Vicar Zachary Marklevitz

Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. This area that Jesus is passing along was typically occupied by Samaritans and other unclean people according to the Jews. It was not necessarily considered a prestigious area. In fact, the Jews wanted nothing to do with the Samaritans. The Samaritans were viewed as idol worshipping apostates to be shunned. Samaritans no longer belonged to the Jews, for at best they were half-Jews because of intermarriage with Gentiles.


As Jesus is passing along, he is met by ten lepers. From a distance they lift up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Lepers were considered physically and spiritually unclean. These lepers wanted to be cleansed. “Have mercy on us.” At this point, these lepers have lost all hope. They were desperate. They were known as ‘walking dead men.’ They lift up their voices and give an urgent plea, or a Kyrie, to Jesus, “Have mercy on us.”

This is because leprosy is a terrible disease. At the time it defied all medical skill; it was incurable. It’s mention struck fear into the hearts of those who heard it – perhaps similar to the word “Ebola” today. It not only effects through the veins and even the bones, but it also breaks out on the skin. Leprosy covers the whole body, giving the person an appearance inspiring loathing and nausea. Everyone fled from them, for they gave off a foul stench; and since even the nearness of such sick people could infect others. Everyone who was stricken by this fearful, potentially contagious disease had to leave his or her family and pass this miserable, mournful life in unpopulated regions. Often after long suffering, that person would die there.

 

So Jesus responds to the lepers, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” Why is Jesus sending them to the priests? Jesus’ purpose in sending the lepers to the priests is to fulfill the Old Testament, but also to do something more. Jesus sent the lepers to the priests because the priests were the ones to declare if someone was clean or unclean. Once the lepers were traveling to the temple, it was by faith. They had confidence from Jesus’ previous healing activity that they too will be healed as they follow his command to go to the temple. This was a fulfilling of Moses and the entire Old Testament because the leper’s sacrifices at the temple will foreshadow Jesus’ own bloody sacrifice.

SERMON FOR THE 14TH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY, 9-21-2014
Vicar Zachary Marklevitz

Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. This area that Jesus is passing along was typically occupied by Samaritans and other unclean people according to the Jews. It was not necessarily considered a prestigious area. In fact, the Jews wanted nothing to do with the Samaritans. The Samaritans were viewed as idol worshipping apostates to be shunned. Samaritans no longer belonged to the Jews, for at best they were half-Jews because of intermarriage with Gentiles.


As Jesus is passing along, he is met by ten lepers. From a distance they lift up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Lepers were considered physically and spiritually unclean. These lepers wanted to be cleansed. “Have mercy on us.” At this point, these lepers have lost all hope. They were desperate. They were known as ‘walking dead men.’ They lift up their voices and give an urgent plea, or a Kyrie, to Jesus, “Have mercy on us.”


This is because leprosy is a terrible disease. At the time it defied all medical skill; it was incurable. It’s mention struck fear into the hearts of those who heard it – perhaps similar to the word “Ebola” today. It not only effects through the veins and even the bones, but it also breaks out on the skin. Leprosy covers the whole body, giving the person an appearance inspiring loathing and nausea. Everyone fled from them, for they gave off a foul stench; and since even the nearness of such sick people could infect others. Everyone who was stricken by this fearful, potentially contagious disease had to leave his or her family and pass this miserable, mournful life in unpopulated regions. Often after long suffering, that person would die there.


So Jesus responds to the lepers, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” Why is Jesus sending them to the priests? Jesus’ purpose in sending the lepers to the priests is to fulfill the Old Testament, but also to do something more. Jesus sent the lepers to the priests because the priests were the ones to declare if someone was clean or unclean. Once the lepers were traveling to the temple, it was by faith. They had confidence from Jesus’ previous healing activity that they too will be healed as they follow his command to go to the temple. This was a fulfilling of Moses and the entire Old Testament because the leper’s sacrifices at the temple will foreshadow Jesus’ own bloody sacrifice.


