In Luke 17:11, Jesus was passing along the borders of Samaria and Galilee, on his way to Jerusalem, that ancient city of God's past, present and future action. To borrow a phrase we might use, Jerusalem is the place "where the action is." Some folks live "where the action is" in life. However, many of us feel like we live "on the borders" out where the action isn't, just getting through each day. Nothing sudden or profound seems to happen out where you and I live. We're not where the action is.
To make it even worse, like the lepers Jesus meets (Luke 17:12), we sometimes find ourselves feeling left out and cut off, either by others or by our own actions. Not only do we live "on the borders", even when we are with others, we feel deeply and personally alone. Like the lepers, we call to Jesus, "Have mercy, Lord, please help us."
Jesus does a sudden and amazing thing in his encounter with these lepers. In Leviticus 13, Israel's Law stated that a person with leprosy had to appear before a priest for a diagnosis of his or her condition. The priest would follow careful instructions and pronounce the person clean (acceptable) or unclean (unacceptable) based upon what he found according to God's instructions. However, in Luke 17:14, Jesus told them to go, take action, move forward, and do what He asked them to do. Amazingly, it was AS THEY WERE GOING, THAT THEY WERE CLEANSED.
One, and only one, of the ten lepers, turned back toward Jesus when he realized that he had been healed. He cried out, shouted out, made a lot of noise — a joyful noise — giving Glory to God. Then he fell on his face in total worship before Jesus. My friends please know that THIS is worship. This is the experience of the Sudden Kingdom. This is the reaction of a person saved by Jesus. And the person demonstrating this worship was a Samaritan — a race of people looked down upon by the Jews of Jesus' time.
Jesus then gives a lesson for us (see Luke 17:17). He asks, "Where are the nine?" You see they received the same gift of healing. They enjoyed the same blessing of Jesus' healing as the one thankful Samaritan. Unfortunately, however, they lost the richer blessing of the Sudden Kingdom.
What Jesus does to save, protect, and heal us is only part of the blessing. The Sudden Kingdom that breaks into our lives with glory only comes to those who accept it with gratitude and praise God in true worship.
What are the keys to our being able to experience the Sudden Kingdom just as that thankful Samaritan did in Luke 17?
- Cry out to Jesus for mercy
- Do what He asks, and as we do it, recognize and appreciate his healing grace
They lost the richer blessing of the Sudden Kingdom.
- Respond to Jesus in a natural reaction of worship
- Gratefully give Jesus thanks for what He has done for us
Finally, our old friends the Pharisees, those folks who help us by asking the dumb, wrong, questions we often would ask, say to Jesus "When is God's Kingdom going to get here?"
Jesus tells them, and he tells us in Luke 17:20, "You can't pin it down by looking for it; you can't make the kingdom of God an 'object.' The kingdom of God is among you and within you."
When we honor, worship, and thank Jesus, the Lord is not only present, but we also experience the presence of the Sudden Kingdom.