This will be a most significant study, and I am sure that each of us will find ourselves in it. It goes without saying that the miracle in Luke 17:11-19 is one of the most astounding miracles ever performed by Jesus Christ. But even more astounding were the reactions in the lives of those who were once ten dying men, but suddenly became ten healed men and now fully alive! One moment they were facing death, and then having been gloriously healed, 9 of the 10 turned their faces away from and their backs on Jesus their Healer.
The setting was this! Ten men were living together in a leper colony cut off from society. The public was afraid of their shadows, let alone their touch. Their plight – all of them had the deadly and contagious disease called leprosy. Today we have the awful “C” word – cancer. Back then, they had the awful “L” word – leprosy. Frankly it was a death sentence. The flesh rotted off from the leper’s bones, and the bones from their bodies.
It would start with a patch of skin on a person’s body that became discolored and numb. Often on a leper’s face, that discolored patch would spread and grow into a thick glossy tumor or welt. The disease would then spread to the extremities, and eat away fingers and toes as they shrank into uselessness. The disease would progress inwardly, often affecting the larynx as the voice would gravel and grovel. The disease literally consumed the leper over a period of time.
No doubt, of equal torment, were the religious and social side effects, adding unthinkable insult to injury! The leper was considered ceremonially unclean and therefore unfit to worship in the temple. The priest according to Leviticus 13:11 pronounced the leper unclean and isolated him. Here we have ten of them in that ostracized existence. And when anyone approached them, they had to warn them with what was left of their voices by crying out, “Unclean, Unclean!” (Leviticus 13:45) They were social outcasts, and no longer could they feel a friend’s embrace, a child’s hug, or a wife’s kiss.
Then one day, Jesus Christ passed their way. They had heard of His coming, and they knew of His reputation. In the neighborhood of a certain village Jesus encountered this spectacle. Whey they saw Christ, they cried out, “Unclean, Unclean,” but this time adding to their self-effacing cry, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” (Luke 17:13)
Jesus saw them, and without delay told them, while they were yet leprous, to go show themselves to the priest. For you see, if anyone was ever healed of leprosy, they had to get clearance from the religious authority before they reentered society. Only this time they were told to go to the priest before they were healed. They obeyed Jesus! Good idea! And we read in Luke 17:14,
“…And it came about that as they were going, they were cleansed.”
All ten of them! Totally healed and restored! Able to shake hands with their neighbors, hold their children, and embrace their wives if they had remained true to their terminally-ill husbands.
Then according to the Biblical account, nine of the ten walked away and never returned to give thanks to Jesus and glory to God. I am sure you have heard of the phrase, “I owe him a debt of gratitude.” Gratitude owed is indeed a debt. This means that those who do not pay the debt are common thieves! These guys were in the debt of gratitude over their healed ears. Only one came back to pay his debt and thank his miracle-working Benefactor.
It is a common maxim of decency that a man should positively do as he was positively done by. Nine didn’t! One moment as good as dead! The next moment, fully healed, whole and alive! Jesus Himself is shocked as He stands there like a 9-time jilted lover and says in Luke 17:17-18,
“Were there not ten cleansed, but the nine – where are they? Was no one found who
turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?”
For you see, the nine unthinkable ingrates were Jews, children of the covenant and God’s chosen people. The one who came back and fell on his face at Jesus’ feet giving Him glory was a stranger, a Samaritan, a half-breed. How could it be? It can’t be true! And yet it is! It is more unbelievable than the miracle!
Let’s do this! Let’s interview each one of the ungrateful but healed wretches, and get some kind of grip on this otherwise incredible story of the 9 hit-and-run ex-lepers who hit on Jesus for healing and ran away from Him never to return. And then, coming to understand their behavior, we might have a better understanding of our own behavior, for according to Biblical mathematics, 9 out of 10 of us could well be in this story too.
1. Mr. Religious Presumption
“I Didn’t Thank Jesus Because He Was Simply Doing His Job”
Healed leper # 1 is all smiles and really celebrating his new life. He is particularly struck by how people no longer run away from him. He feels like a normal human being again, which he almost forgot as to what it actually felt like. He is ecstatic!
Then when asked why he didn’t go back and thank his miracle-working Benefactor for this gigantic deliverance, he responds by saying, “It never occurred to me to say thank you to someone who is doing what he is supposed to be doing. After all, this Jesus is a healer, that is His profession, and you don’t say thanks to people who are doing their job.” Oh, you mean that He is in the healing business? He responds, “Yes, you could put it that way I suppose.”
