March 12 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 17)

Submitted by Ahmi K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Luke 17:15-19

  • Reflect on the words: “Where are the other nine?”  What does this reveal about Jesus, and his desires and expectations? 

This was not a mean-spirited question about demanding payback for His healing. It was a baffled, concerned, almost pained question, wondering, because He considered each of them. He was not an impersonal magician who waved his wand and did not care who was affected or not.  It revealed that He knew who He healed, that He remembered specifically the number – nine. He healed generously.  He heard their plea and responded to their need. However, what He desired through the healings was for them to make that personal connection with Him through this act of healing. And that connection can be only made when they returned and thanked Him.

  • What may have been the reasons why the other nine did not come back to thank Jesus?

o   They may have been just so happy that they were cleansed that they forgot about who cleansed them, and hurried on their way to rejoin the community they’ve been apart from.

o   They may have thought that it was not Jesus after all, but that they somehow got cleansed along the way, so He should not get the praise.

o   They may have thought that He was too busy and would have already moved on and forgotten about them anyway. They might not have wanted to bother Him by seeking Him out and thanking Him. After all, they had already bothered Him enough as it was.

o   They may have thought that it was His job description after all to heal them, since He was the Messiah, something He’s supposed to do.

o   They may have thought that, since they were in a group and it was not specifically toward only one person, it wasn’t special enough for them to return to give thanks. When it’s done for a group, it’s not as special as when it is done for you alone, so it did not warrant a personal thanks.

  • How grateful am I for the cleansing I have received from Jesus?

I have found that I get used to the cleansing I have received from Jesus and forget what kind of state He had rescued me from, unless I specifically confess and repent of my sinful state today and receive forgiveness again. My repentance today affects how grateful I am for the cleansing I have received from Jesus in the past. Otherwise, when I am dull to my sinful state at the present times, I get forgetful of my past and even have a revisionist memory of what kind of state I was in.

I have been in the position to recount my testimony repeatedly as I minister to others in need. And, each time I do, I am so grateful for how He has cleansed me from my leprous sins. Like leprosy, my heart was hardened, dulled, numb and unfeeling and only bent on not suffering emotionally. But, He forgave me, and redeemed my life to one that is alive, sensitive, and aligned with His heart for others. It is an amazing transformation, one I still have to pause and marvel over.

Luke 17:26-30

  • What warning is there in Jesus’ recounting of the activities of the people of the days of Noah and Lot?

The warning is that there was no other sign to indicate when the destruction was to happen. So, we need to be ready in season and out of season, because there really will be no indication for us to know when we will be gone.  There is also a warning to not be foolish and fleshly with our time on earth, because that is destructible and temporary.

  • What kind of people will be ready for the day when the Son of Man is revealed?

Those who prepare an ark like Noah, listen to God’s warning, and get ready for that time, regardless of what others are doing. In this world, no matter how great the warning, people will ignore the warnings and go on eating, drinking, and being given in marriage, with daily affairs. Therefore, we need to prepare for eternity regardless of what others say or do.

Luke 17:32-33

  • Why are we told to remember Lot’s wife?

Looking back and longing for your old life and trying to keep it will only end up in losing your new life.

Lot’s wife tried to keep her life and her old ways, old treasures, and desires. However, in doing so, she lost her life. The only way she could have kept her life was to go on ahead without any looking back or regrets.

  • In what ways am I trying to keep my life?

I am trying to keep my life when I indulge in thoughts that perhaps spiritual battle is not that intense, I can relax about one another’s sins, and not have to be so emotionally and mentally engaged. However, that only results in my losing spiritual alertness and awareness and neglect helping others in sin.

  • What have I gained or lost as a result? 

When I do that, I do gain emotional comfort, but I lose the spiritual battle over sins. Others get lost in their sins because I would not be vigilant for them. I get lost in my sins and become the older son – working away but shriveling up inside and growing farther away from the heart of God.

Submitted by Ulia K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
Luke 17:11-37

SOME IDEAS AND WORDS TO CONSIDER

  • Where are the other nine?

Jesus notes that the only one who returned to thank Jesus was a Samaritan, a foreigner.  Where are the other nine? For whatever reason, they didn’t return, but this foreigner did.  This foreigner knew clearly that as a Samaritan he had no rights to Jesus, since Jews and Samaritans were ethnic enemies at the time.  He knew Jesus didn’t need to have anything to do with him, that he didn’t deserve Jesus’ attention, much less Jesus’ healing power.  So the fact that Jesus did heal him is all the more miraculous, all the more amazing, all the more unmerited, and he returns to thank Jesus.

