The Returning Servant, The Ten Lepers
by Marci Nelson
Have you thanked someone for their work, and they responded, “I’m just doing my job”? Maybe you’ve said it yourself. You have a job to do, and you do it without any expectation of gratitude because it is your job. When the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith, Jesus uses this common human sentiment to teach his disciples about the nature of faith. In the Parable of the Returning Servant as recorded in Luke 17:7-10, Jesus first tells them that small faith can move mountains, and then he segues into this story about the servant who returns from the fields and is expected to complete his duties before taking care of himself for the day. Jesus uses the parable of a servant to demonstrate how we are to acknowledge God’s lordship in our lives. This is because the servant who comes home from the field yields to the directions of his master before caring for himself; this is his humble responsibility.
In the same way, God wants us to yield our wills to Him to be faithful to him. He has a master plan, and how we function inside of His designs is key to becoming like Christ. So, when Jesus puts forth the parable of the servant as a model of faith, he tells us that our work and movements acknowledge that his thoughts and ways are much higher than our own.
Furthermore, Luke, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, deepens this lesson by following with a story about the healing of ten lepers. Under ancient Jewish law, having a skin disease rendered one unclean. These men needed to be healed, cleansed, and declared clean by the temple priests before they would be allowed to return to their lives. This disease meant loneliness and economic destitution.
The ten lepers must have heard stories of Jesus healing others, and when they see him, they have tremendous hope that he will heal them. They call out to him, and he says, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” They believe that he will heal them, and that by the time they arrive at the temple, the priests will be able to declare them clean according to the Law and the ten would be able to reenter society.
By their belief in Jesus, the ten are indeed healed. However, once healed, they go on their way, returning to their old lives. Only one leper, now renewed, understands the true nature of the miracle, and returns to Jesus in worship. All are healed, but only one understands the truth of Jesus and becomes spiritually alive.
Jesus shepherds His people, reminding them that their true position is with spiritual ears attuned to obey the one true God, an act of humble worship.
Father, thank you that you made yourself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Your thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and Your ways are higher than our ways. (Phil. 2:7, Isa. 55:8-9)
Marci Nelson and her husband Terry have been attending the Falls Church Anglican since 1999, and they raised their three children here. Their children are now ages 15- 25. Marci is involved as a volunteer in several ministries in our church.