TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
October 14 (Lectionary 28)
2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
Psalm 111 (Ps. 111:1)
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7
Psalm 66:1-12 (Ps. 66:9)
2 Timothy 2:8-15
October 18, 2007
Isaiah 43:8-13 or Isaiah 35:5-8
Psalm 124 (Ps. 124:8)
2 Timothy 4:5-11
Luke 1:1-4; 24:44-53
1. Context: Luke 17:11-19
Following a Lukan pattern of words/teachings of Christ followed by acts of loving service this lesson follows a strong section (16:1-17:10) on discipleship. In this section Jesus
calls his apostles (17:5), the inner circle of twelve amongst
the disciples, to a full commitment to the Gospel and not to use the gift of faith as a tool to self-glory or advancement as did several of Jesus' opponents.
Healing, in Luke, is a sign of God's divine
grace. Some may conjecture as to whether or not this is because of the Gospel's namesake being a physician, but healing plays a key role in this Gospel. From Jesus' sermon text in Nazareth (4:18 ff) to the end of this Gospel Jesus' teachings are reinforced with exorcisms and healings. Those healed are usually the outcast or at least the lesser of society unlike contemporary healers. Philostratus, a contemporary of the Gospel writers' era wrote in The Life of Apollonius of Tyana -- a miracle of Apollonius very similar to Luke 7:11-17, the Healing in Nain, except in Apollonius' case the dead child was from an important family, in Jesus' healing it was "a widow". Not from the upper or privileged class, as Jesus' contemporaries did, but the common people and outcasts. Our pericope today illustrates this point graphically with a Samaritan being the one who demonstrates faith in the manner recommended by the Psalms (Psalm 30:10-12 for example) i.e. to give thanks and praise to God for his gifts.
In Luke's Gospel those healed include people
with demons and diseases: 4:33ff, 4:40ff, 6:17ff, 8:2ff, 8:26ff,
9:10ff, and 11:14ff; Simon Peter's Mother-in-Law: 4:38; someone
paralyzed: 5:18; handicapped individuals: 6:6ff, 8:42 ff, 13:10ff,
14:2ff, 18:35ff, and 22:51ff; those dying and dead: 7:1ff, 7:11ff,
8:40ff; and those with leprosy: 5:12ff and 17:12ff. Invariably the
actions of healing came as a response or fulfillment of Jesus' teaching, most often as Jesus teaches of forgiveness and faith.
Our lesson for today is the third from the last
healing story in Luke's Gospel (followed only by the blind man in Jericho (18:35ff) and the restoring of the slave's ear in the Garden of Gethsemene (22:51ff). Following Jesus' teaching on discipleship it serves to epitomize responses of God's grace (either a faith response or not).
2. Analysis: Luke 17:11-19
Luke 17:11 Jerousalom - Jerusalem Luke uses
Jerusalem not just a the physical site of the climax of Jesus' ministry i.e. his death and resurrection, but also as a symbol of Jesus' opposition and the stories that follow those references are usually correctives to misunderstandings of the faith.
Luke 17:11 auto diorcheto dia meson Samareias kai
Galilaias. – he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Geographically very hard to do as that is the East-West running border well to the North of Jerusalem. Some have translated this passing through as between Samaria and Galilee. More likely Luke used this reference to account for the presence of a Samaritan (even a leper) amongst the Jews.
Luke 17:12 elenson omas - pity us / have mercy on us
Luke 17:14 ekatharisthosan - they were cleansed/they
were made clean
Luke 17:15 idon - seeing with alertness, suddenly
Luke 17:15 iatho - healed, cured, made well
Luke 17:19 sesoken - save (as in Christian), make
3. Strategy: Luke 17:11-19
This passage with its themes of healing,
outreach to outcasts (lepers), and faith shown by a "double" outcast -- Samaritan leper to God and a Jewish Rabbi, together can give a powerful message that can too easily be lost in the familiarity of the story. In addition to its place in Year C of our Pericope schedule it is also the appointed Gospel for the Lutheran calendar's day of Thanksgiving.
A first theme to explore is leprosy. Leprosy
was a disease that would exclude the sufferer from the community. Leviticus 13-14 discussed all the proper procedures for diagnosing, responding to, and cleansing lepers. Our pericope follows the outlined procedures properly from the warning cry to oncomers, to the distancing themselves from the village proper, to Jesus' instructions to go seethe Priest. Luke has Jesus treating this with lepers differently than in 5:12ff, where Jesus heals them. Here he follows the Levitical directions explicitly, instructing the lepers to present themselves to the Priest, as the Priest was the only person qualified to declare a person clean of leprosy.
