Last night, Jeff and I were interceding for the church in our regular Friday night prayer time. The Lord took me to Luke 17:11-21, and 34-36. As I meditated on this passage and asked the Holy Spirit to help me pray it out, Jesus said to my heart, “The church is like the nine lepers.”
Think about it. The ten leprous men stood at a distance. Don’t we all stand at a distance when we are covered with the filth of our sins? But even though they didn’t approach Him because of their uncleanness, they called to Him, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” They didn’t call Him by a Messianic title, but they recognized His authority by calling Him “Master.” They knew He was merciful. Don’t we all see His authority to forgive our sins and ask for His mercy, so we may be made clean? He commanded them to go show themselves to the priests, and they immediately started on their way. Don’t we do whatever He says, when we want Him to remove our sins? And as they were going, they were healed. Aren’t we, as we obey Him and repent? So far, I see that the whole church is like all ten lepers.
Starting in verse 15, something changes. One of the lepers sees that he’s healed and turns back, glorifying God with a great, intense voice! He runs toward Jesus, falls on His face (proskuneo, kisses toward Him, which means he worships Him), and gives thanks (eucharisteo, an expression of joy Godward). The rest simply continue on their way.
How many of us who are the church simply go on our way after Jesus has forgiven our sins? The nine lepers who continued on their way represent the vast majority of Christ’s church. We’ve been saved. We go and show others we’re clean. Then we go astray, each one to his own way. Jesus stands right where He was when He healed us, saying, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine — where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” Of course, He knew in advance what was going to happen. He asks the question to emphasize that nine of them did not do what they should have done, had they really understood how much they were forgiven, how dirty they were. And the one who does understand is not even one of the “chosen people.” He’s a foreigner. He’s from the highways and byways, brought to the supper because everyone who was invited was too busy to come. In Luke 7:47, Jesus said to Simon the Pharisee, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
But there’s a remnant in the church that loves much because we know we’ve been forgiven much. We were foreigners, not a people belonging to God, but the Lord has made us a people. We’ve realized that we’ve been made clean. We’ve turned back to Jesus, glorifying God with a great, intense and loud voice! We’ve fallen at His feet, trying to get just as intimately close to Him as possible. We’ve assumed a humble position before Him who set us free. We eurcharisteo Him — we express joy toward Him, our God in the flesh!
What happened to the nine? They went on their way. So does the church. What happened to the foreigner who returned and gave glory, worshiped and expressed joy? Jesus commanded Him to stand up and go, and told that one leper, “Your faith has saved you.” So it is with the remnant.
I am praying for revival, for the nine to wake up, turn back, glorify God with great and intense voices, worship and humble themselves and seek intimacy with Jesus, expressing joy Godward, toward Him and toward the Father. I’m praying for them to be saved. Hear my prayer, Father, in the name of Jesus.