We do the same thing to doctors after successful surgery. It is only the tenth person who sends a note of gratitude to the doctors and nurses. If the surgery is successful, the surgeon was doing his job. If the surgery was not successful or ran into life-altering complications, he gets sued.
Well now, I have heard it said again and again in certain circles that Jesus is in the healing business. I have heard it from pastors on the pulpit, and from parishioners in the pews. Jesus is simply doing what He is programmed to do. I ask, “Programmed by whom?” You see, then Jesus is nothing more than a machine functioning with automatic precision. When He is turned on by faith, He goes to work and performs. Listen to Him hum! Wow! What a performer! What a dynamo! Guaranteed or your money back. Lifetime warranty!
It is religious presumption at it worse. When Jesus does His job, He is then ignored, i.e. presumed upon. When He doesn’t perform according to His man-made job description and machine manual, then He is doubted and even shunned. Ignored if He does, and damned if He doesn’t. Certainly not thanked, for nothing destroys the heart of gratitude like religious presumption. Even though before this leper was groveling in the dust, yet now he throws the dirt of thanklessness in Jesus’ face. He forgot about Jesus as soon as he was healed.
By the way, Jesus doesn’t have any job! He is not in the healing business, which is a sick phrase that needs to die and be buried. Saving and healing people is not His job! God is not the church’s employee! God doesn’t have to do anything, and He doesn’t have to heal or save anyone. Everything that He does is by grace, that is, His amazing unmerited favor, and not according to some denominational or far-out religious fringe group’s job description designed for Him.
As God states in John 1:16,
“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.”
That’s all of us! All the time! Everything we are blessed with is divine grace. He just keeps on grace-giving and we continue to live all of our days in unmerited receiving. The amazing goodness conferred upon these nine ingrates is more amazing still when we realize that they had no claim or right to the free gift. But they thought they did!
In modern times it has been carried a step further. One gets the weird feeling in many of today’s church environments that there is a presupposed equality between the Divine Conferrer and the Human Conferees. Well known figures such as Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland have taught over the years that believers are little gods. God and the gods! You know, share and share alike. In historic Biblical Christianity all blessings begin with God and descend to undeserving man, and all gratitude ascends from blessed man to the deserving God. Not anymore! Now it is God and the gods sharing in Divine goods and services on the same level. None of this up and down stuff anymore! Now it is same level Christianity.
From such heretical teachings many believers view themselves has having transcendent worth as well as having a right to all things. After all, if they are little gods, they should be treated by the big God as such. In this delusional world of theirs, they simply presume that healing, health and wealth are all theirs by divine right. After all, if you are gods, it is assumed that you should live like it.
You see, the religious presumption that is so rampant today not only takes the ‘amazing’ out of ‘grace,’ but the ‘grate’ out of ‘gratitude.’ It in effect kills it. That is why many modern churches do not sing anymore, nor anything close to it. Amazing Grace is one of the most thanksgiving saturated and motivated hymns ever written or sung. It was not infected with the deadly virus of religious presumption. Be assured of this:
“THAT WHERE GRACE IS EXPERIENCED GRATITUDE WILL FOLLOW, BUT WHERE
THERE IS LITTLE OR NO GRATITUDE, GRACE HAS NOT BEEN EXPERIENCED.”
Maybe this will shed some light on the shocking no-show and no-thanks of healed leper #1. Who were these nine lepers anyway? They were Jews, sons of the covenant, the sons of Abraham. They were the ones – the chosen people of God. You know, just like our kids! They develop the same thing in relationship to their parents. After all, they are their parent’s heartthrobs, and the parents have to take care of them. They are the ones! They presume upon mother that the clothes will be hung neatly and clean in the closets, and the meals will be prepared on time and tasty. They presume that Dad will be there to always pony up the bucks when needed as He always has. What are Dads for after all? Kids are often spoiled rotten today. The result is that they are kept immature and presumptuous all their life long.
So too, the longer you are in religion, the greater the temptation there is to fall into the sin of religious presumption toward your Heavenly Father. Especially in America, Christians have been spoiled rotten. Yes, God’s kids! They can begin to feel that they got it all coming to them too. I think North American Christians must all pray David’s prayer in Psalm 19:13 constantly,
“Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me….”
