Digging Gold or Digging God?
Text: Luke 17:11-19 | Listen to Message
Is Jesus Your Sugar Daddy?
It’s a familiar enough children’s Bible story: Ten lepers were healed but only one bothered to return and actually thank Jesus. The standard lesson is something like, “Don’t be like the nine; be like the one and live with a heart of gratitude.”
But do you really think the other nine weren’t grateful? Lepers were “the walking dead.” Physically, they were gruesomely disfigured by an infectious disease that also made them ceremonially unclean – and thus unable to participate in the worshiping community. They were ostracized and forced lived as outcasts, untouchables, social pariah. The emotional and psychological toll must’ve been immense. Every day they longed to be healed. To be clean. To be someone.
Then one day, the itinerant faith healer Jesus made them whole again, as they believed he could. Suddenly their skin was restored, appendages reappeared, and they felt sensations they hadn’t felt in years. They would be able to go home and hug their families, go to the market, and go to synagogue! I think it’s fair to say they were probably all grateful.
So then why did only one of them return to express that gratitude? That’s the real question.
The answer is that the nine got exactly what they wanted. They got their healing – and it was enough for them. They got the gift they’d prayed for. See, their brief relationship with Jesus wasn’t about Jesus; it was about getting a gift from Jesus and then getting on with their lives.
The one? He wasn’t so eager to get on with his life. He wanted to know this extraordinary man who had the power to heal and cleanse him. You could say he wanted the Giver more than he wanted his gifts. And that made all the difference in the world.
When Jesus saw his worshipful, grateful response, he said to him, “Your faith has made you well.” That is, your faith has saved you. Nine were changed from the outside in; one was transformed from the inside out.
In modern terms, you could say the nine were gold diggers. Their primary interest in Jesus was material: “What can he do to give me what I want?” Jesus wasn’t their King – or even their friend; he was their sugar daddy. And when they got what they really wanted, they were long gone.
What about you? Why do you cry out to God? What is it that you want – what you really want – from him? Do you want his gifts or do you want the Giver? Do you want his presents or his presence?