Luke 17:14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
I have always loved this story, and it teaches us several things. In the first place, these 10 men were respectful, staying at a distance but addressing Jesus with terms of honor and respect. They had obviously heard stories of Jesus healing people, and it would seem they sought Him out, filled with hope. Jesus’ response wasn’t what we might expect today, going to them and either laying hands on them or commanding the disease to leave, or both. Rather, He simply told them to do what was required for them to be certified as healed, and in faith and hope they obeyed. That is the point of this verse. If they had set conditions on their healing, wanting Him to do something dramatic, they probably would not have been healed. The simple act of obedience based on faith was powerful indeed. We are prone to ask God for things but fail to believe that He has provided them. James’ remarks on the subject come to mind. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 1:5-8) Of course, that also brings us face to face with the quality of our faith. Peter got out of the boat and took steps on the water, but as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink. (Matthew 14:25-31) We have to cry out with the father of the epileptic boy, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) Going back to James, he was very strong on people demonstrating their faith by their actions. That’s what these 10 men did, and we would do well to learn from them.
I have had times of acting in faith and seeing God come through, and I have had times of presumption, substituting wishful thinking for genuine faith. That difference can be subtle, and can really trip me up! I need to remember that on my own I am unreliable, but God can keep me straight if I will let Him. I need to remember Jude’s glorious benediction: “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25) I am not to doubt my own faith – which seems like a contradiction in terms, but it’s based on the reality that faith itself is a gracious gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Just yesterday I was remarking that I had lost my “joy of living,” but that comes entirely from taking my eyes off of my Lord, however unconsciously. I am to fix my eyes on Him, (Hebrews 12:2) and rejoice that He is going to bring everything to a glorious conclusion.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I needed it! Thank You for the assurance You’ve given me as to some of our activities for the next couple of months. Help me neither run ahead nor lag behind, but walk in step with Your Spirit so that Your will may be done in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!