Luke 17:11-19 The Ten Lepers
Vicar Paul Rockrohr


Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.


“Arise and go your way; your faith has saved you.” What wonderful words of comfort Jesus gives to this Samaritan! Yet these words carry much more significance than simply saying your faith has cured your leprosy. No doubt, that would be something beautiful to hear, that a terminal illness that meant certain and humiliating death was cured. After all leprosy is a terribly disfiguring disease, and at that time if you contracted it you were basically a walking dead man.


Separated from your family and excluded from coming to the temple to worship God in His house, it could not get much worse than this. Most other diseases and conditions there was still care from the family, human touch. There was still the possibility to hearing the Word of God and coming into His presence. But not for these ten lepers, there is no comfort to find outside of death. Entirely dependent on the gifts of food and clothing left at a distance by family and friends, they could do nothing but watch as their flesh decayed and even fell off their bodies.


Is it any wonder that they would cry out when they saw Jesus? “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” This urgent plea is nothing other than a true confession of who Jesus is, the Son of God. It is a penitential prayer begging for mercy, recognizing that He is truly the Master of all things. These lepers are saying to Jesus, “You have power over all things, you have the right and authority to make us clean again. You have the right and authority to allow us back into the temple, to have fellowship with God!”  This plea for mercy is a plea for grace, that Jesus would make them clean, both ceremonially (and we can understand this as spiritually) clean and physically clean. Man cannot enter into the presence of God without having his sins atoned for. If you cannot even go to make the sacrifices that would give forgiveness, from where do you receive grace? These men recognize Jesus as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, who takes away their sin and gives them peace with God

SERMON FOR PENTECOST 21: OCT. 13, 2013
Luke 17:11-19 The Ten Lepers
Vicar Paul Rockrohr


Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.


“Arise and go your way; your faith has saved you.” What wonderful words of comfort Jesus gives to this Samaritan! Yet these words carry much more significance than simply saying your faith has cured your leprosy. No doubt, that would be something beautiful to hear, that a terminal illness that meant certain and humiliating death was cured. After all leprosy is a terribly disfiguring disease, and at that time if you contracted it you were basically a walking dead man.


Separated from your family and excluded from coming to the temple to worship God in His house, it could not get much worse than this. Most other diseases and conditions there was still care from the family, human touch. There was still the possibility to hearing the Word of God and coming into His presence. But not for these ten lepers, there is no comfort to find outside of death. Entirely dependent on the gifts of food and clothing left at a distance by family and friends, they could do nothing but watch as their flesh decayed and even fell off their bodies.


Is it any wonder that they would cry out when they saw Jesus? “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” This urgent plea is nothing other than a true confession of who Jesus is, the Son of God. It is a penitential prayer begging for mercy, recognizing that He is truly the Master of all things. These lepers are saying to Jesus, “You have power over all things, you have the right and authority to make us clean again. You have the right and authority to allow us back into the temple, to have fellowship with God!”  This plea for mercy is a plea for grace, that Jesus would make them clean, both ceremonially (and we can understand this as spiritually) clean and physically clean. Man cannot enter into the presence of God without having his sins atoned for. If you cannot even go to make the sacrifices that would give forgiveness, from where do you receive grace? These men recognize Jesus as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, who takes away their sin and gives them peace with God.

So Christ says “go and show yourselves to the priests.” In telling them to go, Jesus assures them that they indeed have confessed Him rightly, that they are forgiven, that they are healed. Ten go off to the temple, but only one comes back.


Dear Christians, if you wish to know what our Old Adam looks like, leprosy is a perfect example. Before your baptism you walked around as a dead man. Yes, you had the breath of life in you, you speak and laugh, eat and drink, have a family. But what good is it for a dead man to do any of these things? From the moment you entered the world you were already hastening toward your destruction. This spiritual leprosy of sin kept you out of the presence of God, the very source and fountain of life! Like a dead man walking, you had no relationship with Him to speak of, but remained dependent on His grace to provide you with food and sustenance as He causes rain to fall on the unrighteous and righteous alike. Yes, in this Old Adam you watched as the flesh fell off your bones and Satan sought to claim you for eternal destruction with himself.


