October 12th 2019 28th Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle C)
The tie in between today’s readings: The Deeper Healing
Psalm 98:1-4, 2 Kings 5:14-17, 2 Timothy 2:8-13, Luke 17:11-19
In Biblical times, leprosy was a death sentence and Naaman had it. None of his wealth, his brilliance as the top Syrian general, or the fame that went with it could help him. He was a dead man walking. With no options, he picks up a slave girl’s conviction that Elisha, the prophet in Israel, could cure him. The episode climaxes in our reading today in 2 Kings 5:14-17. (You should read the whole chapter to appreciate the story.) After wrestling with his pride, this desperate man with nothing to lose dips himself seven times in the Jordan River and comes out healed. Filled with gratitude, he goes back to Elisha praising God for the miracle and offers the prophet money, which he refuses. Then Naaman makes a strange request to take two mule loads of dirt back to Syria with him. Why? He came for a healing. He got healed. His expectations were met. Why doesn’t he just end with a thank you, go into town, pick up some skin care items for his fab new bod, and ride off into the sunset? Something has radically changed! He has received a deeper healing. Naaman is more than a guy with a new lease on life. He has become a true believer in Jehovah with a lease on eternal life. He sees Israel as sacred ground and wants to worship on it to be close to his Lord.
Since the days of Naaman, the perils of this disease has not changed, especially not for the ten leprous men crying out to Jesus for help, in our gospel reading, Luke 17:11-19. He tells them to go show themselves to the priests so that they can ratify their cleansing from this infection. They set out in faith of a healing and receive it. Now, they can go back to their families! No more will they be outcasts! They’ve gotten their lives back! That’s where they part ways. Having had their needs met by God, nine Jewish men move on. They were cleansed, but they were not changed. They got what they wanted from God, but God did not get what He wanted from them…their hearts. Their healing was only skin deep. So close, yet so far. One man was different. He was a Samaritan…a despised foreigner! He received a deeper healing. He came to understand that Jesus was God. Instead of getting on with his own life, he traveled back to give thanks and glory to the Messiah, who was his life now. In his new faith, he presented himself to Christ, the real High Priest and was pronounced cleansed of his real illness…his sin.
When the Lord heals, He is illustrating that He has a bigger agenda than good health. Our sin has made us all dead men walking in our spiritual leprosy. Today’s Epistle in 2 Timothy 2:8-13 points us to the cure in our Great Physician. It’s the gospel, a message so precious the Apostle Paul willingly suffers hardships and prison so that it’s power can reach the world. He lays it out in verses 11 to13:
For if we died with Him. We die with Jesus when by faith we join ourselves to His crucifixion for our sins.
We will also live with Him. We rise to a new born again life with his resurrection and our sins forgiven.
If we endure, we will also reign with Him. God will give us the grace to persevere in trials as He molds us into the image of His Son for His glory and the role we’ll play in the New Heaven and New Earth.
If we deny Him, He also will deny us. Enough said.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. This doesn’t mean you can confess Christ and live for sin and it’s OK. On the contrary, it’s a warning for those who play fast and loose with their faith. Jesus will stay true to His Holy character and if you have truly died and risen with the Savior, so should you, if not, who do you think you’re fooling?
Our reading in Psalm 98 encourages us to lose ourselves in worship for His great salvation. It invites us to celebrate the Lord’s loving-kindness and faithfulness and tells us to sing a new song to our God. It’s only right. After you come to faith in Christ you should be singing a different tune. Examine yourself. Have you by faith come to the cross of Christ? Have you received a deeper healing for your spiritual leprosy or is your religion only skin deep? If so, then praise God! If not then today is the day for your salvation. Don’t remain with the walking dead.