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Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
September 1, 2013
Central Passage
Luke 17:11-19
Description

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

You have just heard from the Scriptures that holding fast to the instruction of the wise you will walk and your step will not be hampered; and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.

Take heed, children of God. Take heed to the one leper who returned to Jesus to worship at His feet. For he has taught you the way of wisdom. The leper has led you in the paths of uprightness. Keep hold of his instruction. For when the leper saw that he was healed with his fellow nine lepers, he returned to the Lord to worship at His feet and give thanks. That is the way of wisdom. And it is what separates us from the multitude of unbelievers.

What separates the Christian from all the other sinners is not our moral living. Just this week there isn’t one single Christian on earth – including you and me – that did not sin against the Lord in thought, word, or deed, and fail to love our neighbor as ourselves. Some perhaps more obvious than others, at least to the eyes of men, but remember, O man, that God sees the heart. And from the heart comes all manner of wickedness. So it’s not some higher moral proclivity of ours that separates us from the rest of the sinners in this evil world. Neither is it our knowledge of God. St. Paul teaches in Romans 1, that what can be known about God has been made plain to all people. His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived since the creation of the world so that they are without excuse. But although they know Him, they do not honor Him as God or give Him thanks, but became fools and now worship the creature instead of the Creator.

The LGBT movement; it worships the creature, not the Creator. Beware of anything that promotes the goodness or the growth of man’s spirituality. For in the beginning man was good and fully mature, but when sin came man has only increased in self-love and wickedness.

So neither our morality nor our knowledge of God separates us from the multitude of unbelievers. Neither, then, does our belief in God. For many, many unbelievers believe in God, jut as the nine lepers did who went off thanking God for being healed, going off to the priests of God to be declared clean. They would have said they believe in God and even that God healed them. And so He did. For they, too, were cleansed as was the one leper that returned to Jesus. Surely the nine thought it was marvelous that now they could return to their wives and children, and to their former happy lives. Surely many unbelievers rejoice in God’s power and desire to do good to them.

But here we begin to see what does separate us from the vast multitude of unbelievers. The Christian – like the one leper that returned – believes that Jesus is God and to thank and serve Him, to worship Him, is to worship God.

There. That is what separates us Christians from the rest of sinful mankind. It’s not our goody goodiness, or our potluck lunches or our patriotism, or our common sense. What separates us from the multitude of sinners is that we believe and confess and do not deny that Jesus is God. Not only so, but to worship God one must worship Jesus. For apart from Jesus one cannot please God. And whoever has seen Jesus has seen the Father. And it is the Spirit of Jesus that resides in the hearts and wills of the Christian. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God revealed in the one man, Jesus Christ.

Now what does it mean to worship Jesus? Learn again from the leper. To worship Jesus – to worship God – means to fall at the feet of Jesus, thanking Him for His saving word, for His cross and passion, for His thee-day stay in the tomb, for His resurrection and victory over death, for His ascension when He sat down at the right hand of Power and from there reigns over heaven and earth in mercy, peace, and forgiveness.

But where do we find His feet that we might fall down and worship Him who has said to us, “Be clean.” For that’s what Holy Baptism is. It is the word of the Lord that says to you, “Be clean.” And with His word poured over you in the water, what the Lord says comes to pass: you are made clean. And from that point on, you show yourself to the priest. Only the priest isn’t a Jewish priest from the tribe of Levi. The true priest is truly the High Priest of the tribe of Judah, the Son of Mary. Jesus is our High Priest and you are here showing yourself to Him. Not to show yourself off, but so that He would continue to pronounce you clean. For though sin and trespass abound and are great and nearly limitless in our lives, grace abounds all the more. So that instead of death reigning through sin, grace reigns through Jesus Christ (Ro. 5:20-21). That is what it means when it says that He rules the nations in grace and mercy. He rules the nations from His pulpit, font, and altar.

Doubtless you have heard from the Scriptures that the earth is the Lord’s footstool. And if this is His footstool, then it is on earth where we find His feet. Feet that were anointed with the kisses and tears of the sinful woman who loved the Lord much for she had been forgiven much. Feet that received many sinners that feel down at them to plead of the Lord mercy and to love Him for the mercy received. Those heavenly feet to which the women at the tomb on that first Easter morning fell down at and clung to, worshipping the Lord their God. Surely the Scriptures is fulfilled that says, “Let us go to His dwelling place; let us worship at His footstool!” (Psalm 132:7)

Surely it is fulfilled. For today you come to the dwelling place of the Lord, which is in the midst of His people, for He is God with us. You have found the feet of Him who brings you good news. And here you fall down at His feet and worship Him, thanking Him for all His benefits to you and rejoicing in the Lord’s salvation. Here you thank Him for His cross and passion, His death and burial, His resurrection and ascension. Here you serve the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Here you love the Lord your God and walk in His ways (Deuteronomy 10:12). All of this is what the apostle means when he says that as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes in the future.

Here you are separated from the multitude of unbelievers who go about like those nine foolish lepers, thinking to worship the Lord however they see fit, in whatever ways they choose and that of are their own making. They go off having been healed, for the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the whole world, but sadly they do go. They do not come. They depart. They do not return. They go off happy and even content with God and even saying they love Jesus, but they do not think to fall down at His feet and worship Him.

Cling to instruction, do not let her go. Guard her, for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked or walk in the way of the evil. But the instruction of the Lord is life to you who have found Him, and healing to your flesh.[1] And heeding the instruction of the wise, you will walk and your step will not be hampered; you will run and you will not stumble.

+ In Nomine Iesu +


[1] Proverbs 4:10-23, the Old Testament reading for Trinity 14)