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20th Sunday After Pentecost PDF Print E-mail

Luke 17:11-19 (Ruth 1:1-19a; 2 Timothy 2:1-13)
Jesus Has the Healing Touch
Rev. Gary Gehlbach

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Listen to the Psalmist describe the mercy of the Lord – My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house (Psalm 84:2, 4).

    With these words of Psalmist in mind, let us turn our attention to today’s Gospel where we meet ten men. Because of their leprosy, these men could not enter into the courts of the Lord. They could not have the comfort of being blessed by dwelling in the Lord’s house. Because of their leprosy, these men were separated from their people, family and friends. They became a people unto themselves with Jew and Samaritan dwelling together – in their own village of the damned. Because of their leprosy, their faith in the God of Israel was challenged and weakened. They were alone, apparently even abandoned by their God and denied by Him.

    Leprosy forced these men to live apart from the healthy people so they ended up living with other lepers in leper colonies. This group was held together by their leprosy. Even Jews and Samaritans, who normally would be mortal enemies, could live together because of this disease.

    Leprosy was their common fate. Death was their common destiny. Separation was their common life. It is said that “misery loves company”. Indeed, this was a miserable group with a miserable life.

    Yet, we can return to St. Paul’s confession - If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim 2:13). These lepers had the Lord’s word to Moses and Joshua - I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you (Deut 31:6; Jos 1:5).

    There are these ten lepers in their misery. And who should come to them? – Jesus, God-in-the-flesh. When they begin to approach, He does not turn from them or send them away. Christ came to receive sinners and welcome them (Lu 15:2). He came for the sick who need a physician (Lu 5:31). Indeed, these lepers epitomized sin and sickness.

    Christ is God who does not leave or forsake His children. Christ came to bear their sin – yes, even their leprosy. In His pure, holy, undefiled flesh, Christ bore their impure, unholy, and defiled flesh. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us. And so, they cry out to One who remains faithful and who cannot deny Himself, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!

    Jesus responds to their plea for mercy by saying, Go show yourselves to the priests. With these words, he restored them to health. Their sickness was healed; their impurity, cleansed; their defilement, purged; their sin, forgiven. They were healed in soul and body. Our Lord sends them to the priests, so that the priests could confirm that these men were as Christ made them – Clean!

    This account of the ten lepers not only reveals Christ’s mercy to these lepers, but it speaks to you and me. We may not have physical leprosy, but we all have our spiritual leprosy

    You and I are in the leprosy of sin and death, separated from God and from one another. At creation, the Triune God made all things and, indeed, it was very good. There was no sickness or death, no separation or loneliness. The leprosy we carry is not visible to the eye of the world, but it clearly visible to the eye of God.

    The Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – sees into your most inward thoughts and desires. All the bandages and make-up in the world cannot hide our condition from God. And God reveals our true condition to us – you are a sinner, corrupt to your very core, deserving of His temporal and eternal punishment.

    With all of our outward differences – age, skin-color, height, wealth, and the like, we all have one thing in common with all other people – sin. We are sinners. Sin is the bond that holds us together. Sin is our common fate; eternal death is our common destiny; separation from God our common life.

    You are separated from God, your Creator; yet He does not abandon you. He does not leave you or forsake you. He comes to you, clothed in your flesh and bearing your sin. He does not drive sinners away, but draws all people, all sinners, to Himself. Jesus receives sinners because He has been made one with us – God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. And so, you and I cry out, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!

    Like unto the lepers, Christ responds to you – Your sins are forgiven you. Even as the lepers were healed by Christ’s word to them, you are forgiven by Christ’s word to you. JESUS HAS THE HEALING TOUCH with His Word!

    You and I cannot heal ourselves, but Christ Himself has provided and will continue to provide the healing of body and soul. JESUS HAS THE HEALING TOUCH!

    It is Jesus’ sacrifice which cleanses you of all iniquity. It is His death which has defeated death. It is His resurrection which gives you eternal healing and new life. It is His blood which purifies you from all unrighteousness. It is His voice which declares you clean – your sins which are many are forgiven you. JESUS HAS THE HEALING TOUCH!

    Our Lord and God has taken you out of the fellowship of sin and death and places you into the fellowship of forgiveness and life. He unites Himself wit you in His flesh as He gives you His flesh and blood to eat and to drink in the Lord’s Supper. Do not think that you consume Christ in the Lord’s Supper, but truly it is He who consumes you. His body and blood purge away your sinful desires and your lusts of the flesh. His body and blood give you His righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. In union with Christ, you have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires (Gal 5:24).

He has touched your flesh with His own flesh. He has touched your flesh with the purifying washing of His healing blood. He has touched your lips with His flesh and blood. He has touched your ears as He speaks to you those comforting words - Your sins are forgiven

1.    Come to Calv’ry's holy mountain,
       Sinners, ruined by the Fall;
       Here a pure and healing fountain
       Flows for you, for me, for all,
       In a full, perpetual tide,
       Opened when our Savior died.
2.     Come in poverty and meanness,
        Come defiled, without, within;
        From infection and uncleanness,
        From the leprosy of sin,
        Wash your robes and make them white;
         Ye shall walk with God in light.
   The blood of Christ is the bond that now holds us together. Forgiveness is our common fate; eternal life and salvation, our common destiny; fellowship with the true God and with one another, our common life. This is the bond that holds us together – forgiveness, life, and salvation in the blood of Jesus Christ.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus until life everlasting. Amen.


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