Messiah Lutheran Church 6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634

November 2019

Your Greatest Need Has Been Met in Jesus!

Luke 17:11-19

Luther's Small Catechism explains the meaning of the introductory words of the Lord's prayer, "Our Father who art in heaven" as follows: "God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father." And just think how many needs your Heavenly Father has fulfilled for you in your lifetime! But, almost inevitably after God meets a need, we find ourselves coming back to Him with another need. No doubt, everyone who reads this article has unmet needs in their lives, both big and small.

The 10 lepers described in Luke 17 had a huge need! Their skin disease would start out small, beginning as little specks on the eyelids or on the palms of the hands. Soon, their skin would develop a scaly like appearance, accompanied by swelling and sores all over the body. And then the disease would attack one's tissues, bones and joints, penetrating to the very marrow of the bone, as the person's body would begin to slowly rot piece by piece: Attacking the lungs, one's organ of speech, hearing, and eyes, and ultimately resulting in a much-welcomed death.

During the time when Jesus walked the earth, the cure for leprosy was considered almost as impossible as raising someone from the dead! And to make matters even worse, if you had leprosy, it was assumed that you were being punished for your sins. Because it was a highly contagious disease, the lepers were cut off from society, forced to live outside of town. They weren't even allowed to be close enough to people to beg for food. Ragged, thin, and rejected, lepers were considered to be as good as dead!

But then along came Jesus! His miraculous works had been so amazing that even though the lepers lived in relative seclusion, they had heard about Him. So, seeing him from a distance, they cried out with a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!", desperately hoping He could meet their big need! We have an even greater need than the cure for leprosy: the cure for the deadly disease of sin! Like leprosy, sin that starts out small can grow and spread and affect our entire lives, causing us to be cut off from others and even worse from God. Sin can make us unclean and rotten, feeling like outcasts.

Romans 6:23 tells us that "The wages of sin is death", not only physical death but spiritual death as well. Sin can cause us to feel like we're as good as dead! Hence, Paul says in Romans 7:24, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" Jesus responded to the pleas of the lepers for mercy, by saying in verse 14, "Go, show yourselves to the priests. According to Levitical law, the priests were to determine whether one was cured of a disease or infection, and then make it known publicly among the people!

By faith, nine of the men returned to their hometowns to be declared clean of leprosy by their local priest. And as they were on their way, "they were cleansed". No doubt, these nine lepers were thankful that they had healed of such a dreaded disease by Jesus. Nevertheless, they forgot to return and give thanks to the source of their healing! But one of the lepers returned immediately to Jesus after he discover he was healed, praising God in a loud voice. "He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him --- and he was a Samaritan", a despised enemy of the Jews!

The Samaritan had his own priest to go to and yet upon being healed, he returned to Jesus, recognizing him as the great high priest that the sacrifices in the book of Moses had been foreshadowing. Consequently, Jesus declared him clean, saying to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well". Unlike the other priests, Jesus did not need to offer sacrifices for the sins of people over and over again. Instead, He would provide the once and for all sacrifice for sins when He offered up His life on the cross as the sinless lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. As 1 John 2:2 tells us, "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world".

To the Samaritan, Jesus was not just a healer of his body but the healer of his soul. The Greek word used for "well" conveys the meaning of being perfectly whole. And so, we can assume that the Samaritan leper was made perfectly whole, as a forgiven child of God. As far as we know, the other lepers only received a temporary healing. But in the case of the Samaritan leper, his healing would last for an eternity!

The expression, "everything else is gravy", is a fitting expression for this month of November when we traditionally feast on turkey, mashed potatoes and a variety of additional foods on Thanksgiving. As long as you have the meat and potatoes; the gravy is an added bonus. Jesus Christ through his substitutionary death on the cross has fulfilled our most essential need, providing healing from the deadly disease of sin. Therefore, all the other blessings we have been given in life can be considered gravy!

May we never take the ultimate blessing we have received in our forgiveness in Christ for granted, but like this Samaritan when healed of his leprosy, praise God with a loud voice, throwing ourselves at the feet of Jesus and thanking him for making us whole through His blood shed on the cross. On this special month of thanks, may the words of David in Psalm 51: 12 be realized in our lives, that the joy of our salvation would be restored!

As a dear child prays to their dear father, pray to your Heavenly Father to fulfill all your needs and gives thanks for the cornucopia of blessings He has given you. Above all, give thanks to your Heavenly Father for giving you the greatest gift of them all, Jesus your high priest who has made you whole! For as Romans 8:32 assures us, "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how well he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Oh, Give thanks unto the Lord for He is good!

Thanking God for you!
Pastor Wendt

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