This morning Ten Lepers come to Jesus. Together they cry out saying the same words that we said together this morning. Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ have mercy upon us. All ten were healed but out of the Ten only one came back to thank the Lord and worship him.
It’s somewhat difficult for us to fully appreciate how awful leprosy is. We don’t have many folks with it around here. But leper colonies continue to exist in many parts of the world. In the ancient world lepers had to live separately. They were outcasts and they could not be seen. Folks were frightened of them. Nobody wanted to be near them. It was thought that God has forsaken them – forgotten them and left them behind.
But for the Ten Lepers this morning, they had a problem that was more than skin deep. The 10 lepers this morning ought to call to mind the Ten Commandments. And these commandments reveal a problem in all of us which is much more than skin deep. A deformity much worse than a bad complexion.
The most deformed part of us is not our skin, but our sinful hearts. These Ten Lepers call to mind that 10 Commandments which have separated us from God’s love. These commandments clearly show us our spiritual leprosy and the diagnosis – that in that day you turn away from my Word you shall surely die.
The ugly truth is that we do not pray as we ought to. We do not care and love our wives as we ought to. We do not honor our parents the way we should. We do not fear, love, and trust in God – we may look like a Christian on Sundays but may act like an atheist the rest of the week. We have broken the fifth commandment by refusing to help our neighbor in every physical need, we have slandered the reputations of others, and lacerated our own friends with our sharp tongues.
Our epistle text this morning warns us of our spiritual leprosy. Saint Paul writes that the works of the flesh, which damn us are evident; sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, fights and bickering, anger, envy, and drunkenness. Saint Paul writes that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Repent. But be joyful. Christ has died for your sins. He who knew no sin has become sin. The Son of God became the leper so that in baptism you would be born a child of God – with skin softer than an infant child, fresh from the womb. You see Jesus Himself has become what we are that we might become what he is. He became ugly on the cross that you would be beautiful now and in eternity. Your sins are forgiven.
We ourselves have been healed by God. This morning he has poured down the sunlight upon our town. He has given us family who wait upon us – friends who lift us up – rain to water the crops for a good harvest. We have food in the fridge, clothes on our back, and the eternal promises of God’s love and mercy to spiritual lepers like us. By the cross we have all been healed. We should rejoice, we should open our hymnals and sing as loud as we can.
After all, just imagine that you had found out you had a terminal disease and would die within a few months. But now a doctor has burst into the waiting room. He cannot hold back his smile and giddiness as tells you that your illness is gone, not a trace of it remains. You have been miraculously cured. And not just that but when you die angles will carry you to heaven – to sing eternally with God in paradise – to bask in His love forever.
We who had a terminal disease which brought eternal death by God’s law have now been redeemed by the Gospel. His grace covers us. His blood washes us clean from all the sins that stood against us.
But the sad truth is that we live our lives like the 9 lepers who refuse to thank God for what he has done. We expect great things to always happen to us as if we deserve nothing but good and then we are shocked and angry when things don’t go our way. We blame everyone else for our problems and we refuse to recognize that we are the ones who have made a mess of our lives.
But with Jesus, He did not just die for our sins of adultery, anger, rivalries, and our unbelief. He has died for our ingratitude.
So this morning we have a clean heart and a good conscience. Jesus died and rose for sinners and spiritual lepers. You are back from the dead. By Jesus glorious resurrection he gives you a new life.
St. Paul tells us this morning that the fruit of the spirit is love not hatred. Joy, not unhappiness. Peace, not division. Patience, not a quick temper. God calls us to be patient and kind. Goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Remember you belong to Christ Jesus. And those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. It is no longer you who live but Christ who lives in you.
You belong to Jesus. You are His and he is yours. Nothing separates you from God anymore. His blood washes over you. You are cleansed you are healed.
In closing there is something important about the Christian life that should not be ignored. Not only should we learn to be grateful, but we should learn to develop the virtue of putting up with ingratitude from others. If we want to be Christians, be faithful to God and serve others we should learn from Jesus and not be bothered that for every 9 people who criticize, only one will return any thanks.
Jesus does not let the ingratitude of 9 lepers stop him from continuing doing good to others. And neither should you in your life. Children are rarely truly thankful for the sacrifice and love they receive from their parents. Students rarely thank their teachers for the life-long work of study and passion devoted to the very task of educating and helping them.
Congregations are rarely all together thankful for faithful pastors who preach God’s Word, and pastors are perhaps never as thankful as they ought to be for their own congregations. We should all repent!
God makes the sun shine not just on people that thank him, but upon all, even the wicked and those with no gratitude at all. Like Jesus, you should never become bitter when you do not receive any thanks. After all, you have one in heaven above who will thank you in their stead. But this morning, let us all be like the healed leper. Let us draw near to God with a thankful heart and thank him for what he has done.