What more was Jesus doing? He was extending mercy to all people. For ten lepers were happy to journey to the temple with the expectation that they would be cleansed. However, only one leper returned after the cleansing. Not a Jew, but a Samaritan. A Samaritan was a foreigner to the chosen people. He was an outcast to the Law given by God. Yet he is the one that returns to Jesus and gives praise to God. The other nine would have given praise to God at the temple. However, it is the foreigner who understands the very presence of God is in the flesh and blood of Jesus. So he returns to praise God, in the person of Jesus. For Jesus has extended mercy to more than Jews, but now to the Gentiles. He has shown mercy to a Samaritan leper.


Is it really possible that these other nine healed lepers could have a benumbed, unthankful heart? For they must have known the healing came from Jesus, not the temple or the priest. Yet, they never returned. How can this be? All you have to do is look at the old Adam. For the lepers were ‘dead men walking,’ and the old Adam is a ‘dead man.’ The heart of our old Adam is not one of thanksgiving, but one of pride and arrogance. Unlike the ten lepers that walked in faith to the temple, we are led to walk for the desires of the flesh. This tempting pressure is true in home life and on campus – in our youth and in our senior years. Yet, like the nine lepers who did not return to Jesus, neither do we rightly and fully return to give thanks or to praise God. We are driven by our own passions. We rationalize our sin by comparing ourselves to others that failed to return. We fail to recognize the blessings from above. We fail to recognize that Life comes by the Spirit.


We are citizens to a nation of sin. Not a geographical nation, but a spiritual nation of sin. This spiritual nation of sin we have settled in and now call home. Yet, one foreigner among this nation of sin is found. This foreigner hears and accepts the Father’s Words. He taught you the way of wisdom; He leads you in the paths of uprightness. He walks, his step not hampered. He runs and does not stumble. He held on to instruction and avoided the way of the evil. For all this, he is a foreigner to you and me. For we walk by the desires of our flesh, while he walks by the Spirit. Among our spiritual nation of sin, we find evidence of these desires: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the likes.


Yet, in the midst of our desires, this foreigner came into our nation of sin and built a kingdom. Not a kingdom to which we are accustomed – one that eats the bread of wickedness and drinks the wine of violence. For this foreigner built a kingdom by the Spirit, bringing to us the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This foreigner was crucified at the hands of our passions and desires. Like deep darkness, we bring the way of the wicked in our sinful condition. Sometimes we do not even know over what we stumble. In our wicked nation, we do not fully avoid the evil around us and within us. The forefathers of our spiritual nation of sin could not sleep unless they had done wrong – And apart from Christ we are no better off.


They were robbed of sleep unless they had made someone stumble. Think of that statement in their midnight and early morning actions toward Jesus. By bringing this foreigner death on a tree, they thought this caused his last stumble. Instead, Jesus became our cornerstone for all generations. What was meant for evil and deep darkness, was really the defeat of evil and deep darkness. Lifted up on the cross He lifted from us our guilt and the damning wrath of God. The day of His resurrection revealed that He overcame our darkness with the brightness of God’s salvation for both Jew and foreigner. As he was lifted up on the cross, we now lift up our voices in an urgent plea, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Our ongoing sin of spiritual leprosy can only be cleansed by the ongoing forgiveness of the One who can declare us clean. Like the Samaritan you come to receive healing and to give thanks to God in the flesh! Jesus , your High Priest, who speaks for you before God’s throne, also comes among you in effect saying “Your faith has made you well.”


Your faith in Him that makes you well is a gift! It was given to you by the Holy Spirit through the blood of Jesus that was poured out from his body at the cross. In His merciful kingdom, He does not call you foreigners, but children – in fact, He calls you by name in the flowing, cleansing waters of baptism! He, being the host and meal, brings the bread and wine of forgiveness to you at His table. Still, even when no one is found to return and fully give praise to God, Jesus does. He is no longer a foreigner to us, but our Savior. He is the fulfillment of our old Adam! Alongside all that He does for us, He also stands in our behalf giving God the praise He is due.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a