Pentecost 18 C 2022 Have Mercy on Us
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
This morning we read that “On the way to Jerusalem He (Jesus) was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.” Luke 17:11 It sounds like such a simple verse. But nothing is ever simple in Luke’s Gospel.
As you may recall, in the 9th chapter, Jesus had set His face towards Jerusalem, but His walk between Samaria and Galilee was not the most direct route. In fact, it was a detour. And it took Jesus into unfriendly territory as a Jew.
Jews and Samaritans did not get along. Jews looked down upon the Samaritans because they were considered half-breeds, they were Jews who had married and had offspring with people from other nations. They were not pure-bred Jews. And so, Jews felt they did not deserve to be treated with the same respect as they would treat a pure Jew.
Yet today we read that Jesus went out of His way as He journeyed towards the Cross to spend time with the half-breeds.
We read “And as He (Jesus) entered a village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’” Luke 17:12-13
Notice that the plea these Lepers cried out for was a cry for mercy. They were begging Jesus to give them something that they knew they did not deserve. It is the same cry we plead every Sunday when we join our voices together and sing the Kyrie.
“Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.” It is a cry for help. It is our attempt to ask Jesus to give us something that we know that we do not deserve. It is a request we make for the forgiveness of our sins so that God would relieve us of the punishment that we deserve.
We can ask this because God the Father in His great love for us bestowed His mercy on us when He sacrificed His Son, Jesus Christ, on the Cross to pay the price for our sins.
Like us, the Lepers needed God’s Redeeming Activity in their lives too. But oddly enough, they did not ask for Jesus to heal them. No, they asked for mercy.
For you see, Lepers were social and religious outcasts. They could not mingle with the folks in town. They could not worship in the local congregation. They had to stay far away from their community and families, and if someone did get to close to them, they had to shout out “unclean, unclean” in an effort to keep people away from them.
This is where Jesus finds these Lepers. He finds them on the fringe of society between Galilee and Samaria, and they are begging for mercy.
This begs us to ask the question: “Who are the people living on the edge of our community who could use a little mercy?” And “Who have we treated like an outcast with our thoughts, words, and/or deeds?”
Do the people we treat as outcasts look different from us. Do they hold a different political view? Does scripture speak to them in a way that scripture does not speak to us?” Is it a family member, a friend, or a neighbor that we feel no longer deserves our time and our attention?
Who is it in our lives that could use a little mercy?
Jesus had mercy for the Lepers that cried out to Him that day. Our text states: “When He (Jesus) saw them He aid to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went to show themselves to the priests, they were made clean.”
Jesus did not hesitate to grant them mercy. Even though the world considered these men outcasts, Jesus welcomed them into His presence.
And the same is true for you, and for me. In mercy for each one of us, Jesus drenches us in our baptismal waters and claims us as His own. He speaks to us and says “You are mine. You belong to me. You are not an outcast. You are my beloved child.”
Notice, that the gift of mercy overwhelmed one of the Lepers. Our text states “Then one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.” Luke 17:15-16
The one least likely to return and give thanks did just that. The Samaritan Leper, the man who had two strikes against him, was the one who returned and gave thanks.
Each Sunday we return to do the same. During worship, we come to the Lord’s House to give thanks for the mercy Jesus has for us. Think about it. Without Jesus, we are sinners who are doomed to die because of our sin.
But God, in His love for us, sent his Son to become an outcast just like us. And when it looked like God’s Redeeming Activity would not save us as Jesus called out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? God showed us what mercy really looks like. Jesus died the death that we deserved. And then three days later rose victorious over the grave.
Jesus died the death that should have been our death. It is no wonder that we gather to give our thanks. Who would not want to give God thanks and praise?
In our text, the Samaritan returned to give thanks. And Jesus responded: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner? And He (Jesus) said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.’” Luke 17:17-19
Like that Samaritan, in faith, we return to the House of the Lord to give thanks because God has saved us from sin, death, and the power of the evil one. As baptized believers, we rejoice that we are Chosen by God to be His own.
So, let me ask you again. Who is it in our lives that needs to hear about God’s mercy? Who are the people living lives on the edge of our society that perhaps we could extend the same mercy that we have been given?
Let us take time each day to examine our lives and see where we might share the mercy that we have been given with folks who have not yet experienced God ‘s love, and God’s grace, and God’s forgiveness. Amen.
Let us pray: God of glory and love, peace comes from you alone. Send us out as peacemakers and witnesses to your kingdom; and fill our hearts with joy in your promises of salvation. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.