Healed leper #1 had leprosy in his body, but he had the gangrene of religious presumption in his soul, and the latter is far more difficult to cure than the former. Religious presumption leaves the heart incapable of any true impression of gratitude. That is why when mercy took away the leper’s misery he had no capacity to marvel at the Master’s goodness.
Then add to the mix that today there are many groups in modern Christianity that teach, preach and practice a completely “Presumptive Theology.” The itching ears of multitudes love it when they hear that having enough faith and giving enough money to TV ministries automatically secures for them the blessings of God. In other words, when we serve God, He serves us! That’s how it works today! That’s the deal! Investment giving, not mercies falling!
Bible-faith prayers trust in God to move in our lives to meet our needs, while faith-presumptive prayers trust in themselves to move God to give us our wants. Nothing will kill deep thankfulness to God quicker than today’s give-to-get and name-it-claim-it presumptive religious environments. It is a modern day plague!
Christians are overwhelmed with the fact that they can never do enough for God, considering all that He has done for them in Christ. The religiously presumptive are convinced that God will and must do for them after all that they have done and given to God.
The voice of the religious presumptive is “Give, Give,” but once they receive they are like pigs at the trough who when they are filled are silent, stop their grunting, and lie down to sleep in their good fortune. As one has said,
“THE UNGRATEFUL PERSON IS A MONSTER THAT IS ALL MOUTH AND
BELLY BUT NO HEART.”
Religious Presumption! The story is told of a farmer who went into the city which he seldom did. He went into one of those ritzy restaurants, and before he ate, he bowed his head and gave thanks to God. Sitting near him were a bunch of young businessmen, and they were snickering as they watched him. One of them looking jeeringly at him and said, “Hey old man, I suppose everybody does that where you come from.” The farmer looked at the young man and said, “No son, the pigs don’t.”
2. Mr. Silent Reserved
“I’m The Quiet Reserved Type, Not Good At Expressing Myself.”
Mr. Healed Leper #2 also looks terrific. A great big smile all over his now healed and whole face! Bones are now there where there were only grotesque stubs, and flesh where there was only disfigurement! An astounding figure to behold! We ask him, “Sir, why didn’t you go back and thank Jesus for your healing and deliverance? After all, most leprosy victims just go away, rot and die. But here you are now in the fullness of health and strength with a whole new lease on life. How could you have been so neglectful not only of religious principles, but even of proper etiquette?” His response, “I am the withdrawn and silent type, and I am no good at making pretty speeches. I am grateful to Him, but I just didn’t say it. I felt He would understand.”
Yah, sure! First of all, to return anything near equivalent thanks in this case would not have been possible. However, if the most forlorn and poverty stricken widow has her two mites to give, certainly the most tongue-tied person has two words to speak – thank you! Who are we kidding here? Nobody! The hands that were rotting and deformed but are now whole and sound certainly could at the least be lifted up to the Lord in gratitude.
Secondly, strange but often true, that same silent guy in the church, or in the world for that matter, who cannot wrap his tongue around a compliment yet becomes absolutely vocal and verbose when it comes to complaining and faultfinding. Watch out for those who cannot be affirming! My experience is that they will get you sooner or later.
Much of their talk is 3D talk – discouraging, disparaging, and downgrading. They are the sour notes in the symphony of life. They cannot be positive, just negative! Even when they start out with compliments about someone, they still manage to slip in some snide remark to make sure that the one they are talking about certainly is not all that he or she was cracked up to be. When they are finished talking, everything and everyone has been reduced to half of their original size. But it doesn’t change the fact that Jesus’ words echo down through the ungrateful ages, “Were there not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was not one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
Look at it another way. I don’t buy into this silent type stuff. The fact is this, that whenever or wherever you meet an ungrateful person, be assured of this that deep in his or her heart, there is no true sense of God in that person. Do you remember the words of the Apostle John in I John 4:20,
“…for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God
whom he has not seen.”
The same is true with gratitude. If anyone shows no sense of gratefulness to those who he sees showing him all sorts of kindnesses in his life, you can count on it that that same person will have even less of a sense of gratitude for all of the blessings of God Who he cannot see.
It isn’t that he is the quiet and reserved type. He is just flat out an ungrateful wretch whose ingratitude is even sicker than his leprosy ever was. He is the type of person who will complain to the waitress if his food is not exactly the way he wants it. But if it is up to his demands, he says nothing. The ungrateful person is really the only one or thing on earth because of whom no one else living in earth or in Heaven is any the better. When you show kindness to such a person, it is like sowing good seed in dry sand. It makes no impression, and produces no fruit. By this time the silent type is becoming irritated and vocal, I assure you.
