Jesus’ Teachings Luke 17 11-19

Readings for this week October 12-16
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Day 1  – Borderlands

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 17: 11-14
Jesus has set his face to go to Jerusalem. Having suffered much opposition and misunderstanding, he nevertheless determinedly heads for the place of suffering and death. However this is not a linear journey, not a straight road, for he is passing through the “region between” Samaria and Galilee. This is a borderland where cultures clash and tensions may be expected to be high. It is here that Jesus and his party encounter a group of outcasts. Leprosy denoted a collection of skin diseases which demanded total isolation from the general public. The sufferer was removed from family, employment, communal worship, civilized society, in fact all the normal interactions of day to day life. In every way possible they “stood apart.” And it in this borderland that Jesus comes close.
At least one of these ten lepers was a Samaritan. Under normal circumstances the Jews despised the Samaritans as racial half-breeds who had defected from the true faith. But in their shared need these racial and national barriers are broken down. Their affliction has forged some sort of community. Their very isolation has propelled them to cry out for mercy.
We may not be afflicted by visible ailments and social banishment, but perhaps this passage asks for an honest examination of the hidden borderlands within ourselves. Those places that we least want to be seen, but which we most need to be touched. Jesus meets us in those very hard places.  If we can recognise him, and in humility bring our need into the open, we too may find him willing and able to meet the cry of our heart.

Questions to Consider
What are the “borderlands” or hidden places in my life?
What keeps me isolated there? What is the cry of my heart?
When has suffering enabled me to draw nearer to others in similar places?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, it is hard to look at the borderland places, the hurts that no one else sees within me. Thank you that whatever my pain or issues, you see them. Please meet me, and bring me back to health and wholeness as I continue to trust you, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

 


 

Day 2  – A Generous Look

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 17: 11-16
Throughout his gospel Luke has been at pains to show Jesus’ attitude to outsiders. Jesus’ ministry of teaching and miracles is coming to an end. He has been looking for those who have eyes to see who he is, and to recognise the new era he is bringing in. As so often reported before, those close to Jesus, and those religious elite who should have been able to see, remain blind. Those marginalized, poor and of low repute seem to have eyes open to Jesus’ identity and significance.
Seeing is such a significant theme throughout Luke. Jesus sees these ten men, not as unapproachable outcasts, socially excluded, punished by God, and beyond mercy. He sees ten men estranged and lost – but willing to acknowldege their lostness. The men, for their part, call out “Jesus, Master.” They see Jesus as someone carrying authority, through whom the blessings of God can reach even untouchables like themselves. The leper who turns back to Jesus, does so because “he saw that he was healed.” He recognised both the enormity of the change that had happened in his life (physical, social, economic, spiritual, communal), and that Jesus was the source of that healing.
The story asks us to evaluate our seeing. How do we view those different from ourselves? How do we view the many everyday blessings that are ours? How do we view Jesus and our relationship to him?

Questions to Consider
Who appears unapproachable to me, or unlikely to respond to God?
Do I recognise the authority of Jesus? How often and in what ways do I ‘fall at his feet’ and acknowledge him as Master?

Prayer
Father God, I want to live with eyes open to all the ways you work in my life and in those around me. Thank you that you see me, not by the labels others impose but as immensely valuable to you. Accept my humble gratitude and wonder, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

 


 

Day 3  – Kingdom Markers

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 17: 11-16
Cleansing lepers was one of the hallmarks of Jesus’ mission, one of the markers that announced that God’s kingdom had truly come. At the beginning of his ministry in the Nazareth synagogue he spoke of good news to the poor, release for the prisoners and those oppressed, and recounted the healing of Naaman the Syrian 4:18-27. Although not behind physical bars, no one was more a prisoner, feared and locked out of all social contact, than someone suffering from leprosy. When John the Baptist enquires from prison if Jesus is indeed the one they were waiting for, Jesus replies, “Go and tell John…the lepers are cleansed” 7:22.
Somehow the Jews had managed to define their faith by who was in and who was excluded. Temple worship was important, racial purity was important, appearances were important and rule keeping was important. Physical disease or deformity, or mental and emotional handicap was often viewed as a curse, putting you outside the possibility of God’s blessing. But when the cry of these poor lepers reaches Jesus, their plea for mercy is met with a resounding Yes! God is not a miser who hoards his compassion and must be cajoled into extending it. He loves without borders, and his mercy is lavish; his generosity is given without merit, and his faithfulness knows no end. In this story Luke is again pressing home who matters to Jesus and what matters to Jesus, and therefore who and what should matter to us.

