Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Healed or Whole


Tonight we are going to read a story in the New Testament concerning the healing of ten lepers. Among these lepers there was a certain Samaritan to whom Jesus makes a specific reference. Before we go to that passage of scripture, allow me to give some history which will serve to better inform us as to who the Samaritans are.

God brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt and into the land of Canaan for the purpose of establishing a Holy Land, a nation of His people who would worship Him and follow His commands.

The Children of Israel fought for near 25 years to conquer the inhabitants of the land. By the time we get to the end of the book of Joshua, the Ark of the Covenant of God was set in the Tabernacle at Shiloh on a hill in the land later known as Samaria. For the next 400 years, all throughout the times of the Judges, the prophet Samuel, and even King Saul, Samaria was the central seat of government for the Land of Israel. Even after the Ark of the Covenant was lost in battle to the Philistines, the people continued to look towards Samaria for their help.

About 1050 BC King Saul was killed in battle and David was crowned king of the tribe of Judah. He ruled Judah from Hebron for 7 years before all the tribes finally accepted him as King over all the Land and all the Tribes of Israel. At that point, David set his armies to conquer the city of Jebus which had been divided to the Tribe of Benjamin. King David defeated the Jebusites, took the fortress, renamed it Jerusalem and moved the capital of his government there.

In all, David reigned 40 years before King Solomon took the throne and ruled the nation in peace for 40 years. During his reign Solomon not only built the magnificent Temple for the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem, but Solomon also built temples for the pagan gods worshipped by his many foreign wives. This brought him into disrespect and judgment by God who informed Solomon that the Kingdom would suffer for his sins after he died.

When Solomon died at age 80, his son, Rehoboam, became King. The northern 10 tribes did not accept Rehoboam’s new government and tore away from the Kingdom choosing their own King named Jeroboam. These divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah continued in conflict, one ruling from Samaria and the other from Jerusalem, until they were each defeated by foreign kings and the people taken captive and removed from their lands.

About 250 years after Solomon died, around 678BC, some years after the children of Israel had been taken captive to Assyria, the King of Assyria decided to repopulate Samaria so that the wild beasts did not take over.

2 Kings 17

22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them,

23 until the LORD removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.

24 ¶ Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities.

25 And it was so, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they did not fear the LORD; therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of them.

26 So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, "The nations whom you have removed and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the rituals of the God of the land; therefore He has sent lions among them, and indeed, they are killing them because they do not know the rituals of the God of the land."

27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, "Send there one of the priests whom you brought from there; let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the rituals of the God of the land."

28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.

29 However every nation continued to make gods of its own, and put them in the shrines on the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities where they dwelt.

30 The men of Babylon made Succoth Benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima,

31 and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.

32 So they feared the LORD, and from every class they appointed for themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places.

33 They feared the LORD, yet served their own gods — according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away.

So, the Samaritans of Jesus’ day, and indeed the Samaritans of today, are foreigners who perhaps mixed with some people of the land during the 7 Century BC. By the time Jesus walks through Samaria with His disciples, the people of that region have embraced a notion that they are the only real descendants of the original Children of Israel and that they are living in obedience to God’s commands to worship on the mountain blessed and given to them by God in the heart of Samaria.

The Samaritans did not like the Jews and the Jews did not like the Samaritans. They would not speak to each other on the road or expect to be assisted in any way. We see this spoken of by the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob when asked by Jesus to give Him a drink of water. In John 4:22, Jesus admits Himself to be a Jew, as opposed to a Samaritan, by telling the woman, “You don’t know what you worship; We know what we worship for salvation is of the Jews.” Jesus is a Jewish Jesus!

Luke 17

11 ¶ Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.

13 And they lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"

14 So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.

15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,

16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.

17 So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?

18 "Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?"

19 And He said to him, "Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well."

Ten lepers were healed, but only one was made whole. We can be born and raised in the church and still be a foreigner, a stranger, an alien from the common wealth and covenant of God.

“Cleansed” means “healed”. “Whole” or “Well” at the end of verse 19 is the Greek word “Sozo” which means to be made whole – spirit, soul and body … completely whole. It is the same word translated “salvation” throughout the New Testament.

This account of Luke 17 is a revelation given to us concerning the difference between being “healed” and being “whole”. What is that difference?

Healing can come to anyone, even a foreigner, a Samaritan, someone who does not even know what they worship; someone who may even fear the Lord yet serves their own gods.

In other words, many people may receive the healing or blessing of God simply because God is good and He loves everyone in the world. However, wholeness comes to the person who truly comes to Jesus with a heart of thanksgiving to worship Him.

Jesus’ experience reveals that 90 percent of the people who are blessed and healed by Him simply continue on their way, happy to be healed without falling down at His feet, thankful, or giving their worship to Him for their blessing. Faith connects us to God and …

Faith in demonstration makes us whole! Are you searching for healing or wholeness? Have faith, give thanks, and worship Him and Him alone!