What might the other nine be like that they didn’t return to Jesus to thank him?  Perhaps they weren’t foreigners but Jews, and perhaps being Jewish gave them a sense of entitlement towards this Jewish rabbi healing them, and so it didn’t cross their minds to return and thank Jesus for healing them.  Definitely some of them could’ve felt entitled – “It’s about time Jesus healed me!  I’ve done so much for God.  I’ve lived a good life, I’ve done well to others.  How could he have allowed my life to be ruined by this disease?”  Perhaps others were too engrossed that they had been healed – “Oh my gosh, look at me, I’m healed!  I’m all better! I can go back to doing all the things I used to do, I’ve wanted to do!  I can live with my family again, etc.  There’s that sense of entitlement, or that focus on the present benefits, and both prevented them from returning to Jesus to thank him.

  • Eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting, building

In the time of Noah, and in the time of Lot, people were engaging in their normal, everyday activities – buying, eating, marrying, building, etc.  There’s nothing wrong with any of these things–buying and selling, eating and drinking—as they are normal ways in which we get by in life, and marrying is a celebrated life blessing.  But the problem was that these everyday status quo life activities actually kept people in Noah and Lot’s days from responding to God.  People were doing all these things … “then the flood came and destroyed them all,” then “fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.”  Basically, LIFE happened, and people lived ignoring and being unaware of God, ignoring the reality of death, of God’s judgment.

It is the daily, weekly routine of life that we can end up ignoring God.  There are always errands to run, responsibilities to take care of, people to meet, relationships to maintain, etc. In the midst of such busyness, we end up neglecting God and forgetting the fact that we face judgment at the end of our lives.  I need to be that forceful person, like in Luke 16.16, who is forcing her way into the kingdom of God, not allowing the busy routines of life, not allowing my own desires for comfort, for building up my name, to drag me away from pursuing the kingdom of God.

  • Lot’s wife

We know what we’re to remember about her, what warning we are to take from her life, based on what Jesus says immediately next in v33 – “Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”  She tried to keep her life – her comforts, her pleasures, her life where she ultimately lived how she wanted without being answerable to God – and so she lost it.

So what are ways that I try to keep my life, ways I want to live without being totally answerable to God?  Recently, we read through an excerpt from CS Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” where he discusses God’s command for us to “Be perfect.”  Many of us go to God to be cured of some particular sin, Lewis says, and indeed He will cure it, but He will not stop there; “once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment.”  The only help God will give us, Lewis says, is to help us become perfect.  Having been a Christian for a few years, having struggled with sin, having served in greater capacities at church, I find myself wanting to reach a level of spirituality and maturity where I can plateau and coast, where I can say, “God, I’ve done enough, I’ve grown enough, I’ve changed enough … I think I’m good enough now,” and it’s that subtle attitude that tells God, “I don’t want anymore, I’m OK now, I don’t need to be so answerable to you anymore.”  And I see that this is how I want to “keep” my life.  But if I try to keep my life by preserving my pride, just wanting to feel OK about myself, then I will lose my life; I will lose God’s continued work to perfect me for heaven, I will lose the truth of who I am before God, I will lose the joy of my salvation, I will lose the privilege of ministry that God has entrusted to me, and whatever blessings that God has given to me will spoil in my hands.  And so I want to lose my life, to abandon this unbiblical life goal of just wanting to feel OK about myself, by continuing to let God work in me, by continuing to let God show me my ugly sin so that I can repent, lose my life, and let God not only preserve me but perfect me.  I have already experienced God doing that kind of work in me, purifying my heart and giving me peace, freeing me from my sins and selfish ambitions and enabling me to have more room in my heart to love and minister to others.


Submitted by Paul C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Luke 17:15-19

  • Reflect on the words: “Where are the other nine?”  What does this reveal about Jesus, and his desires and expectations? 

“Where are the other nine?”  Even in humanistic situations it is good etiquette to thank people who have helped me, even for just a chance to get an interview for a job.  How much more then, the healing of leprosy the incurable disease where the extremities would fall off one by one?  But more than just the right etiquette, Jesus desires relationship.  When gratitude is appropriately expressed and acknowledged, the relationship continues, even if that Samaritan could do nothing to repay Jesus.  And Jesus wasn’t expecting any payment, service, or recommendation.  Jesus simply is interested in having a relationship.  The other nine people for whatever reasons had forfeited their relationship with Jesus.  Jesus was astonished but also was very sad.  At least give praise to God, but they seemed to not even have done that.