Question to Consider
What would others say are the marks that make me a follower of Jesus?
What are the markers that our church is known for? Would these things be described as good news to everybody? How could we do better at ‘including’?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you that you love without exception, and you desire to bring freedom in all its forms. Help me accept the freedom you offer, and be someone who extends that same freedom to others. May our faith community be a place of welcome and acceptance, where your good news is shared and celebrated, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

 


 

Day 4  – True Worship

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 17:15-19
During the sixteenth century Martin Luther led liturgical, ethical, and church reforms. When asked to describe the nature of true worship, Luther replied, “The tenth leper turned back.”
The whole of Jesus’ life has been framed by people giving glory to God. Mary on hearing the news of God’s honouring her, the shepherd’s at Jesus’ birth, right through to the centurion witnessing Jesus’ death on the cross. The tenth leper falls at Jesus’ feet not simply because his affliction is removed, but because he recognises Jesus as the source of his healing, God at work amongst us.
“Worship is not simply about hearing God’s story or even praising God in response; rather, hearing the story through Scripture and sermon and praising through song and gifts is all intended to help us see God at work in our lives and the world” David Lose. Worship re-orientates our lives just as surely as the hurrying leper turned back to Jesus in gratitude and praise. Worship curbs our tendency to assess life in terms of what we are owed. Such an attitude can easily develop into anger and bitterness. Worship that springs from viewing the blessings of life as the result of God’s unmerited grace gradually transforms us into gentler and more grateful people. Worship, in its many forms, is simply to really see ourselves as we are, and to turn our eyes to God. In doing so we begin to see more and more of who he truly is.

Question to Consider
How do I express worship – outside of Sunday services?
What things help me ‘turn back’ in grateful worship?
How does worship change the way I view the world around me?

Prayer
Lord, I long to worship you, not only for all you have done for me, but simply because of who you are. Help me learn to take time every day to turn to you, so that when I view the world around me I see people and circumstances with your eyes, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

 


 

Day 5 – Gratitude

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 17: 15-19
“Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. All ten lepers had to take a concrete step, acting on Jesus’ words, and all ten were healed. The fact that nine continued on their way, obeying Jesus’ instruction without delay, and did not turn back to give thanks, did not mean they lost the healing of their disease. But one did turn back, perhaps the most unlikely, for Luke pulls the rug out from under his audience’s expectation by adding, “and he was a Samaritan.” Even Jesus notes that the only one to offer reverence and thanks was “this foreigner.” The gospel is continually calling for us to make a decision about Jesus. Here Luke pictures a man making the right decision.
Jesus’ word to the man to “Rise” or get up would have been understood by the early Christians as having to do with resurrection. Jesus was offering new life; the new life that is part of age to come that Israel had long been hoping for. Jesus commends the man’s faith which has “made you well” or may be translated as “saved you.” Something more than mere physical healing is happening here. Faith and gratitude hand in hand have resulted in wholeness.
Luke’s gospel is full of people who take time to thank and praise God for what they see him doing through Jesus. Praise and gratitude is important because it “re-established our relationship with God on its proper terms” D Bock. Gratitude is about more than results, it is about fellowship, heart to heart communion. “This rhythm of faith and gratitude simply is what being a Christian, in the first or the twenty-first century, is all about” NT Wright.

Question to Consider
This week, find three things each day to give thanks for. Keep this up and you will gradually look at life in terms of positives rather than focusing on negatives.
Count your blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.   Johnson Oatman Jr. 1897.

Prayer
Lord, give me eyes to see your hand at work, and a grateful heart, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)