We read in Psalm 107:1-2,
“Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Let the
redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from
the hand of the adversary.”
Let the redeemed say so! They cannot help but tell everyone they see, because they want them to come into this glorious salvation in Christ Jesus too. They give constant thanks to the Lord for He is good!
You know the old saying, “Where the heart is full, the mouth runs over.” Gratitude alone brings the heart into the mouth. The ungrateful person is never full, and his mouth never runs over with thanksgiving. The redeemed alone have the new song of salvation! They are the only ones who can sing it. As the Psalmist David wrote in Psalm 40:3,
“And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God….”
Singing that new song keeps them new as well! The merely healed do not. If healed leper #2 had any religion to start with, you can be assured that it eventually withered, just as the leprosy had withered him before. No man’s religion can survive his ingratitude. From there onward it is all downhill. (Romans1:21-32)
There is as vast a difference between saving faith and miraculous faith, as there is between salvation and healing. The first reaches deep into the soul. The second reaches only into the body. The first regenerates, while the second only relieves and revives. The first follows after Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins, while the second follows Jesus around for multiplied loaves and healed limbs. Healing removes sickness, while salvation removes sins. Healing extends temporal life on earth, while salvation gives eternal life in Heaven.
Healing faith may cleanse leprosy from hands, but salvation faith raises those hands heavenward in thanksgiving to God. Healing faith attaches people to the gift, while salvation faith alone attaches people to the Giver.
There is no possibility of being truly saved and not throwing oneself at the feet of Jesus in praise and thanksgiving. However, I have seen people healed of diseases over the years, and many of them were the same afterwards as they were before – thankless and Godless! God hears the cry for mercy even of the unsaved, and He heals them. Why?:
“Because the Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are
over all His works.” (Psalm 145:9)
It is His common goodness! It is His universal tender mercy!
Jesus is the Healer! I was healed of polio when I was a sophomore in high school. Many prayers went up to the throne of grace on my behalf, as I laid there surrounded by the sound of pumping iron lungs in nearby hospital rooms. I went into the hospital weighing 158 pounds. Then I began to waste away. The doctors were waiting for the paralysis to set in, but it never did.
Then after many weeks, the 105 degree temperature miraculously broke. I sweat the bed wet, and I was healed. I went home weighing 118 pounds. I can still to this day see my parents standing in the doorway of my hospital room night after night wearing caps, gowns, gloves and booties, and looking to me like creatures from outer space. They could not come into my room. There they stood, weeping and praying. Their prayers were answered.
I was saved a few years later. God kept me alive so He could redeem me. His plan worked. Hallelujah! In fact it was only after the Lord Jesus saved me from my sin that I began to testify about my salvation and my healing. I was saved from the sin of keeping quiet about Jesus as well. Now I have said so all over the world.
We must see this episode of the ten lepers in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The heart of the true Gospel of Jesus has been lost today. There are all kinds of false gospels these days, quite unlike anything I have ever seen before in my lifetime. The heart of the Gospel is given to us in I Corinthians 15:3-4,
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for
our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He
was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Even as the human heart has two major functioning sides, so does the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even as the right side of the human heart pumps the blood to and from the lungs for the purpose of purification, so the heart of the Gospel pumps the blood of Jesus Christ through the soul of believer for the purpose of purification. Otherwise he would be smothered in sewage. Even as the human heart’s left side is busy circulating the purified blood throughout the rest of the body for nourishment and life, so the heart of the Gospel pumps the blood of the crucified and the risen Christ through the soul of the believer for renewed spiritual life and vitality day by day.
Without the heart of the Gospel, Christianity will and is already suffering heart failure. Without the heart of the Gospel, man’s heart will not be full of life-sustaining gratitude. What is being preached today is a candy cane health-and-wealth-gospel which is giving multitudes of people congestive heart disease. Their spiritual hearts will fail them!
3. Mr. Unconvinced Coincidence
“I Am Not Sure That He Did It. It Could Have Been Mere Coincidence.”
This fellow’s attitude is more amazing than the miracle that he received. So we ask him, “Sir, why didn’t you go back to Jesus and express your gratitude to Him? After all, one moment your flesh was rotting. You were loathsome to people, and they wouldn’t even come near you. And now you are back in the mainstream of society. You are embraced by your loved ones, for you are whole, clean, and pure.”
