Obedience and Blessing
And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed–Luk. 17:14
The Faith of the Lepers Was in Believing
These words occur in the account of the miracle wrought on the ten lepers. It was in some unknown village, far from the great highways, that these ten miserable creatures met with Christ. Misery makes us “acquainted with strange bedfellows,” and leprosy well illustrates that saying. Here were Samaritans and Jews herded together, though the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. In suffering and in profound affliction, as in the primary passions of the heart, there is the touch of nature that makes the whole world kin. These ten lepers must have heard of Christ. They recognized Him afar off, and called Him Master. Some of them probably had known that leper (Luk. 5:1-39) who was never done telling what Christ had wrought on him. And their faith was shown, not only in crying “Master,” but in believing that what He could do for others, He would do, with equal willingness, for them.
A Very Unusual Command
Now whether it was to test them, or for some other reason, it may be quite impossible to say, but the answer of Jesus to the ten was one of the strangest words He ever spake. It was laid down in the Levitical law that a cleansed leper must come before the priest. It was the duty of the priest, according to that law, to give official declaration of the cleansing. One remembers how, when the leprous man was cleansed, in the beautiful story of the fifth chapter, the first order that the Master gave him was to go to the priest in the appointed way. There was nothing strange. Such action was according to the law. That leper, rejoicing in his healing, recognized at once the fitness of the order. But here the same command was given to men whose leprosy was on them still, and whose bodies did not show a trace of cleansing. It was a thoroughly staggering injunction. It would have tried the faith of many a saint. What! ask for a certificate of cleansing when the ghastly signature of death was on them? Yet that was the one thing that the Master said. He gave an order, and called them to obedience. Go show yourselves to the priests.
And then follows that very pregnant word, that as they went they were healed. They left the Master to obey the Master, and, doing so, they won the blessing. Had they remained stock-still in blank astonishment, I do not think we could have wondered at it. Had they discussed the matter, and stood arguing, we should have said that was entirely natural. But the fact remains, that had they acted so, and begged the Lord to deal with them more reasonably, they would have all descended into lepers’ graves. The one condition of healing was obedience. Ordered, they must obey. If He was Master as they had cried He was, then let them prove their faith by their obedience. And the beautiful thing is, that as they went, taking the road that led away from Him, gradually they grew conscious of their healing. It was their obedience that the Lord rewarded. He was testing their faith by their response. Not everyone who calls Him Master is ready for the dynamic of His virtue. Quietly to do what He commands, and to do it without questioning or argument, is the appointed highway to revival. These men’s knowledge of the Lord was scanty. Their faith, at the best, was rudimentary. But at any rate, here was a plain command, given by One whom they had called their Master. And all they longed for, the passing of their plague, their enrolment again in the brotherhood of man, sprang out of immediate obedience.
They Obeyed Even Though They Did Not Understand
One notes, too, that the command they got was one they could not hope to understand. It was the very last thing they were expecting. Had He touched them with His touch of power they would have hailed Him then and there as their Deliverer. Probably they were expecting that, from the wonderful stories they had heard. But to be turned away, without one gracious word, and sent on what must have seemed a bootless errand, that was something they would not understand. I believe they were disappointed men. This was so utterly different from their dreams. It was with heavy hearts and downcast mien that they set out on the commanded journey. But the point is that they went, whatever the anguish in their hearts, and as they went they were healed. Obeying, though they could not comprehend, though everything was dark and difficult: obeying, though the road they had to travel seemed to take them far away from Him, they were revived, radiant health returned, they were no longer outcasts from society. Controlled by the mastership of Christ, they found themselves in the brotherhood of man. I believe that many who are praying for new revival ought really to be praying for new obedience. It is as we go on the commanded road that we experience the commanded blessing. Let the Church obey the command of the Lord Jesus, and with enthusiasm evangelize the nations, and, as she goes, she will be healed.