The text for our consideration is the gospel lesson just read. There is a dark side to this stop on the journey with our Lord as He makes His way to Jerusalem and the cross. In what would otherwise have been another beautiful movement in the symphony, there’s an ‘off-note’ here that causes us to wince. There’s something that is just ‘not right’ here.
But the truth of the matter is, this account cannot be ‘fixed’ simply by demanding more ‘thankfulness.’ “Gratitude” that is forced because the Law demands it is no “gratitude” at all. Aristotle had it wrong. Good and faithful habits to not make good and faithful hearts. Luther had it right. Good and faithful hearts produce good and faithful habits.
And so we dare not miss what is good, and so full of light and harmony and heart-breaking joy in this account. This stop on the journey to Jerusalem features a miracle of restoration that Jesus does, simply by the sound of His voice – that same voice that spoke all things into existence in the beginning – that voice that called to you and me in our wretched and pitiable condition – that voice that worked a ‘restoration’ in us and ‘restored’ the ‘wretched men and women that we are’ into the ‘beautiful’ and ‘very good’ people of God that He created us to be.
“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’”
You’ve got to wonder what they expected Him to do. How many others had they lifted up their voices to who looked the other way as they walked right by them? Leprosy was a disfiguring disease that most civilized people don’t much like to see and they look away from.
I remember hearing the story about a Sunday School teacher who was trying to teach this story to her young class and after telling the story as best as she could, she asked the children, ‘so, what would you do if you saw 10 lepers along the road?’ One little boy raised his hand and answered, ‘teacher, if I saw 10 leopards along the road, I’d shoot them.’
Thankfully, that’s not how this encounter goes at all. Continue reading