He answers and says, “I wasn’t sure that He did it. I know I was there in that leper colony. I know that we cried out to Jesus simultaneously, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ I know that He told us to go to the priest and that all of us obeyed His command. And as we did, our bodies were instantly healed, and the bones came back with perfectly formed flesh on them. But you have to be cautious, because it could have been pure coincidence.”
Not much sense in talking to this fellow. He and those like him will subscribe to luck, chance, fate, fortune, science, nature and whatever else before they admit that they looking at God right in the face and seeing Him manifesting His love and power. As strange as it might sound, Jesus met this spirit throughout His ministry.
I recall the story of the nobleman from Capernaum whose son was sick and near the door of death. He asked Jesus to go to his son and heal him before he died. Jesus told him to go his way, and that his son was well and alive. When he arrived home and found his son in the pink of health, he asked his servants as to the exact hour that his son was raised from his deathbed. They said to him,
“Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.”
So the father then and only then believed that Jesus had done it. Just seeing his dying son well was not enough to convince him. (John 4:46-54)
Then of course there was doubting Thomas who had been with Jesus during His earthly ministry and had seen Him heal the sick and raise the dead. But when it came to believing the eye-witness reports of Jesus’ resurrection he would not believe until he examined the nail prints in Christ’s hands, and actually put his finger into them, as well as putting his hand into the side wound of Christ. Seeing was not enough for Thomas. He had to feel with his hands!
The cry of God comes down through the ages from the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 5:4&12,
“What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?…And their
banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by
wine; but they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord, nor do they
consider the work of His hands.”
I well recall my first altar call for salvation in my second pastorate. I couldn’t endure anymore simply preaching the Gospel of salvation and not giving people the opportunity to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior then and there. When I first gave them the opportunity, a young woman came forward to commit her life to Christ. I was approached, or should I say attacked by the elders afterwards who asked me if I had set this thing up with her to make me look good. In other words, did I arrange it? Enough said!
We all by nature are controlled primarily by the five senses. Faith builds upon another world, and the senses build upon this world. Faith is built upon the intangible, while the senses are built upon the tangible. We are commanded in the Bible to walk by faith and not by sight. (II Corinthians 5:7)
Plus, the senses have a ferocious appetite. They need constant feeding in order to be satisfied. We have been told over the years that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. By the same token, a miracle a day keeps doubt away in the sense-controlled person. Maybe more than one a day is required, for the healed leper #3 fell into doubt on the same day.
It reminds me of the intriguing story of when Jesus and the disciples were in a boat together, and the disciples noticed they had taken only one loaf of bread on board for the whole lot of them. (Mark 8:14-21) It became a point of anxious discussion among the disciples that there was not enough bread for everyone. The Master of course heard their discussion and saw their upset. Jesus then asked them a couple of embarrassing questions. Such as,
“And do you remember when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many
baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?”
They responded, “Twelve.” Then He asked them
“And when I broke seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of
broken pieces did you pick up?”
And they said to Him, “Seven.” And then He asked them,
“Do you not yet understand?”
Understand what? Had they forgotten to be sensitive to what they had seen with their own eyes? If Jesus could feed the four and five thousand with multiple leftovers, couldn’t He take care of their needs right there in the boat? There wasn’t enough bread to go around in the feeding of the thousands, and yet there was more than enough when He fed those hungry multitudes. And there were His disciples all bent out of shape about one loaf. But you see, the miracle feedings of the four and five thousand were so long ago by now, and had faded away no doubt into some hazy and coincidental thinking.
What sense-controlled disciples needed was fresh baked bread from the Master’s miracle oven right there in the boat! Today! Everyday! They needed right then and there to see, feel, smell and taste again the Master’s signature bread provided by the force of unnatural agencies and causes. I guess we could say that the only way the sense-controlled religious person can be kept from unconvinced and coincidental thinking is a daily supply of Christ’s “Wonder-Bread.”
But even then, it would not produce lasting conviction. If it isn’t written off to coincidence, it is assigned to conjuring. When Jesus cast out demons from people again and again, the religious ones of His day said that He cast out devils by the prince of the devils. (Matthew 12:24) It didn’t prove to them that He was the Son of God. Rather they looked upon Jesus as a conjurer and as one who was in cahoots with a potent evil spirit or power, by whose force Christ overpowered the rest of the demon world. Sort of an inter-demon warfare among opposing demonic factions in the dark spirit world, and one of them was using Christ to get the edge over the others. You know, Jesus was the hit man in the ongoing struggle for demonic supremacy in the underworld. Amazing!
