As I become quiet with the words of the song “Is anyone worthy? He is!”, resounding in my ears. The thought that comes to me is – “bells tolling”. I see in my mind’s eye a tall old-fashioned steeple and can hear the bells tolling loudly, What do tolling bells mean? “They are symbolically calling you to worship – they are calling you and everyone else to come and worship Me – There will be trumpets when I come on the clouds – but for now look up to the mountains, look up to the clouds because the tolling bells are calling you and everyone else to worship Me – Covid is one of My bells, the violence and anarchy, dishonesty and hate, racism, selfishness all round all these horrors and many more – they are all My bells tolling. The answer is NOT in reformation but in transformation – only as individual people are transformed will the Kingdom truly break into the world – one person at a time, but for strength and purpose gathered together as my church – my true church.”
I pick up my reading in Luke at 17:11, with the reminder of the context of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and His teaching on the coming Kingdom. This is a short story which appears to have an obvious point – “I must remember to be like the one who gives thanks to Jesus for his healing and not the other 9, who mooch off to the priest to show themselves on the instruction of Jesus”. I want to move on to the next passage which is giving more direct information on the kingdom. Then something stops me. Just like the rich man and Lazarus there must be more to this story. So friends, why don’t you take a bit of time to consider what the true message Luke may be giving us through this story? (vv 11 – 19).
So this is what I picked up: 1. The 10 men were alienated from society and should not even have come near Jesus. On top of this, the one who is mentioned at the end was a Samaritan who would have been even more alienated by his race. 2. They recognize and acknowledge their plight and need to be helped, crying out “Jesus, Master have mercy on us!” 3. They are all “cleansed”. The Greek word used is ‘katharizo’ from which comes the description of a medicine which will cleanse your insides as a ‘cathartic’. 4. One of them sees he is ‘healed,’ Greek word ‘iaomai’, from which comes the term ‘iatric’ to describe something medical. He saw that he was medically cured. 5. He then draws near to Jesus and throws himself at Jesus’ feet thanking Him. 6. After his interaction with the man Jesus makes this statement: “Rise and go, your faith has made you well”. the Greek word now used is ‘sozo’. Sozo is the same word for ‘being saved’. So Jesus is in fact pronouncing Him as being made completely whole, IOW not only healed physically but also saved spiritually.
So what does all this teach us? 1. All men are alienated from Jesus (God) through their sinful state. Salvation breaks that barrier and allows us, no, invites us to draw near to God. At the same time no-one is too ‘unclean’ to be save as we saw before with Lazarus. 2. It is necessary to recognize your need before you will come to Jesus for ‘healing’. 3. There were 10 men cleansed, yet only one was saved. Does this in fact give a true reflection of the ratio of people who hear the gospel and those who are ultimately saved through it? Figures elsewhere in scripture give a similar ratio. 4. Interaction with Jesus even on a miraculous level does not necessarily mean a person is saved or even will be saved. There is a wide spread of “common grace” in the world.
The enigmatic statement at the end which one can take at face value is, that it was his faith that healed the Samaritan. The question that comes to me is, what made the difference between him and the others? Where did his faith come from? What did it entail? Maybe you would like to chew that one over.
What did Jesus say to me? This was a timely reminder to me that, not everyone who is touched in some way by Jesus is necessarily saved. I have become more than ever convinced that we far too easily assume salvation has happened in this post-modern, easy-believism society. True salvation involves a total transformation, not an intellectual acceptance. The secret difference of course is the work of the Lord through His Spirit.
- Presenting Jesus to Intellectual Pagans.
- The Beach is Bare, but the Waves Roll in.
- Knowing God or Knowing about God?
- The Blessing of the True Sabbath.
- More on Wisdom and Trust
- Yahweh, the only Living God.
- The Gospel for the Gentiles too.
- From the Stump, the Messiah.
- Streams in the Desert
- Humility and Harmony.