Today we’ve got the healing of the ten lepers. Normally this is where pastors tell the congregation something about the horrible life of lepers. You know, like having to self-quarantine, or social distance, or cover your face, for example. But I know, you don’t know anything about those things, do you!
Well, these days, we are getting a small taste of the life of the leper, aren’t we? In this very bizarre social experiment. We will continue to pray that it all ends soon. No matter what the future brings, most importantly, know that you’re in the right place, at the church of Christ, gathered around the risen Lord – receiving healing, health, and restoration.
This morning, these ten lepers stand at a distance and cry out a short little prayer. A prayer which we also pray at every Divine Service. Jesus, have mercy. Kyrie Eielson.
Well, our Lord heard them and answered their prayer. And now, because they had been rendered ritually unclean because of their corruption, Jesus instructs them to go and show themselves to the priests, and so worship at the temple and offer the prescribed sacrifice. As they went they found that their rotting flesh was restored like that of a child. Just imagine the relief and joy that they must have felt!
At that moment, in their minds, it made perfect sense to keep walking to the temple and show themselves to the priest. After all, that was where God met His people. That was the location where heaven and earth connected. That was the reasonable place to go!
But one of those lepers, the Samaritan, never got there. Somewhere along the way he turned around, did an about-face, and turned right back. Right back to the very source of that healing. With wide eyes, he praised God with a loud voice and fell down at the feet of Jesus and worshipped Him.
Folks, something very special is going on here! That temple was the place where God met His people. His promises were proclaimed there. It was the location where heaven and earth met.
But now, and this is the amazing thing, with the coming of Jesus, the intersection between heaven and earth is shifting. That meeting place between God and man is changing – or more accurately, was coming to a fulfilment. That place of God’s presence was no longer a temple of beautiful wood and stone and gold; that glorious meeting place has now shifted to wherever Jesus decides to place His feet. If you wanted access to God’s mercy in the days of old, you went to the temple. But now, with the arrival of God in the flesh, you follow the lead of that Samaritan, and turn right back to Jesus. You see, Jesus is the place of worship. Jesus is the temple, destroyed on the cross and yet rebuilt: raised up on the third day. Jesus is our high priest, our sacrifice.
We sang some beautiful words in our Introit this morning from Psalm 84. It’s all about the temple – and the presence of God. “For a day in your courts, O Lord, is better than a thousand elsewhere. How lovely is your dwelling place…. My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord.” Do you see how wise that Samaritan ex-leper was? He knew just where to find it all – worshipping at the feet of Jesus.
Okay, so what does this Gospel account have to do with us? Well, like those lepers, we’ve rendered ourselves unfit for those courts. We have every reason to cry out to God for mercy, and cry out like lepers, “Unclean, unclean!” But it’s not because of COVID – not because of leprosy. It’s something far worse – a leprosy of the heart. A terminal illness, a pandemic passed down to every fallen son and daughter of Adam. It’s a defilement so great that it causes death and condemnation: sin.
These leprous hearts bar us from the kingdom of God. St. Paul warns you, as he warns the Galatians in our epistle this morning: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like this. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
So repent. Believe in the Gospel. Don’t follow the nine to the Law of Moses, which cannot save. Instead, fall down at the feet of Jesus. Recognize the one who came to be man’s Savior: God in human flesh, who came in the form of a leper. Who came to bear the dreadful curse for sinful man. He came to be the leper that you are, even changes places with you on the cross – swapping His perfect obedient life for your rebellious life, swapping His heaven for your hell, taking your sicknesses into Himself – all to give you perfect healing. He was punished for all of your ugly leprous sins. He died. Was buried. And rose again, all to beautify you with His salvation. To cleanse you, heal you, and set you free, presenting you as holy, and pleasing before His Father in heaven.
Dear Christians, you have been called to faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is no longer you who live, but Christ lives in you, and the life that you now live in the flesh, you live by faith in the Son of God, who loved you and gave Himself for you. The fruits of the Spirit have been poured into you, where there is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” You are baptized, “and those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
This morning, let us all turn back to Jesus, and acknowledge the Incarnate One in our midst. God in human flesh. Let us all worship the very one who bridges heaven and earth – Christ Jesus. Let us reach out for His body and drink His holy blood and so find healing, mercy, and peace with God.
In the name of Jesus. Amen. May the peace of God which surpasses all understands keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
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OFFERINGS TO LMC
Please remember your gifts to LMC. There are a few options to give:
- You can mail your weekly offerings to the church.
- You can also do an online bill pay through your bank account, which can reoccur each month. Your bank then sends LMC a check with your offering. There is no cost to you or LMC for this.
- You can set up online giving through an App called Tithe.ly. There is a small fee associated with this transaction. You may find this option at www.lmcusc.org/give