The only thing that will convict some people of Christ’s resurrection is their own resurrection one day, as they are raised up to stand in the judgment before the judgment seat of Christ. Only then will they be convinced, though it will be too late for them to be converted. Faith, not sight, brings the conviction of things not seen, and the substance of things hoped for. (Hebrews 11:1) Only faith can save sense-bound humanity.
4. Mr. Fearful Self-Preserver
“Jesus Is So Controversial! After All, Discretion Is The Better Part Of Valor”
We have located Healed Leper #4. And so we ask him, “Sir, what is your reason? Why didn’t you go back and say thanks to Jesus for such an incredible and merciful healing? He responds by saying, “Well, let me be frank with you, I was afraid that if I returned and identified with Him and expressed my gratitude to Him, I could get in big trouble with the authorities. After all, this Jesus is not a licensed practitioner, is He? He might have been a quack with no recognized standing or medical certificate. Furthermore, I know that the Scribes and the Pharisees are very opposed to Him. I can tell that the opposition to Him is mounting. And it seemed the wisest course of action was to simply accept what He had to give and keep quiet about it. There is no sense in sticking your neck out. I thought it best to just hide somewhere for a while.”
He was not alone! Still isn’t! We read for instance about, mind you, several members of the Sanhedrin which was the Jewish ruling body of that day. Some of them were defectors and actually believed in Jesus, but because of the Pharisees they did not publicly confess their faith in Christ for fear of being kicked out of the Sanhedrin and the synagogues. In short, they sought the approval of men over their approval from God. (John 12:42-43)
Or again, there is the remarkable story of the parents of the son who was born blind, which is recorded for us in John 9. This totally blind son, also a beggar and known as such in the community, was healed by Jesus Who mixed His spit with clay and put the clay balls on the boy’s eye sockets. Some interpret that to mean that there were no eyes in those orbs. The young man came forth with eyeballs and fully sighted.
The Pharisees who hated Jesus for several reasons, which is another study in itself, asked the parents in John 9:19,
“…Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?”
They answered in John 9:20-21,
“…We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now sees,
we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he
is of age, he shall speak for himself.”
Why did they say those things when they knew fully well Who healed their son and how? John 9:22 tells us flat out,
“His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already
agreed, that if anyone should confess Him to be Christ, he should
be put out of the synagogue.”
How often have we stood by hearing the most unchristian opinion or viewpoint being expressed, and yet we made no public protest? Or again, how often have we stood by, knowing that a certain individual by his language and attitude was not a Christian, and yet we were afraid to witness for Jesus. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 12:30,
“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”
Meaning that either we are actively gathering people to Jesus, or if we are not gathering them, we are then scattering them away from Him. This is not multiple choice, but either-or.
I recall the small church in which I did a crusade on several evenings. There was only one person saved that week, and he was brought by another evangelist. I challenged the church members to bring their unsaved friends and neighbors. I remember the parishioner who came to me and said, “I don’t know any non-Christians.” I wonder if he had ever been to the local 7-11? Sure you know unbelievers, but do they know you, and what you stand for, and how much Christ loves you, and what He did for you? How much He loves them and what He has accomplished for them! If not, we are scattering them.
The truth is, outside of God fear governs all things. Let fear rule and it will carry everything and everyone with it.
“FEAR IS THE DEVIL’S DEPUTY.”
Fear of human rejection. Fear of human scorn. Fear of human wrath. Fear of human injury. Fear makes all of these threats bigger than God. Fear then completely blocks gratitude. Fear supplants grateful devotion.
In short, fear breaks the grateful rhythm of life. You know, one good turn deserves another. You can see that rhythm of gratitude everywhere! It is the fabric of life. That rhythm of gratitude is seen in the child toward his parents as he loves and honors them in grateful response to their supplying his well being and protecting him. So too the rhythm of gratitude is heard in the words of the Psalmist when he out of overwhelming gratitude to God for all of His generous and unconstrained blessings asks himself in Psalm 116:12,
“What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?”
If anyone should have gotten hopelessly carried away in the rhythm of gratitude, it is Healed Leper Number #4 and all of his miserable buddies. But fear here breaks that cycle.
