Healed but not Whole

“Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and wit a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner? And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (saved you) Luke 1712-19

Ten outcasts, healed and made well. They cried out for help and Jesus was quick to heal them. His compassion and mercy extended to each one in the same way. They were healed “as they went” to the temple. It must have been astounding – the word “cleansed” implies that they were made clean, emptied of any trace of disease inside. As they walked away, they were healed. Nine of these men were Jews, and in order to reenter society, the law said they must go see a priest to verify that they were in good health. They became first-hand witnesses, as did the priests, to the power and truth of who Jesus really was. Imagine the conflict this posed for the Jews and the priests alike – people who lived according to Old Testament law, who rejected everything Jesus did and who He was. Their ‘laws’ were falling apart right before their eyes, but Jesus sent them anyway. He sent them off to be a testimony to His power.

But one of these men couldn’t go to the temple. One of these men was a Samaritan, and the only thing that bound them all together was their disease, for “Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with one another” (John 4:9). He was an outcast among outcasts. While the nine headed for their temple to fulfill the law requirements, this foreigner turned back. The text implies that he was walking away, and when he realized he had been healed, he turned back “with a loud voice” and glorified God.

How could he not?! What an amazing miracle to witness! While the Jews were focused on what they had to do at the temple, this Samaritan turned his focus to the living temple. I’m sure the other nine were grateful and thankful and amazed, but they were heading in the wrong direction. In their eyes, God dwelt in the temple. They were Jews, God’s chosen people. They would connect with Him at the temple, in ceremonial fashion, and move on.

But this Samaritan… he was wrecked. The magnitude of what just occurred had him face down in the dirt at Jesus’ feet. His gratefulness could be seen and felt. Imagine the story he would tell his family and friends whom he hadn’t seen in probably some time. Imagine him returning to his life, a new and healed man.

He had no temple to go to, but in the end he had the one true Temple, Jesus Himself. The Jews were heading to a lifeless building and they had no interest in anything else. They received their healing, but they weren’t made whole the way the Samaritan man was. When Jesus tells him “your faith has made you well” He wasn’t talking about a physical healing, he was using the word for saved. This outcast received a second miracle. He knew he was face-to-face with the living God. He was healed in body and in spirit.

God’s goodness is extended to us all, He has compassion on all He has made (Psalm 145:9). He calls us to Himself through things like this, and if we just turn and walk away, we miss the true miracle. We are content to take what He gives and keep on going. To be made truly whole though, we need to stop and turn around and see Him for who He is, not just what He does for us. The Jews had no desire to press in any deeper after they received what they wanted.

When nine people walk away, be the one who remains with Him. He resides with us now, no longer confined to a temple. Be the one who turns around and receives the better, lasting gift. He is eager to heal and meet our needs, we should be just as eager to stay with Him after He does.

What costs nothing is worth nothing

images“There is a common, worldly kind of Christianity in this day, which many have, and they think they have enough – a cheap Christianity which offends nobody and requires no sacrifice – which costs nothing and is worth nothing.” J.C. Ryle

When the Pope visited the US recently, one of the funniest headlines I read was “People shocked to hear the Pope is still Catholic…” It was tongue-in-cheek and meant to be sarcastic, the point being that people are far more comfortable hearing wishy-washy opinions and feel-good messages than doctrine that requires us to take up our cross. When he took a Biblical stance on some issues, those who were getting comfortable with his perceived ‘progressive-ness’ were suddenly offended.

When Jesus said ‘take up your cross’ He wasn’t kidding. He said the world will persecute you, they will hate you even. There was a strange poll published awhile back that said that one-third of professing Christians claim that while they believe they are saved by Jesus, He really doesn’t play that big of a role in their day-to-day life. They were referred to as ‘nominal’ Christians – proud that they didn’t stand out, happy they don’t have to argue with people abut silly doctrines, content to be in the obscure background.

But ‘nominal’ isn’t a very flattering word. It means to be so small or slight and existing in name only. It isn’t a compliment. If we are living to put the world at ease and be comfortable, we have gone off track.

Jesus said the world will hate us sometimes. Our culture will take the truth, twist it up into something totally unrecognizable, and toss it back at us like a grenade. We can be shell-shocked and quiet, or we can do what we are called to do and continue in the truth with love.

Sometimes there isn’t much of a reward for standing up. Sometimes you will lose a friend. Sometimes it’s your life. I don’t believe for one second that any of our sacrifices go unseen in God’s eyes. This is His game, we play by His rules and let the chips fall where they may. I think in the end, we will find it far better to be a truthful Christian than an accommodating, nominal Christian. Jesus promises us that when we take HIS yoke upon us we will find rest (Matthew 11:29). It is the truth that sets us free, not hiding in the shadows.

“It is better to stand alone with the truth, than to be wrong with a multitude. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills. It is better to be hated for telling the truth, than to be loved for telling a lie. It is impossible to find anyone in the Bible who was a power for God who did not have enemies and was not hated. It is better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie. There is only one Gospel and Paul said, “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Adrian Rogers

There is a cross to carry. There is a burden to bear. The reward is that there is also unspeakable JOY to be had in standing up for Jesus and demonstrating His true character to a world that has turned unspeakably inside-out and upside-down. Let your Christianity be unmistakeable, not in a way that repels people, but in a way that draws them out and toward the true, living God.