Study 7 THE ONE LEPER, WHEN HE RETURNED TO GIVE THANKS
OUR LORD’S COMMENDATIONS
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Luke 17:11-19; Commendation: Verse 19)
Only Luke’s gospel has the record of the ten lepers who were cleansed by the Lord while He was on His way to Jerusalem. Normally these ten men would not have been together, for some were Jews and some were Samaritans – look up John 4:9; but people who are in the same kind of trouble are often thrown together. These leprous men “stood at a distance” (verse 12), and when they saw the Lord they cried to Him for pity (verse 13). He commanded them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests”, and as they obeyed they were cleansed. One returned to give thanks (verses 15-16), but the other nine were not heard of again (verse 17). The man who returned to give thanks received a word of commendation from the Lord (verse 19). To appreciate the significance of our Lord’s commendation of this we need to study the whole story in detail. Five simple lessons emerge from it:
1. NO-ONE HAS EVER CALLED ON THE LORD JESUS FOR HELP AND CALLED IN VAIN.
Notice in verse 13 their cry was earnest – they were lepers, but even they may be sure of the Lord’s help. Thank God, no-one is too sinful, too diseased or in too great a difficulty to call upon Him and receive His blessing. Christ is no respecter of persons; here were Jews and Samaritans – look up Romans 10:11-13. Whatever trouble we may have, if we will call upon Him He will be gracious to us and undertake for us – look up Psalm 50:15. If we will call upon Him for help – see what Psalm 34:6 and 19 say!
2. THE LORD DOES NOT DEAL WITH EVERYONE IN THE SAME WAY.
From verse 14 we see that He dealt with these ten men in accordance with Leviticus 14:2-4. What he said in effect was, “The priests have condemned you as lepers; if you believe that I can heal you, and am healing you, go and show yourselves to them that they may see you are healed.” In contrast with this, turn back to read of the Lord’s healing of the leper who came to Him in Luke 5:12-14. He did not send that man to the priests; He cleansed him in a moment by the power of His word and His touch. Or think of Naaman, who before he was cleansed had to dip in Jordan seven times – look up 2 Kings 5:14. Likewise, in the matter of salvation the Lord is sovereign, and in no two cases does He work alike. Compare, for example, His dealings with Nicodemus (John 3), with the woman at the well (John 4), with the Queen’s Treasurer (Acts 8), with Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9) and with Cornelius (Acts 10). How different were the experiences of these people! There is only one way to God – look up John 10:9; 14:6; Acts 4:12; but there are very many ways to Christ.
3. SPIRITUAL BLESSING ONLY AND ALWAYS COMES IN THE PATHWAY OF OBEDIENCE.
In verse 14 Jesus said, “Go…show yourselves…and as they went, they were cleansed.” They simply took the Lord at His word, and when they did what He said they received the blessing they needed so much! The operative words here are: “as they went…”; in other words, as they obeyed, they were cleansed. If we would experience fulness of spiritual blessing we must realise it can only be as we are willing to do what the Lord says. What are the commands of the Gospel that are clearly set out in the Word of God?
- COME – Isaiah 1:18; Matthew 11:29; John 6:37; Revelation 22:17.
- REPENT – Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30; Romans 2:4.
- FORSAKE – Isaiah 55:7; Matthew 5:29; Romans 13:14;
2 Corinthians 7:1.
- BELIEVE – John 3:16; Acts 13:39; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 2:8.
- CONFESS – Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9; 1 Timothy 6:13.
- BE BAPTISED – Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; 10:48.
- BE AT THE LORD’S TABLE – Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
The measure of our obedience to the Lord will determine the measure of His blessing experienced and enjoyed in our lives – look up John 2:5, and compare Acts 9:6. Full obedience brings fullness of blessing.
4. WHEN WE CONSIDER ALL THAT THE LORD JESUS HAS DONE FOR US, THE VERY LEAST WE CAN DO IS THANK HIM, AND GIVE OUR LIVES IN FULL SURRENDER TO HIM.
Look at verses 15-16. It was natural to return and give thanks, and yet nine did not do so! If the Lord had cured you from leprosy, would you not thank Him? Have you ever thanked Him for leaving Heaven for you (2 Corinthians 8:9); for coming to Bethlehem’s manger for you (Luke 2:7); for triumphing in the wilderness for you (Matthew 4:11); for His three years of public ministry for you (Acts 10:38); and for all that He endured in Gethsemane and accomplished on Calvary for you (Luke 22:44; 1 Peter 2:24)? Have you ever thanked Him that He rose triumphant from the grave for you (Romans 4:25; Revelation 1:18); and that He ever lives to make intercession for you (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34)? Have you thanked Him, not in word only but by the dedication of your life to His service? Look at the following references, and notice some of the things for which the apostle Paul was thankful: redemption (2 Corinthians 9:15); kindness (2 Corinthians 8:16); obedience (Romans 6:17); and fellowship (2 Timothy 1:3).
5. IT IS ONLY WHEN WE DEFINITELY COME TO THE LORD AND THANK HIM FOR ALL THAT HE HAS DONE FOR US THAT WE RECEIVE HIS WORD OF ASSURANCE AND HIS SPECIAL COMMENDATION.
Look at verse 19. It is one thing to be cleansed, forgiven and saved, but it is another thing to know it. Do you know it? Many Christians do not have the full assurance that the Lord wants them to have. They are constantly filled with doubts and fears. The way to be sure about our salvation and the fullness of spiritual blessing that is ours in Christ is to do what this one leper did – verse 14. That enables the Lord, through the channel of our faith, to make us whole – verse 19!