“EVEN AS THE SENSE-BOUND PERSON IS MIRACLE PROOF, SO THE FEAR
BOUND PERSON IS GRATITUDE PROOF.”
The lovingkindness of Jesus cannot reach his fear-filled heart.
We must ask, “How far will grateful devotion to Jesus carry a disciple?” Missionary Jim Elliot, along with four other young missionaries, made contact with the Auca Indians. They knew that they were Aucas because the Aucas were the only Indians in Ecuador who were stark naked. They also were killers – they always killed outsiders. Finally having made contact at a distance, the five young men landed their airplane near them. As they landed, the Aucas came toward them with spears. Through a tape recording in that plane, we know what they were thinking by their recorded words, “We have guns. We can kill them. But if we kill them, they will go to Hell. So we fired our guns in the air.” All five men were killed.
You ask, “Did you say that they were young? Missionaries are not usually young, are they?” Oh yes, God’s courageous ambassadors come in all sizes and all ages. They were in their late 20s or early 30s. They were all married. They all had children. Imagine sacrificing your life, and shooting up in the air when you could defend yourselves. And all for one reason: “If we kill them they will go to Hell.” It was unstated but understood: “If we die, we will go to Heaven.”
It is so wonderful to know that the killers of the young missionaries and other members of the Auca Tribe later became Christians. It all fulfilled the very words that Jim Elliot had written in his diary:
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
The Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God is indeed stronger than the spears of savage killers. God calls all of us to lay down our lives for His Son. But fear will stop gratitude to Christ for His great salvation from denying self and living for Christ. As someone commented about Jim Elliot, “Jim died long before he was killed.” Died to self! Fully and gratefully alive in and for Christ! The five missionaries considered it their sacred duty to die that others might live. The most sacred duties that Christians carry out are founded upon gratitude to Christ. Grateful love and devotion to Jesus will always outbrave fear in every circumstance.
5. Mr. No Obligation
“If I Went Back To Say Thanks, Jesus Might Put Me Under Obligation To Him”
This is huge! So we ask Healed Leper #5, “Sir, why didn’t you back to Jesus Christ and simply express a word of thanks to Him? After all, that is the least you could have done.” He responds, “Well you know, I really thought about it. I am just so overjoyed what He did for all of us. We were as good as dead, and now we are fully alive. But my concern was that if I did return to express thanks to Him, He would put me under some sort of obligation to him. He might expect me to do something in return, and it is very awkward to refuse people who you are indebted to. My rule in life has always been to never give people the idea that you owe them something.”
At the outset here it reminds me of the story of the chicken and the pig. They were feeding one day together on a Sunday morning. As they were meandering, the chicken looking at a nearby church said to the pig, “You know, over the years those people who attend that church have been very good to us. So often they would stop by and give both of us something to eat. Such friendly and caring folks! I think that we ought to do something nice for them.” The pig replied, “Good idea! What do you have in mind?” The chicken said, “I think we ought to put on a nice breakfast for them!” The pig replied, “I’m all for that! What did you have in mind?” The chicken said, “Let’s serve them bacon and eggs.” The pig being very offended sneered at his chicken friend and said,
“Not on your life. For you that is merely a contribution. For me that is total commitment.”
This has been the stumbling block for countless people throughout the ages. They want Jesus as their healer but not as their Master.
“THEY WANT THE BLESSING OF HIS SACRIFICE FOR THEIR SINS, BUT THEY DO
NOT WANT TO SUBMIT TO THE RULE OF HIS SCEPTER.”
Priesthood without Kingship! Nothing new here! People by nature have always wanted a gospel that was hard on Jesus and easy on them. But easy things in religion are always the exception and not the rule.
It is because it has been preached out of order for years and years. It is because we did not live a life of obedience to the Sovereign Lord that we messed up our lives in sin in the first place, and needed a Savior to clean up and straighten out the mess. Lordship is not an after thought or even a secondary thought. It is a priority thought. Preachers have often preached that you cannot have Jesus as your Savior without also having Him as your Lord. That is merely a tag on Lordship. The fact of the matter is that we must embrace Jesus as the Lord and Savior of our lives.
“ONLY THOSE WHO BOW BEFORE HIS THRONE WILL SHARE IN THE BENEFITS
OF HIS CROSS.”
That is exactly what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 1:1 where he writes,
“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus….”