And even after our baptism this Old Adam still clings to us today, refusing to be killed entirely this side of eternity. What do we say concerning this sinful nature of ours? That the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance daily be drowned along with all sins and all evil desires. That a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. Our catechism students are learning this by heart, because in this life we constantly see this leprous old creature try with great might to cling to us. Consider this week alone, have you honored all those that God has put in authority over you? Or have you looked at the national news and spoken ill of any of our leaders, who have been appointed by God to govern you, in your heart? This leprous creature clings to us, with all its might. There is no great need for temptation from Satan, our very nature would lead us into sin and thus separate us from Christ. And that is to say nothing of our works, and how little they mean. Can you imagine the cloth wrapped around the dead and decaying tissue of a leper? The stench and filthiness of that cloth? That is our so-called good works apart from Christ. We don’t see the effects of this disease much in this country, thanks be to God. Yet the offensiveness of being called a leper does not carry much weight in our culture. But we were truly leprous in sin before God, until Jesus rescued us out of it.
How great a rescue it is too! We are incapable of contributing anything to Christ in saving us. What we have to offer Jesus is the same that the ten lepers had to offer when they cried out “have mercy on us”. They only had the clothes on their backs, rotten and full of decaying flesh. They had heard the Word and believed, they confessed Him to be Master of all things, able to heal them. We too cry “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy” every time we gather here. We cry this same prayer because we also believe that Christ has the authority and power to cleanse us, to make us spiritually clean. And He does! He healed the ten lepers and sent them to the temple to demonstrate that they had fellowship with God again. Likewise He has delivered us from the power of sin to separate us from God, and this He did in your baptism. One can imagine the wonderful feeling to be able to take off those rotten clothes and have fresh and clean skin underneath to show to the priest.


This is exactly what Christ has done for you in your baptism. He took off the filthy rags you tried to bind yourself up with. All of the dead and rotting flesh of our sin was in those rags. It would only make sense to destroy these diseased rags, but there was only one way to destroy them. Jesus took them and wore them Himself. He wore all of your sin, every last bit, covering Himself in it. And He offered Himself up to the Father as the Sacrifice to destroy all these filthy rags of the whole world. As the Lamb of God, as the sin bearer, Christ bore the punishment that our leprous rags required. On the cross our Lord Jesus drank the full cup of the wrath of God so that we will never need to. Since Christ bore the punishment, He has the authority and power to declare us clean!


Already He has done this in your baptism, for there He washed you and cleansed you. He gave you a clean and fresh white robe to wear. That robe is His own righteousness which He gave to you when He took off your filthy rags. You did indeed go from rags to riches! You were brought from rags of sin and shame to the rich and royal robes of righteousness, holiness, and honor as children of God.


At the beginning I said “Arise and go your way; your faith has saved you,” were wonderful words of comfort that Jesus gives to this Samaritan. Yet these words carry much more significance than simply saying your faith has cured your leprosy. This Samaritan would be considered outside of the covenant, not allowed to come to the temple to have fellowship with God. Yet Jesus tells this man who is not permitted to have fellowship with God, to go the very place that expects fellowship! Upon discovering that his physical body has been healed, the Samaritan realizes what Jesus has done. Christ has shown mercy upon one who had no claim to mercy. The confession he made of who Christ was is true, and Christ has included him as one worthy to receive love and mercy from God. The result is that not only has this Samaritan been physically healed, but Jesus declares him to be of the faithful. He is declared a believer that now shares in all the promises and blessings of God!


We too were outside of the promise and not allowed to come to have fellowship with God. Yet in our Baptism Christ declared us to be faithful, we who had no right to mercy. We are indeed like this one Samaritan who comes back and praises God. Each week we come back and cry out for mercy from Jesus the Master. Each week we return giving thanks to God for all of His benefits to us. We beg for mercy for our sins, we give thanks and praise to Christ that He has indeed cured our leprous sin-sickness. And before you leave He says “Arise and go your way; your faith has saved you.” Jesus says to you today, “I have given you faith to believe my promises. You do indeed believe and so you receive exactly what I have promised, life and salvation in my name. Therefore dear child, have no fear. For despite the rags of the old Adam you may see clinging to you, you are truly clothed in wonderful robes with me. Your faith has saved you.” Amen.

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