- Sermon Notes
Hope for the Hopeless
March 12, 2023
In Luke 17 we find this well-known story of the ten lepers. They were living, if one can call it that, around a small village between Samaria and Galilee. One day, Jesus was traveling through this area on His way to Jerusalem, when He encountered them.
While they were standing at a distance, they shouted out to Jesus, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Jesus healed them and sent them to go show themselves to the priests. One of them, when he saw that he has been healed, turned around, fell at Jesus’ feet, and worshiped Him. Jesus then makes a very telling remark. “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”
Many people today are stuck like these lepers. Stuck in hopelessness, stuck in hurt, stuck in rejection and bitterness. They might be stuck in the physical sense, (relationships, past sins, problems, or the effects of these) but more than this, some are stuck emotionally and spiritually which has an impact on their lives holistically.
Some might even have come to trust in Jesus, but are still stuck in the past or the consequences of the past. How do you get unstuck?
We will see important principles unfolding in this story. Firstly, when we cry out to Jesus in faith it has a profound effect. Secondly, when we have gratitude for what he has done, it changes who we are and our trajectory going forward.
I. Cry Out to Jesus
We see that they were living around a little village between Samaria and Galilee. Samaria was the area where the Samaritans lived. It was the area where at the time of the reign of the Assyrian Empire, people from other nations were brought in to intermingle with the Jews living there to break their national pride and absorb them into the then Assyrian empire by intermarriage. Thus, Israeli patriotism would be ‘bred out’ of them.
This also brought with it many idols and idolatry as the gods of other nations were introduced. The whole idea was that they would be integrated into the ‘worldly’ system. They did have their own temple but were seen by the Jews of the time as half-breeds and people who were defiled – not part of God’s people.
Galilee at that time was the native region of Jesus. It is where Jesus did most of his ministry.
This is a very interesting observation as, in this story, Samaria can be seen as a picture of those not part of the promise – the gentiles, the outcast, the world – and Galilee as a picture of where Jesus is – hope.
The lepers were even worse off than being in Samaria. They were stuck between the outcast and hope. They were not welcome anywhere.
Sometimes people feel like this. It is almost the scenario of the prodigal son. Even the world has spit them out. Relationships are broken, sin or the consequences of sin have destroyed many things, and now all things look hopeless.
How wonderful that this is exactly where they encounter Jesus. At the place of hopelessness, Hope shows up. Jesus meets them there.
A. Cry out in faith
- Verse 13 – The first thing they did was cry out to Jesus. The fact that they were willing to cry out to Him showed they had faith, otherwise, they would have kept silent.
- They cried out from a distance. They knew they were not close to Jesus, not one of His followers, but desperation and hope drove them to cry out from a distance.
- You need to be willing to cry out in faith. Even from a distance. It might feel like you are in a place where no one wants anything to do with you, Not the right side, or the wrong side. It might feel that you are not good enough to draw close either. But this is exactly the invitation Jesus gives.
Matthew 11:28, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 9:12, But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.
- What they cried out also mattered. Firstly they called Him Jesus, Master. This is very significant.
- Jesus means ‘Savior’. ‘Master’ used here in Greek means ‘Commander’, one with authority. So, they were crying out, declaring, Savior, Commander, one with authority, have mercy on us!
- As soon as you understand that He came to seek and save the lost, to bind up their wounds, it brings great hope. But they did not just ask ‘Have mercy on us’, they first acknowledged that they trusted in Him as Savior and that they had faith that He had the power to bring change in their lives.
- Jesus will never override your will. He wants to bring change in your life, but there needs to be a surrender and calling out to Him.
- Verse 14 – When He saw them…Then something wonderful happens. Jesus sees them. You must realize that Jesus sees you. This has been part of God’s heart from the beginning.
2 Chronicles 16:9, For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
- There is nowhere that His gaze cannot reach, nowhere you can hide from Him. This is a chilling thought for those wanting to do evil, but it is amazing news for those looking for God.
Psalm 139:7-14, Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
- God has a plan for you, and it is not destruction, but life! This should give you great hope that God is for you! He loves you, want to lead you, want to light your path, has designed you, and made you fearfully wonderful for a purpose.
- Understanding this truth is important. He sees beneath the surface.
- Can you imagine all the emotional baggage that came with being a leper? Ostracized from society, hated, chased away, people scared to be near, people avoiding you. Feeling alone, hurt, angry, lonely, bitter, frustrated, hopeless.
- Seems like this also describes many people today. Underneath the veneer of the surface, there are many hurts.
- Here we need to pause and look at what Jesus did not say. He did not reprimand them saying, ‘Why are you in this condition? Whom did you touch? Whom did you mingle with? What sin did you commit? First deal with all this before I will heal you.’
- These could all be valid accusations. And under the Old Covenant, they would be cut off from God’s presence.
- But Jesus was introducing a New Covenant. He does not say ‘Go clean yourself before you come to Me’. He says ‘Come to Me so I can clean you.’ For a leper to cleanse himself was impossible…and us too.
He immediately saw their hearts of faith. Jesus did not hammer on their mistakes and their faults. They knew their own history.
- Furthermore, they did not act in pride. Pride is one thing that keeps people from receiving healing and deliverance. Pride is keeping up the illusion that all is well and ‘I got this’. Not letting anyone in, because then they have to admit that their lives are a mess.
Illus. – There is a scene in one of the Thor movies where Loki, the god of mischief, is locked up in a prison cell. He is able to create illusions of what people see when they look at him versus reality. In this scene, his mother is died…
- You need to surrender and acknowledge that you need help before you can be helped. Jesus will not force His help on you.
