As I have been reading and preparing sermons from the Book of Luke, I have learned something about how God works. More specifically, I have learned that God often surprises people with forgiveness and healing.
Take for an example the ten lepers Jesus encounters between Samaria and Galilee (Luke 17:11-19. They appeal to Jesus to “have mercy on us”. So, Jesus tells them to “Go and show yourselves to the priests”. It is really the opposite of the way things should be done. Leviticus 13:12-17 explains how a priest must proceed once leprosy has been healed. He must examine the person and then pronounce him “clean”. First, the person must be cured; then the person is directed to be examined by the priest.
In Jesus’ world, the unclean were sent to the priest. Jesus didn’t perform a miracle right away. The miracle of their cleansing happened on the road as they walked away from Jesus. How surprising that must have been! God ambushed them with healing.
Yet, only one of the nine recognized the depth of what had happened. He returned, praising God, falling at Jesus’ feet and thanking Him.
People who hear God’s word are also surprised. Romans 10:17 states: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (ESV). As the Word is proclaimed, faith is born in people. They received atonement and salvation. Some, like the other nine in Luke’s account, reject it. Others receive it gratefully.
God surprised you with His salvation, too. When you were an infant, Christ came down to you in the waters of your baptism. God birthed you through H20 and the proclamation, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.
God took the lead in saving you. We received it even before we could say “yes” or “no”. You and I didn’t take the first step. Jesus came to us first. He saved us, and then we came to realize what He had done. In fact, our whole participation in church life is the ongoing work of learning about the fullness of what Jesus did for you before you made any kind of decision.
God continues to surprise us with His salvation and forgiveness on Sunday mornings through the proclamation of His Word (namely Jesus) and Sacrament. He doesn’t wait for you to make a decision. He just invades your life and gives you grace … whether you want it or not!
Soli Deo Gloria,