St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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Scripture: “and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.” – Luke 17:16

Why did Luke include the fact that this leper who returned was a Samaritan? This is to show us that there are two types of people who seek to serve God. The first kind comes dressed in the appearance of piety. They have a great, spiritual life, a holy life, and are all wrapped up in it, but it’s all for not. For inwardly they are but ravenous wolves. Because the appear godly, they benefit from all the world has including friendships, goods, honor, and loyalty.

The other type are of the opposite appearance on the outside. They have no show or name, no greatness, no worthiness in the eyes of the world, and to mere eyes they seem the least of God’s people.

Consider the Jews during our Lord’s time. They had a name and reputation of being God’s people and were thought to have right worship and true piety, that God preferred them over all the people of the world. They despised the Samaritans above all because they, too, claimed to be God’s people. The Samaritans were, to the Jews, what apostates are to Christians today. And it WAS true that the Samaritans did not have the right to belief and that the Jews had the true Law and temple. And it is also true, to this day, that God LOVES the truth and is at odds with hypocrisy and false worship and belief, along with all its boasting. Yet, Jesus turns around and accepts the Samaritans and lets the Jews go. He calls those who, by external appearance are not His people to be His people, and those who are His people He rejects and calls heretics and apostates and even the devil’s children.

Today God seems to judge the same. Let us guard, therefore, against everything that makes the faith only a show, an outward appearance of holiness and godliness, and let us instead do as this Samaritan, fall to our knees without any worth or outside appearance of good but only a thankful heart once sick with sin, so that we do not reject Christ as the Jews did.

Lord God, heavenly Father, You call those who are Your people NOT Your people, and those not Your people you lift up and call Your people. Keep me from adorning myself with the appearance of worthiness but instead clothe me in the righteousness of Your only Son, in whose name I pray, amen.