There it is! He views himself as His Lord’s servant and then as one who is saved by Christ Jesus. That is why over and over again Paul refers to Him as “The Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:2-3 etc)
“THE SAVIOR DID NOT COME TO EARTH TO BE OUR LORD, BUT THE LORD CAME
TO EARTH TO BE OUR SAVIOR.”
Healed Leper #5 did realize it, but he was under obligation to the Lord Jesus Christ long before he was healed.
But today, Healed Leper #5 doesn’t have to worry about Jesus Christ putting him under obligation to Him. We don’t have to sweat that anymore. Oh no, that was the old fashioned way of looking at God. But today, rampant within Charismatic circles is a totally new gospel, and one that is as false as a three dollar bill. What is it? Simply this, that God exists for us, and not that outmoded stuff of us existing for God. Even though the Bible makes it clear that we were created for God’s pleasure, and not He for ours. (Revelation 4:11) This false gospel has permeated much of modern American Christianity due to the influence of wacko media religion.
It is no longer that we serve the Lord Jesus Christ, but rather, we serve the “Magic Genie Jesus Christ.” Today’s Charismatic Christianity is captured so well by the following little poem:
GOD THE MAGIC GENIE, LIVING IN A BOTTLE OF DREAMS, I JUST RUB MY MAGIC
GENIE’S BOTTLE, AND HE COMES THROUGH FOR ME.GOD THE MAGIC GENIE
REIGNS,JUST SPEAK HIS NAME SUPREME; HE’S MY VERY
OWN GRAVY TRAIN, MY TRUSTY VENDING MACHINE.
This is the mythological figure that is being passed off on us by religious humanistic TV preachers and evangelists 7/24.
The church is no longer the loving and submitted Bride of Christ, but rather the church is Aladdin. The First Church of Aladdin has Genie-Jesus all bottled up in its magic lamp of dreams. If the Aladdin Church faith- rubs the lamp sufficiently, i.e. has enough strong rubbing-faith compound, then the Genie Jesus will be released from the faith lamp and grant the Aladdin Church whatever it wants. Then the Genie Jesus appears to the Aladdin Church and says, “What is your wish Master?”
Have you noticed? I have! The Aladdin Church doesn’t pray anymore. No, no, no! Aladdin Church prescribes, declares, pontificates and even commands God. I was watching television one day and on one of these charismaniac channels was an evangelist who pointed to Heaven and said, “I command you God!” It was like watching One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. I remember thinking as I heard this guy commanding God, “You better back off dude, God is the Commander, and you are the commandee, and He doesn’t take kindly to role reversals.” Nonetheless, what they have being passed off on the public as the God of Christianity is a “Clap On – Clap Off God.” In much of corrupted modern Christianity, man is no longer obligated to God, but God is obligated to man. It is at the heart of the apostate church.
Come Lord Jesus, come quickly! In the meantime, forgive us and lead us out of this heresy. You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and we are your humble servants. By Your precious shed blood, you have released us from the bondage of sin, shame and darkness, and brought us into your Kingdom of eternal peace, love and light. You alone have the royal and eternal prerogative to govern our wills, to command our steps, and to be Lord over every area of our lives. Yours is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory forever. Not ours! Never has been and never will be. We are Your loving subjects who count it their highest privilege and joy to be obligated to and by You. After showing us such unfathomable love and giving Your all for us, there is nothing that we would not do for You.
A pastor was traveling by train, and across from him were two men in their 30s. Twenty minutes out of the train station, one of the men stiffened and fell heavily to the floor as he went into a seizure. The friend quickly took off his jacket, rolled it up, and put it under his afflicted friend’s head. He talked to his seizure afflicted friend with calm, loving and gentle words the whole time. He wiped the stricken friend’s mouth and brow compassionately until the seizure was over.
The helpful companion said to the watchful pastor, “Excuse us Mister, but this happens two or three times a day. My buddy and I were in Vietnam together, and we both were wounded severely. I took five bullets in my legs, and he was hit in the shoulder and head. I couldn’t walk, and my buddy bleeding from the shoulder and head carried me for three days out of the jungle. Vietcong were sniping at us, and he was in more agony than I was. I begged Him to drop me and to save himself. But he would not let go and carried me all the way to safety. I don’t know how he did it, and I don’t know why he did it. Four years ago I found out that he had the condition of epilepsy. So I sold my house in New York, took my money and devoted my life to caring for him. You see Mister, after what he did for me, there isn’t anything that I wouldn’t do for him.”
(Please Go On To Pt.2)