As the pastor read Luke 17 aloud, I saw something I hadn't noticed before. The sermon was on the ten men with leprosy. It was Thanksgiving weekend. The sermon was on being thankful. That's not what I noticed though. Read the scripture below (the underlining is mine).
11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
The pastor pointed out that the Samaritan was an outsider. We read that often, right? The story of The Good Samaritan...the thankfulness of the Samaritan. It's pointed out to us, but yesterday it hit me differently. The Samaritan isn't of the faith practice they often refer to in the Bible. The Samaritan is someone different, an outsider, someone that others feel like couldn't possible be as religious and good as they are. As I read that, I thought, "Muslim."
Jesus didn't say, "In spite of you being a Samaritan, I'm going to have mercy on you anyway." He also didn't say, "Now go and become a Christian." He simply said, "Your faith has made you whole." Faith. That's it.
Sometimes the people we least expect have more faith and believe in Jesus more than we Christians do (I'm sure that might have been painful to read...it was painful the first time I realized it).
People who are poor...people who are Muslim...people who make bad choices in life...all people of faith. I don't see any conditions here. He simply said "faith." Faith in something greater than themselves. Faith in the power to be healed. He didn't say the guy was less of a person or less deserving because his religion wasn't what the Bible (that would be produced later) would say was the "right" way.
He acknowledged the man's faith. Now that's the Jesus I know!