God Wants to Have a Relationship with You (Luke 17:11-19)
“Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God…?” We whine and complain, we cry and sometimes accuse God of not caring about us. But when He does come through for us, we forget all about Him and do not try to maintain our relationship with Him. We go about our day as though we deserved His blessing. We put up an attitude that says, “He’s God anyway, and that’s His job.” Now, that’s probably not what we say but what our attitudes show.
The story in the passage above is an interesting one. Ten lepers met Jesus along the way, cried out to Him with loud wails, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Such wonderful and accurate acknowledgement of Him as Master, for so He is. Such humility and bodacious display of emotion. Jesus was moved not because He did not know that nine of them were only patronizing Him, but because His compassion knows no bounds. He said to them, “Go…”, only as a test; for the best part is when He says, “Come.”—“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” – Matthew 11:28-30, MESSAGE. This is an invitation to have a relationship with God.
Nine of the lepers only wanted healing, but no relationship with the Healer. Don’t many fall into that category today? They would go to church and do anything, anything, just to be healed. They would fast and pray. They cry to God and do so many other activities, not because they want to get closer to God for a relationship with Him, but because they want a miracle from Him.
The one leper who came back to thank Jesus after he was healed, was the last person expected to return; for “he was a Samaritan” – Luke 17:16. You see, at that time and for many generations, the Samaritans and the Jews had been at loggerheads with each other. The Jews believed that the Samaritans were not a part of Abraham’s covenanted seeds, since their ancestors had, in violation of God’s commandment, intermarried with people of neighbouring nations who were idol worshippers. And the Samaritans hated the Jews for that discrimination and didn’t have any relationships with them. Jesus was a Jew, yet, we see here that only one of the lepers, the only one of them who was a Samaritan, came back to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). The Bible says that he fell down on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks.
Difference Between the First and the Second
What did Jesus say to the one who came back? “Arise and go…” – Luke 17:19. So, what is the difference between this go and the first one He said to all of them? When the ten lepers first encountered Jesus, they couldn’t go close to Him, not because He would have rejected them, but because the law forbade lepers (or the unclean, as the law of Moses refers to them) to go close to people who were whole (or clean). (See what happened to Miriam, Moses’ sister in Numbers 12:10-15. For a full record of the law in all its variations, see Leviticus chapters 13 & 14.) So, these ten lepers in our story self-quarantined in the outskirts of the village. And when they saw Jesus from a far distance (Luke 17:12), they couldn’t run to fall at His feet, to behold the beauty of His countenance, to touch but the hem of His garment. Instead, “they lifted up their voices and [cried], ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’” (Luke 12:13). Then Jesus used the first go because they hadn’t come in the first place. He told them, “Go,” so that they could come afterwards; for, what He really desired was for them to return and have Him send them away officially with the best part which is a relationship, a personal encounter with His grace.
He told the one man who came back, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” – Luke 17:19, KJV. In other words, “Because you believed there was more to Me than healing and returned to have a relationship with Me, you have now received the whole package, which is healing of both the soul and the body; you are saved. Arise, and enter into the rest of your Lord.”
This is a wake-up call to all those who seek the gifts but not the Giver; healing but not the Healer; open doors but not the Grantor. You can have all these and more than you can ever imagine in one whole package if only you would come. (See Matthew 6:33.) God wants to have a relationship with you so He can give you more. That was what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him,” 1 Corinthians 2:9. Won’t you come?
Do you hear God speaking to you today through this lesson? Please, leave a comment or question; your comment/question might be a blessing to someone.
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I was around 5 when, I am strongly convinced, I first heard the distinct voice of God. But, not until I was 11 (2002) did I have a personal encounter with Him. I was in my room that night, about to pray before bed, when I saw a revelation of how filthy my heart was. I didn't argue with God that I was too young to have such amount of filth ('cause I believed I was a 'good boy,' by human standards, at least). I simply cried uncontrollably in brokenness of heart - "The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God" (Psalm 51:17) - and He didn't.
Still crying uncontrollably, I left my room and went to the living room, where my parents were watching the nightly news on TV. After I managed to tell them about the revelation I saw, my sweet mum took me to her room and led me to Christ. I got saved that night. And 6 years later, I discovered my purpose and assignment on earth, which is raising up men and women to be godly, and teaching them the simplicity of Christianity. More than a decade later, I am still fulfilling that purpose to His glory. Hallelujah!