Luke 17:11-12 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Sama'ria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance
Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans, is almost axiomatic, and many people believe that this can be applied to a wide variety of relationships - and while this is generally true, there are of course exceptions. What makes people who would otherwise have nothing to do with each other do something together? Something extraordinary.
Leprosy was something extraordinary, extraordinarily bad, lepers were cut off from their families, and their communities, because it was a contagious disease with no cure, and usually ended in death. So we meet 10 men as good as dead, who share their company and their misery.
They hear of Jesus, and hear all he can do, they hear Jesus is in the area, and go to meet him, it appears they are the only people who have come out to meet Jesus - after all, Jesus has his face set on Jerusalem, and many people outside Jerusalem didn't like that. These 10 lepers cry from a distance, for they could not get close because they were contagious, Jesus, master, have mercy on us. While one can always hope, they had no reason to expect that they would receive anything - and that's when something extraordinary happened - Jesus had mercy on them and healed them.
While we often focus on the healing - it is the mercy which is the most important thing - here are the outcasts of society - those with no claim on man or God - whose future is so black, so hopeless, that their only real hope was death. And facing death, they are given life - having been cured, they can return to the families and friends and villages - they now have a future - they now have a life worth living. Mercy is kindness, compassion, and love that gives life to the dead.
Do you need mercy, you might think not - you're not a leper. And yet, we have all confessed that we were dead in our trespasses and sins, and that there was no way we could free ourselves, no way we could earn forgiveness, nothing we could do, for sinners, by definition, are cut off from God, lost, alone, abandoned. How bad is sin? Bad enough that we can sing it:
1. Come to Calvary's holy mountain, Sinners, ruined by the Fall;
Here a pure and healing fountain Flows to you, to me, to all,
In a full, perpetual tide, Opened when our Savior died.
2. Come in poverty and meanness, Come defiled, without, within;
From infection and uncleanness, From the leprosy of sin,
Wash your robes and make them white; Ye shall walk with God in light.
So if God washes away your sin, and gives you a new life - then what?
I've got a life, and I'd better get busy and make up for lost time - lots of things to do!
That's what happens with a lot of people - they get on with life, and they not only fail to thank God, but fail to understand how extraordinary the mercy of God really is, they miss the biggest part of the gift God has given us in Jesus - which is just how great God's love really is.
Its tragic! Jesus died so that we could be cleansed from all our sins. There is nothing so big, that Jesus cannot help. God wants us to know that all sins, can be forgiven, but more than that, God wants us to know that He is merciful - and he wants to give us a great gift, a gift that can truly change people and change the world. For God in showing us mercy in Jesus, has also given us the gift to bring that mercy to others. Why? Because there is nothing "special" about us. We are sinners ruined by the fall, but cleansed in the blood of Jesus - a new creation.
Please remember this text, not just as one which shows us we should be thankful, but remember this as the text which shows us our merciful God - a God who has mercy even on those who do not deserve it - this is the good news of salvation, which is ours in Jesus name.