  • What may have been the reasons why the other nine did not come back to thank Jesus?

Maybe one of them was just too joyful and forgot about Jesus.  Maybe one person is afraid that maybe by going back to Jesus he would have to be obligated to some service or payment.  One could be just thinking about his future and planning his business and career that he had no room for Jesus.  Maybe one got lost on the way…

One of them may have been very bitter all his life, and maybe he wasn’t that sincere when he called “have pity on us,” and maybe he was bitter at God in the first place, so that when he finally got healed, he thinks he doesn’t owe God anything.

One of them may not be thinking about God at all.  Maybe he was purely materialistic.  He just wanted to “use” Jesus, networking with the right people to get what he wanted.  To him God is the cosmic vending machine.

One may be already in a very depressed mental state with the thought we are going to die anyway. Getting healed is good but it only prolongs the pain and suffering of this life.  At the urge of his friends he went and cried out to Jesus together.  But afterward he still wasn’t so sure if it is better to get this healing, since we are all going to die anyway.

Or one may have thought that his leprosy wasn’t so bad.  Maybe it was just in the beginning stages. Maybe he thinks he can cure it.  But since his friends are crying out to Jesus, he might have thought, “why not?”–I will cry out too.  Since he wasn’t so bad to begin with, he wasn’t all that thankful when he got healed.

  • How grateful am I for the cleansing I have received from Jesus?

I can identify with the one who thinks his leprosy wasn’t so bad.  There was a time that I thought I can handle my own sin.  I could do all the right things and when I messed up, I can apologize to people.  But I would not repent.  This is in order to maintain my own pride and ego that I could draw significance from what I do.  After a while I became so blind and so lost, and it was totally my fault with no one to blame.  My relationship with others also drifted further apart.  I became less and less caring and interested in what is happening at other people’s lives.

I finally repented and cried out to God.  I know I don’t deserve another chance, but wholly leaned on God’s mercy and grace.  From this painful experience I realize that God’s mercy and grace indeed is unconditional.  God loves me all the same.  I know deep inside that I don’t deserve God’s mercy, let alone service opportunities and the sharing in the glory and rejoicing of other people’s salvation.  Now I am more grateful than ever, because I know from what kind of sinfulness I was saved from and I know that I have been cured of the incurable disease.

Luke 17:26-30

  • What warning is there in Jesus’ recounting of the activities of the people of the days of Noah and Lot?

The point is that day will come suddenly, and we need to be ready.  During the days of Noah and Lot, people were engaged in normal activities while ignoring the impending destruction despite Noah and Lot’s warning.  The result was that they all perished.  Likewise, Jesus will be revealed one day while everyone is engrossed in whatever they are engaged in. And we are doing exactly the same thing: eating drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting and building.  But what does it matter?  When that day comes, none of these things matter anymore.  So that warning is that, we should prepare for what really matters.

  • What kind of people will be ready for the day when the Son of Man is revealed?

Noah was ready when the rain came, because he listened to God and made a huge preparation and investment.  It will be the same when the Son of Man is revealed.  People who have invested a lot in the kingdom of God will be naturally ready.  These are people who put the interest of God in front of all other desires.  They would gladly give it up when there is a need.  People who are ready for heaven are generous to others and not tied down to earthly matters, and invest in other people and their relationships.

Luke 17:32-33

  • Why are we told to remember Lot’s wife?

God had clearly told Lot to not look back when all the riches and wealth of the world was being destroyed in Sodom and Gomorrah.  But Lot’s wife, despite God’s clear warning and instruction, looked back as she still longed for them even while she was fleeing.  The consequence was that she did not escape judgment.  The earthly life will end and the things that belong to earth will be destroyed.  By being attached to it, I’m liable to be swept away along with it just like Lot’s wife, who has lost her life when she tried to preserve her earthly life.

  • What have I gained or lost as a result? 

By holding onto my temporary life, I have gained fleeting good feeling about myself, whether in tasks I have accomplished, or by avoiding emotional pain and burden.  But I have lost precious opportunity to form and deepen relationships that last for eternity.  I have my life kind of under my control, but what good is it?  I still have my sinful, unreasonable, proud self proven for failure,  unreliability, and selfishness.  It is much better to surrender to God my sinful self and gain Christ in my life.  And that is what I’ve missed out by trying so hard to keep my life.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response