Not long ago, I had lunch with a Foursquare minister who was in the middle of an unsettling transition. I had only blocked one hour for the lunch but quickly discovered that the processing of his painful journey would not fit neatly within my previously allotted schedule. My Outlook calendar told me that I didn’t have this much time to give, but real life doesn’t always fit neatly into our plans. The conversation ended up being so intense that I missed several appointments, but the outcome was healthy and positive.
As I reflected on that experience, I recalled the story of the 10 lepers in Luke 17. The 10 men encountered Jesus near the border between Samaria and Galilee while He was on His way to Jerusalem. He was busy, and He was on a mission. But the lepers cried out “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (v. 13, NKJV). Jesus responded by telling them to go show themselves to the priests.
That may seem to you and me that a busy Messiah had simply brushed off their request and told them to go somewhere else for help. But the lepers knew that the priests could pronounce them “clean” and allow them to return to the community from which leprosy had caused them to be exiled. They weren’t just outcasts to society because of their disease; they had lost their families, their homes, their jobs and any semblance of normalcy. They obeyed Jesus, and their faith was rewarded; they were healed along the way.
But this exciting miracle story didn’t end there. The story contains an ironic twist. Only one of the 10 who had been healed returned to thank Jesus—and the one who returned was a Samaritan! You have heard of them: the “half-breeds” that most God-fearing Jews would have nothing to do with in the first place.
Maybe knowing the antipathy that existed between Jews and Samaritans is what caused the Samaritan to return to Jesus, throw himself at His feet and heap heartfelt thanks upon Him. Jesus turned to him and said, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well” (v. 19, NIV).
The word “well” used in verse 19 is the Greek word sozo, which is commonly translated “to save.” The Samaritan had already been made physically well, but his second encounter with Jesus resulted in a deeper level of wholeness—healing for his soul.
The story in Luke 17 reminds me that Jesus came so that we could know complete wholeness and salvation. He always has time for us when we cry out to Him, and we are not excluded on the basis of race or gender or anything else that may cause others to reject us.
I was also reminded of the importance of being thankful—which will cause us to return over and over again to the feet of Jesus. It is there that we will receive everything we need for health and wholeness.
We often encounter people who look healthy on the outside but who may need another touch from the Savior to make them whole on the inside. And, unfortunately, we often come across these people when we are busy. It is easy to interpret these encounters as interruptions—but they are often God-ordained ministry opportunities. One of my resolutions for 2011 is to be more discerning when Jesus is trying to rearrange my schedule. After all, helping people find the way back to healing and wholeness is our business!
By: Glenn Burris Jr., president of The Foursquare Church