Illus. – This reminds me of the murderers on the cross next to Jesus…
2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.
B. Act on the word in Faith
- Verse 14 – Go and show yourselves to the high priest. There was a provision in the book of Leviticus on what they had to do when they were healed of leprosy. The thing was, it was never acted on because no one was ever healed under this law. That was until Jesus showed up. Suddenly many lepers were healed!
- When they followed the command of Jesus that echoed the command in Leviticus, there would be 10 lepers coming to the priests at one time!
- This was a testimony to Israel that the Messiah had come at the appointed time. As it turns out, it would be a testimony against them.
- Verse 14 – and as they were going, they were cleansed.
- It is interesting to note that in this instance of healing, it did not happen immediately. Their healing was connected to a command which they had to obey. Jesus did not even say, ‘You are healed. Go show yourselves…’. The healing was received by acting on the word of Jesus.
- When they ACTED on the word, they were cleansed. Just hearing the message of hope doesn’t change you. When you apply it to your life, it brings change.
Illus. – You can hear the scripture telling you to cast all your cares, worries, and anxieties on Him and it can still have no effect in your life. It is only when you choose to let go, trust Him, and do it, over and over that it has an impact in your life. The same when hearing ‘You are forgiven’. Until you take hold of it, you will still feel condemned and hopeless.
- The Bible is full of great principles and promises, but you need to act on the words of Jesus.
- We apply it to our lives by the next principle.
II. By Faith – Be Thankful
Thanksgiving is a major theme and principle in the Bible. Here we once again see the power of it at work. Ten were healed, but only one, a Samaritan, came back to thank Jesus. He had a different attitude.
A. Have an attitude of gratitude
- He came back glorifying God with a loud voice while falling on His face before Jesus.
- The Bible makes a definite point of it that he was Samaritan, maybe suggesting that the others were not. If this was the case or not, this Samaritan had a deep gratitude for what Jesus had done. Maybe it was because he was a Samaritan, one that felt not worthy of such mercy, that his gratitude was so deep.
- We must always remember what Christ has saved us from. And not only what He saved us from, but what He has brought us into: the family of God.
- Jesus told a parable that pointed out that those who were forgiven much have the most gratitude and thankfulness.
- This is ironic, as ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If you think that you were less ‘sinful’ than others, you are still living with a self-righteous mindset, that some of your good works were enough to impact your salvation.
- What Jesus was alluding to was that those who have seen how lost they were and were truly honest with themselves would have deep gratitude.
- Gratitude is a very important principle. To better understand it we can look at the opposite of gratitude –thankless, unappreciative, ungrateful. This should not describe those who are saved.
- We should have gratitude even in challenging situations.
- This man was healed, but he still had many obstacles. He was still dirty and filthy. He still had a stigma attached to him. People would have to learn to trust that he was well. He would have been out of the job market for a long time, having to find new employment and direction.
- He had to persevere and break through opinions and people’s perceptions and restore relationships.
- Yet he did not focus on these challenges. He started thanking God. He chose a heart of thankfulness and gratitude.
- Gratitude shows a life surrendered to God. Even though I don’t understand, I will trust and praise.
Illus. – Studies are showing how gratitude journaling improves mental health…
- Because of this, Jesus proclaims something greater over him than physical healing – salvation. You are saved. You have put your trust in me.
- As he surrenders his life to Jesus, Jesus steps into his whole life. Now the promises of the new covenant in Christ also applied to his life.
- Interestingly, two different words were used in this story to describe how Jesus impacted them. The Bible says the ten were In other words, they were healed of their physical sickness.
- But Jesus uses a different word when speaking to this man. “Stand up and go, your faith has made you well. In Greek, it literally means “has saved you.”
- The word used here in Greek for ‘saved’ is ‘sozo’, which implies more than being saved from sin. It means to deliver, protect, heal, preserve, do well, and make whole.
- The others trusted Jesus for physical healing, but this man bowed down and worshiped, and thanked Him. This made a huge difference.
- Jesus was declaring over Him that He would preserve him, sustain him, and heal not only his physical life, but his WHOLE life.
- This is also God’s plan for us. Many have come to Christ for different reasons in the past. Help with a specific problem, fear of hell, or whatever it might be, but have not surrendered their lives to Him. This is very unfortunate.
- Then there are those who draw near and worship, surrendering their all, understanding that Jesus wants a relationship and wants to infuse every area of our lives to make it beautiful for His glory.
B. Faith and thankfulness make you well
- It doesn’t stop there. Jesus tells Him to do two things.
- Stand up. He had to stand up in faith, not sit in his situation. We are also called to stand in faith.
Ephesians 6:13, Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
- By putting on the armor of God, we are standing in the finished work of Jesus Christ, Him being our armor.
- Next, he had to go. He had to trust and move forward in thankfulness. He had to let go of the things of the past. He was no longer that which was his identity for so long. He was now healed and saved.
- He had to take action and take hold of whom Christ said he was.
Philippians 3:13, Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.
- This speaks to our lives as well. Some are stuck in the story of their past. It might have even become that which defines you.
- Jesus is calling you to stand on the truth and go in His promises.
- It might be tough because in the physical everything might still look the same. At that moment he was still dirty, had on the same smelly clothes, and still did not know if people would accept him, but he had the word of Jesus that his faith had saved him.
- In your life, it might also be true. Everything might still look the same in the now. But Jesus has spoken over your life. When you surrender to Him, he promises to sozo your life – deliver, protect, heal, preserve, do well, make whole.
You are saved. Live in that promise.
Luke 17:11-19 NASB
11 While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing [a]between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 13 and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. 15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? 18 [b]Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith [c]has made you well.”
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