Monday, January 24, 2011

Taking for Granted

Luke 17:17 Then Jesus answered, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?

17 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· οὐχὶ οἱ δέκα ἐκαθαρίσθησαν; οἱ δὲ ἐννέα ποῦ;

This is at the end of the narrative where Jesus heals ten lepers. Only one returns to thank Him and, remarkably, that one is a Samaritan. There are two things here that would seem amazing to the first-century Jew and we likely don't catch it. First, the fact that Jesus cleansed lepers was incredible. Leprosy was a term for all kinds of skin diseases and was even used to describe an infestation of mold in a house. There was no cure for it, so if you had it you were forced to live outside the camp. If you had to go near anyone you were forced to shout "Unclean! Unclean!" so that people could scatter.

The second amazing thing is that this was a Samaritan. It's hard to describe just how much the Jews hated the Samaritans. I'm not sure if there is any way for an American to really appreciate this. Red Sox and Yankees might be close. Ohio State and Michigan is in the ballpark. However, I think Korean and Japanese is a much more apt comparison. The thought of a Samaritan as the hero in a story was just unthinkable to the Jews. And yet here we had a Samaritan as the hero once again. The parable of the good Samaritan is of course another example.

These are interesting facts, but so what? One point of application is that we see the appropriate response to Jesus touching our lives. When I look at my life before knowing Christ I can recognize that I was just as vile and unclean as a leprous Samaritan. Yet Jesus touched me and made me clean. How else can I respond but to worship Him?

Also, this is another example of Jesus breaking down class distinctions. Paul picks up on this in both Galatians and Colossians when he emphasizes that there is no Greek or Jew, but we are all one in Christ Jesus. There is no place for racism in the Kingdom of God. We must certainly hate sin, but there is no reason to hate anyone just because of where they are from or who their parents happen to be. This is of course doubly true for those who are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Consider this as you go about your Christian walk. Do you worship the One who made you clean? Do you give Him all the glory? Do you see class distinctions or racial distinctions? It's all good food for thought for me.

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