Dear Baptized, cleansed, healed, and saved by God.
Jesus says your faith has made you whole. Literally, that word means your faith has saved you (see also Luke 18:42).
Not someone else’s faith, as in grandpa’s or grandma’s. Your faith in Christ has saved you. How important it is then that we continue in the true saving faith, and continue to partake of those things that sustain and uphold our faith. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
How important it is that we remember our Baptism, and how God washed our sin away through it. How important it is that we continue to partake of the true body and blood of the Savior.
Your faith has made you whole. Not our emotions or feelings. Not our intelligence, or sincerity, no matter how sincere we’ve been. Not our good works, no matter how many we’ve done. But, faith and faith alone, has saved you.
Not some generic faith. Not faith in Buddha or Muhamed. Faith in Christ alone has saved you and made you whole. The stranger, the Gentile, who returned to give thanks, did not thank his lucky stars. He did not thank mother nature. He did not thank a false god. He came back to thank Jesus Christ alone. For Jesus is the only Savior.
But why didn’t Jesus say, “I, the Savior, Jesus Christ, have made you whole. I have saved you.” Because faith receives all that Jesus has to give. “By Grace are ye saved, through faith.” So, “A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ.” So we hear that Abraham believed and it was counted to him for righteousness, because faith receives that perfect life of Christ. So, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
We also confess that the Word has saved you. Because the Gospel is the power of God. As a means or vehicle of God’s grace, it brings into your heart all that Christ did to save you. And faith is what grasps it, receives it. We also say Baptism saves you, not because water alone has that power, but because Baptism is both water and the Word. So Baptism really is the Word. Once again it goes back to God’s power, not ours. So we also say with Jesus, your faith has saved you.
Isn’t that what matters the most? Today faith is not valued. Today it’s all about what I can get my hands on. Fame and fortune, pleasure and treasure. Indulging in the lusts of the flesh as our Epistle lesson says. Faith is not valued because God’s Word is not valued. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are not valued because God’s Word is not valued. Those things are nothing to the wise of the world, the wisdom of the world.
“Lord, I want to be rich, I want to have everything my heart desires.”
And sometimes the Lord does give great riches. But the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be His name.
Sometimes He gives perfect health, and sometimes He takes it away. Because His thoughts His ways are above our thoughts and ways. And the wisdom of the world says, “No thanks. I’ll take my millions thank you very much. I’ll stick with my earthly things. Who in their right mind would actually think that suffering could be a good thing?”
Who? Those who value God’s Word. His Word is clear: “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.”
The ten lepers probably couldn’t get the smile off their faces after having been healed. But only one returned to give thanks to God. Only one recognized the real treasure, the real pleasure, the real healing, that lasts long after this life is over: the healing of our eternal soul.
We can spend so much time chasing after earthly happiness, and the way we think life should be. But here we have ten lepers (a serious disease much like cancer today). For all we know they could have spent years, decades, maybe even most of their entire lives in this condition. And for all we know, the only reason God gave them that life, is so that they might have opportunity to glorify Him. So that their faith might be strengthened. So that they might give up on earthly treasure and pleasure, and put their faith in Christ alone.
One man returned to give thanks to God, because he valued God’s Word. “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the Word of our God shall stand for ever.” Eventually our bodies wither and fade like a flower, yet, we can put our trust in God’s Word. It stands forever. It never fades. It never withers. It never dies. And those who put their faith in God’s Word, will live forever.
One man returned to give thanks to God, realizing that his life was not his own. “know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”
People say I want to have the highest paying job. I want to have the best looking spouse. I want to have the best shoes and clothing. I want to have the best of everything. Yet “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
Jesus did not come to give us a heaven on earth. He came to go to the cross for us and to be judged by God for our sin. He came to make peace between us and God. He came to prepare a place for us in heaven.
He never promised that we wouldn’t face difficulty and sometimes even great sickness in this life, yet, He does promise to always get us through it. He says, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” “For by grace are ye saved through faith.”
Jesus did heal many sicknesses, but most importantly He came to heal our souls. He came to remove our sin and guilt, and everything that would have separated us from God. No matter what circumstances we face in this life, we still have a Savior from sin who freely gives eternal life to all who would receive Him. By His Word and Spirit He gives us the assurance that our sins are forever forgiven.
Since Jesus already went to the cross for us, that means that God is already at peace with us. Our suffering is not punishment from God. It is for the strengthening of our patience and faith in Christ. It is also a gracious reminder that we are only here for a little while, and that therefore, our most pressing need is to have our sins forgiven. Christ has provided for that need by laying down his life for us. "Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."
So, our affliction, “which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
By God’s grace may we continue to value God’s Word. For faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
“Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”