Though these lepers were unclean, outcasts once
again our Lord reaches out to them with love and grace. The fear of becoming unclean, either ritually or physically does not deter our Lord. Donald Juel in his book LUKE - ACTS THE PROMISE OF HISTORY, writes:
"Jesus' ministry and his teachings embody God's
concern for sinners. God is not indifferent. The law is to
be obeyed, but religion that becomes merely exclusive, that
seeks to perpetuate social injustice, that destroys any
genuine concern for outsiders, is perverse. The pious
in Luke fear contamination from outsiders. Jesus is not
corrupted, however. By their contact with him, sinners and
tax collectors--people like Matthew and Zacchaeus--are
converted, reformed, restored. Touching the
women with a hemorrhage (Luke 8:43-48) or lepers (5:12-15 and 17:11-19) or even the dead (Luke 7:11-17) does not defile
Jesus; rather, the sick are healed, lepers cleansed,
and the dead raised."(p.39)
It might be well for us to examine who the
outcasts, lepers are in our communities, even in our congregations. AIDS comes quickly to mind these days, but what about chemical abusers, the homeless, the unemployed, the single parents, the abused, the abusers, the aged living alone, the physically impaired? These may be contemporary "lepers" that we are inclined to leave alone, as
individuals and as communities of the faithful.
Samaritans also fit into the outcast mold, as
they were seen as racially unclean and theologically in error by their Jewish contemporaries. Yet Luke each time he mentions
Samaritans or Samaria it is in a positive way. This is consistent with his treatment of other traditional outcasts, reinforcing the theme that is persistent in Luke-Acts, that for God there are no outcasts, and that should be true for God's people.
The issue of healing is also a significant theme
in this pericope. Luke uses different words for the ten
lepers and the one who returns for healing. The ten lepers are
cleansed -on their way to the priest, the one sees that he is cured -_ and returns to thank God and the Rabbi who did this marvelous thing. Jesus then says that he is healed. The word used by Jesus in vs. 19 for healing is the same word as is used for saving. An implication of this progression may be that though all were cleansed, only the one was healed,
brought to wholeness, saved. Faith made the difference between the one and the nine. Nine were satisfied with returning to their communities, one found something deeper to return to.
Eduard Schweizer commenting on this passage in
The Good News According to Luke writes these thought provoking words about healing:
"A Christian community where the sick are
not healed is a spiritually poor community. A community in
which the healing does not take place quietly but is
placed in the center for its propaganda effect is a
spiritually endangered community. Whether healing takes place through extraordinary means such as prayer or through
"ordinary"means, such as the faithful ministrations of a
doctor, is not the most important question. What matters
is whether or not the bodily healing leads to a new life with
God. Herethe sign of healing through prayer can be
helpful, and its total absence is an unnatural condition for the
community." (page 269)
This day may be an occasion to focus on healing and
its true meaning, perhaps using the Service of the Word for
Healing from the LBW Occasional Service Book or a parallel service from other traditions. The focusing of worship in this
important and often overlooked area could breathe new, healing life into any congregation.
Another theme to follow is the theme of
thanksgiving. The Samaritan praising God fell at the feet of Jesus and "euchariston" thanked him. The whole concept of thanksgiving and Eucharist could be explored as well as it related stewardship emphases.
Following one or more of these threads of themes
in a worship service can breathe new life into a very familiar
passage and perhaps lead to healing surprises for all.
4. References: Luke 17:11-19
Danker, Frederick W. JESUS AND THE NEW AGE According
to St. Luke
St. Louis, Clayton Publishing House, 1972
Gilbertson, James G. PC STUDY BIBLE Seattle:
Computer Study Bible and Concordance in NIV,
KJV, & ASV
Juel, Donald LUKE-ACTS The Promise of History
Atlanta: John Knox
Schweizer, Eduard THE GOOD NEWS ACCORDING TO LUKE
translated by David E. Green. Atlanta: John
Knox Press, 1984
Young, Robert YOUNG'S ANALYTICAL CONCORDANCE TO THE
Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: Luke 17:11-19
LBW # Hymn Name
111 Lamb of God, Pure and Sinless
336 Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me
252 You Servants of God
355 Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow
364 Son of God, Eternal Saviour
520 Give to Our God Immortal Praise!
6. Further Readings
Because the ELCA (among others) is now engaged in the renewal of parish-centered Bible Study, we here recommend-- for a somewhat different look at The Gospel of Luke--the SELECT Video Tape Course Series. This series is sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Columbus, Ohio. Among their many clergy courses is "The Gospel of Luke." It is a concise, well defined six session course that any cluster of Biblically literate lay people or clergy periscope undertake. It is designed for the Church Professional, but need not be limited to such. Each course involves a reading from the Course professor (Donald Juel) in his book Luke-Acts The Promise of History , a discussion period based on the accompanying study guide, and a very brief (approximately 25 minutes) video tape lecture by Dr. Juel.
The Clergy group I participate in were studying
this course at the time of this writing and all of us gained new
insights into Luke's Gospel. A call to Trinity Seminary
[614/235-4136] will put you in touch with the course offerings and procedures to enroll or you may want to write them
at: Continuing Education Office, Trinity Lutheran
Seminary, 2199 E. Main St., Columbus, Ohio 43209.
Exegete: Philip N. Gustafson
© 2007 Tischrede Software