jesus left a lot of lepers on the planet, by the way, when he left it. But he's validating his claim to be the Messiah.

This is a taste of the Messiah's kingdom. In fact, most of the people whom Jesus healed in the Gospel accounts, if you look closely, were not saved when he healed them. Some, if not all, came to faith after, which is an interesting comparison to the supposed faith healers of our day who say you must have great faith in order to be healed. And that's a nice little out because if you're not healed, well, you just didn't have enough faith. Jesus doesn't holler, hey, you guys got any faith?

You got great faith. So this physical healing of all 10 demonstrated the grace of God. He's not just going to heal his followers.

He's not just going to help his friends. He's not just going to give cleansing to the religious leaders in the synagogue or those who are related to him by Jewish kinsman birth. This is the grace of God at work, just as he graciously blesses the unbeliever today.

Now Jesus asks another question, verse 17. We're not 10 cleansed. Now notice, where are the nine? Now he's not asking because he doesn't know.

He knows exactly where they were. He's just pointing out that 10 were healed, but neither of them evidently only cared about the healing. They cared nothing for the healer. They had their miracle, never mind the Messiah. So again, this is a demonstration of grace. Don't overlook the fact that Jesus healed them, knowing they believe him in the dust. They wouldn't even shout out, thank you over their shoulder. If I'd been Jesus right about now, I'd have waved my hand and all nine would have got it back.

Twice as bad. Ever think about the fact that if Jesus only did for us what we thanked him for, we'd be in a lot of trouble? I'll do one thing for you today and if you remember to thank me, I'll do another thing.

If you don't, you're good for the day. No, he daily loads us with benefits. Psalm 68, 19. He doesn't just give us grace. He lavishes upon us his grace, Ephesians 1. Seven, more than we could ever see, more than we ever stopped to thank him, more than we ever observe.

But nine of them, and now what happens? Verse 19, Jesus said to this one, this one leper, rise and go your way. Your faith has made you well. Literally, your faith has so and so is the word it saved you. By the way, Jesus didn't say your gratitude saved you.

Your faith, your worship of me at my feet, your recognition that I am the Messiah, that has cleansed you not just from physical corruption but now spiritual corruption. Now before we leave the scene, what could we learn about this natural undertow of ingratitude? How do we keep from running with the majority as they rush past the master, the maestro who invests so much, who blesses so much, who gives so much every single day? How do we develop the ability to stop, recognize it, and applaud, which is another way of saying thank you? Let me suggest two ways. Number one, take some time to think. Take some time to think about his grace.

Take some time to look around, go through the process of rehearsing his grace in your lives. I thought about the fact that when our children were young, and now we're doing it with our grandchildren, we played that game, I spy with my little eye, I love that game, doesn't require batteries, that's free, love it. I spy with my little eye something green, and all of a sudden I'm seeing green everywhere. I didn't notice it before, didn't even know what color I was going to choose. I chose blue last hour, this one's green. Green everywhere.

Why? Because I'm now thinking about its existence. I'm now thinking through, I'm looking now, I'm rushing thinking. Instead of racing down the road in a perpetual rush hour, so to speak, look around at his creation.

Look into his word at what it says for direction. Take time to think of what God has done for you. Secondly, take some time to give thanks. Don't just think about it, don't just see it.

Verbalize your gratitude. Resist the crowd. These nine are racing back to their families, and boy do they have a great reason to run. Every reason in the world to rush back. They're racing back to their lives.

One man raced back to the one who will become his life, his savior. But the world is always going to be too busy, too uninterested. In fact, Romans 1 says, too defiant. They don't want to see God.

They don't want to see his hand. One of the key distinctives between you and the world is what Paul said, they refuse to give what? Thanks. And you do. Take some time to think.

Take some time to give thanks. I'm sure you've probably seen the news. It's, I think, a month or so old.

I think it might even be less, but it came across my computer screen when I hit that plus sign because I'm going to search for something, and all the news pops up. It carried the story that Australian man whose boat broke down and the current swept him into the ocean for months. The odds of him being rescued were a billion to one.

It would be miraculous. Months later, just a few weeks ago, he was spotted by a tuna fishing boat from Mexico. And as they pulled up to him, though, you can watch the video. This bone thin man, he'd survived off rainwater and fish he was able to catch.

Weather beat, beard, all matted hair. The boat is pulling up, and all he does is he starts patting his chest, weeping, saying, thank you. Thank you.

That says it all. He'd been rescued. He'll never forget that moment, and neither will this leper.

Neither should you or I. As we remember that we've been rescued forever, and even today, shepherded by our Savior. That was Stephen Davey. His message from Luke 17 is called A Fifty-Yard Dash to Thanksgiving. This is Wisdom for the Heart. This daily broadcast comes from Stephen's four decades of proclaiming the truth of God's Word. We have a second daily program called The Wisdom Journey. On that broadcast, Stephen is teaching through the entire Bible, all 66 books, and I hope you'll join us for that as well. If we can help you today, our number is 866-48-BIBLE. That's 866-48-BIBLE, or 866-482-4253. Call today, then join us back here next time for more Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-18 00:17:06 / 2024-03-18 00:25:55 / 9

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