Worship; or "One in Ten"

Luke 17:12-19.

And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said to them, Go shew yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said to him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith has made thee whole.

It must have been a grievous sight — ten men met the Lord Jesus; and these men were "lepers, which stood afar off." Suffering from that loathsome, incurable disease, they might wander from place to place, seeking relief, but none could give it; nay, none dare touch them or be near them. Such is the awful picture of man's condition as a sinner. His very nature itself corruption and sin. Afar from God — utterly unclean and incurable. He may wander from place to place, but none can give him relief. No remedy can he find for loathsome sin. There was this difference, however: the poor lepers knew their condition. And when Jesus met them, they cried to Him for help. How many thousands of leprous sinners know not their condition. Fearful to think, yet such is the case! In the sight of a holy God their sin is far more loathsome than leprosy is in the sight of man. If my reader has not been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, then certainly this is his awful condition, though he may not know it.

But when Jesus meets a sinner, then, like the poor lepers, the sinner both knows his condition, at least in measure, and knows that He alone can save.

I fear great numbers who profess to be Christians have never really known their condition. How can they? They are either quietly careless about it, or they are still going about from place to place, trying ordinances, commandment-keeping, or one remedy or another, to heal the poor, old, leprous self, which can never thus be healed. But when Jesus meets the poor sinner, then He comes to a dead stand, like the poor woman who had spent all that she had upon physicians, and yet was no better. There is now nothing but Jesus. The poor lepers cried in the bitterness of their hearts to Jesus. I wonder if you have ever thus cried?

What a strange reply did Jesus give them. "Go show yourselves to the priests." Now it was not the least use going to the priest, unless they were healed. The leper was to go to the priest, in the days of his cleansing; and the priest would look to see if he were healed. (Lev. 14:1-3.) And Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests; and yet there was not the least sign in themselves that they were healed. They had only the bare word of Jesus to rest upon. And did they stay until they felt they were healed, or did they look at themselves until they saw some amendment? Oh, no! They might have stayed for ever, mourning and sighing, and saying, I cannot feel I am cleansed; I cannot see any amendment in myself. No, they believed the bare word of God the Son; — they went. "And it came to pass that, as they went, they were cleansed." It is so with the sinner. Oh, those wretched doctors that set you looking into yourselves for signs of amendment! You have not to wait until you feel you are cleansed. The shiner is saved by faith, not by feeling. God declares that the blood of his Son cleanses from all sin. And the moment the lost, leprous sinner believes the bare word of God, that moment he is cleansed. Blessed Jesus! He is the only anointed one, to heal the sin-burdened, broken hearts.

One of the ten, "when he saw that he was healed turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan." But why did he not go to the priest and fulfil the law? Why was not one bird killed over running water, another bird dipped in its blood, and let fly upon the open field — shadows of death and resurrection? Why did he not need the washings for his cleansing, and the blood of the sin-offering, as commanded in Lev. 14? He came to Jesus, the substance, of which those offerings were but mere shadows. He goes not back to the shadows, but comes to Jesus, the substance, and owns Him God — falls at His feet a cleansed worshipper, giving glory to God with a loud voice.

Jesus said, "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said to him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith has made thee whole." This poor Samaritan stranger had not the Jewish religious tendencies of the other nine to draw him to the law and its shadows. The religion of the nine kept them from taking that happy place at the feet of Jesus as cleansed worshippers, giving glory to God. And it is so at this very day. Is there even one in ten, of those who are cleansed, who are Christians, who heartily give glory to God, and know their happy place as purged worshippers? No, their minds are full of dismal doubts, whether it is so or not. Oh, this sin of unbelief, how easily it besets! and especially how it besets the nine, who have their self-righteousness to contend with. I believe we are little aware how the pure gospel of God's pure grace has been corrupted by Jewish leaven.

How many washings and offering were required under the law. But one word from Jesus, and the leper is cleansed. The many sacrifices of bulls and goats could never take away sins — could never bring the sinner to God. But "Christ has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God." Has He failed? Oh no. Every sinner that believes on Him is brought — not half way — no! but really into the happy presence of God, a cleansed worshipper. Perish the thought that would undervalue the death of Christ. It cannot possibly be true that the believer is half saved, or half cleansed, or brought half way to God, or made half fit to be a worshipper. Fellow-believers, "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once." It is done — yes, and still more wondrous, "by one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Yes, I repeat, Jesus died to do all this, and He has done it. If God has given my reader faith, in his own bare word, like the one in ten, then pause and survey what Jesus has done for you. He has sanctified you by his death, and brought you, perfected for ever into the very holiest, to God. That is your place, without sin through the blood of Jesus. I say you have not to hope to get there; you are there; it is your home. Jesus expects you to open your mouth and give glory to God, with a loud voice. His blood cleanses you from all sin. It is written of Him, "who being the brightness of God's glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." Oh, do you know that Jesus sits there, the living proof that your sins are all purged away? Was it not amazing love for such a one to be made a sin offering for you, that you might be brought to God, happy with him, a purged worshipper? Your sins would shut you out of His presence for ever. His blood brings you into His presence for ever.

Now look once more at the leper cleansed. He gave Jesus thanks. He did not hope he was cleansed. He gave thanks because he was cleansed; and this drew out unfeigned worship. Are you a believer, and would you dishonour Christ with a cold hope that you are cleansed? or will you honour Christ, worship Him, and give Him thanks, because you are cleansed by His blood? It is every believer's privilege, with holy boldness, by the blood of Jesus, to worship in the holiest. (Heb. 10.)

Where are the nine? Are you one of them? Have you believed in Jesus, and are you now going to ordinances to be made perfect? Surely not. Would you add anything to the blood of the Lamb? Oh, return to Jesus — fall down — worship Him! — give Him thanks! — give the full glory to God with a loud voice. Do not be ashamed of Him. Do not doubt Him. Trust in Jesus with your whole heart. Trust in His blood. Trust in Him alive from the dead, and trust in nothing but Christ. From this moment may you walk in the blessed, present, certain assurance that you are a cleansed worshipper by the blood of the Lamb.