Sunday School Lesson

May 8

Lesson 10

Grateful Faith

Devotional Reading: Colossians 3:12-17

Background Scripture: Luke 17:11-19

Luke 17:11-19

11And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

12And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

13And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

14And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

15And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,

16And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

17And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

18There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

19And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Key Verse

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God. —Luke 17:15

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Tell the story of the grateful Samaritan leper.

2. Explain how gratitude can be a barometer of one’s faith.

3. Write a prayer expressing gratitude.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Unending Ungratefulness

B. Lesson Background: Leprosy

C. Lesson Background: Samaritans

I. Ten Desperate Men (Luke 17:11-14)

A. Jerusalem Calls (v. 11)

B. Lepers Beg (vv. 12, 13)

C. Jesus Commands (v. 14)

II. One Grateful Man (Luke 17:15-19)

A. Samaritan’s Return (vv. 15, 16)

B. Jesus’ Concern (vv. 17, 18)

Attitude of Ingratitude?

C. Jesus’ Declaration (v. 19)

Faith Healers

Conclusion

A. Healing Faith

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember

Introduction

 

A. Unending Ungratefulness

Those who live in Western democracies enjoy standards of living that people of centuries past would scarcely comprehend. By one estimate, those in the very bottom 10 percent of income in America are in the top 30 percent of income in the world as a whole. Relatively few in such a culture lack basic necessities, yet many are dissatisfied. Why is that? Shouldn’t people who have so much be happy and content?

Author Steve Maraboli observes that, “The more I understand the mind and the human experience, the more I begin to suspect there is no such thing as unhappiness; there is only ungratefulness.” Is he right? Are the happiest people those who are most grateful?

The religious heritage of ancient Israel linked gladness with thanksgiving. Joy, praise, and gratitude are interconnected (see Psalms 35:18; 69:30; 95:2; 100:4). Key elements of worship included both rejoicing and giving thanks. An oft-repeated worship refrain centers on thankfulness: “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 118:1; compare Jeremiah 33:11). There is a fuzzy distinction at best between praising God and thanking God, both being at the very heart of worship.

Even so, the Bible depicts many ungrateful people. The history of the exodus could have been that of a celebration and quick victory march into the promised land. But grumbling, griping, and murmuring made it otherwise (see Deuteronomy 1:27). The dissatisfied heart always wants more, and greediness nullifies gratefulness. Even so, God “is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:35). This week’s lesson looks at a mighty act of kindness bestowed on 10 desperate men, of whom only one exhibited gratefulness. As we consider this account, may we search our own hearts to see if greed or gratefulness is our primary color.

B. Lesson Background: Leprosy

My father was a practicing physician for over 40 years. He once returned from a medical meeting in California where an acquaintance had taken him to a local hospital to see a special case: a patient who had been diagnosed with leprosy, now known as Hansen’s disease. The friend claimed that his was the only known case in the state. It was also the only time in my father’s long medical career that he had any contact with this ancient disease.

Relatively few people today are afflicted with this loathsome, legendary ailment. There are perhaps no more than 300 new cases annually in the U.S. But leprosy was well known in the ancient world, being described in the records of many cultures. Left unchecked, the disease results in visible lesions and deformations. Traditionally, those so afflicted have been forced to live under quarantine conditions, even into modern times. Leprosy was incurable until the advent of antibiotic drug therapies in the twentieth century.

Leprosy as described in the Old Testament probably included a wide range of afflictions of the skin, not just Hansen’s disease as we know it today. Laws concerning lepers are found especially in Leviticus 13:1-46; 14:1-32. To be a leper was to be “unclean,” often permanently. Those so afflicted had to warn others with cries of “unclean, unclean” (13:45) and were required to live apart (13:46). Therefore, lepers suffered not only from the illness itself but also from being ostracized socially. That was the condition of the 10 men of this lesson.

C. Lesson Background: Samaritans

At least one of the lepers in today’s lesson was a Samaritan. Samaritans, who lived in central Palestine, were distant relatives of first-century Jews. There was great animosity between the two groups in Jesus’ day (see Luke 9:51-53; John 4:9; 8:48), a type of bitter tribalism that had been fueled by centuries of negative incidents. The Old Testament traces the time line of these from 2 Kings 17 through Ezra 4 and Nehemiah 4. The period of time between the Old and New Testaments saw further antagonism develop.

How to Say It

Bartimaeus Bar-tih-me-us.

Galilean Gal-uh-lee-un.

Galilee Gal-uh-lee.

Gerizim Gair-ih-zeem or Guh-rye-zim.

kyrie eleison (Greek) keer-ee-ey eh-lay-uh-sawn.

Leviticus Leh-vit-ih-kus.

Moses Mo-zes or Mo-zez.

Samaria Suh-mare-ee-uh.

Samaritans Suh-mare-uh-tunz.

Shechem Shee-kem or Shek-em.

Concerning lepers, the Samaritans followed the regulations found in Leviticus. This included exclusion from regular village life of those so afflicted. The 10 diseased outcasts of this week’s lesson seem to have consisted of both Jews and Samaritans. We can liken this to a homeless camp made up of folks from divergent backgrounds, having been thrown together by desperate circumstances.

I. Ten Desperate Men

                                                                  (Luke 17:11-14)

 

A. Jerusalem Calls (v. 11)

11. And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

Jesus and His followers are still on the way to Jerusalem for Passover—Jesus’ final Passover. This Gospel marks this final trip as beginning in Luke 9:51. At that time, Jesus had sent messengers ahead “into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:52, 53; see the Lesson Background regarding this animosity).

Jesus prefers to minister in places that are open to His message, so He bypassed that particular Samaritan village (Luke 9:53; compare 9:5; 10:10, 11). He does not avoid Samaria as a whole, however, since the verse before us says He is passing through the midst of Samaria and Galilee (compare John 4:4). No geographical features separate the two areas in an obvious way. The distinction is determined by the makeup of the villages, with the Jewish villages of Galilee lying to the north of the Samaritan region. The Samaritans, for their part, are centered in the Shechem valley near Mount Gerizim and the surrounding area, roughly 25 miles due north of Jerusalem.

B. Lepers Beg (vv. 12, 13)

12. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off.

We are not told if this certain village is Galilean (Jewish) or Samaritan. Both Jews and Samaritans isolate lepers (see the Lesson Background), so it may be either.

The fact that the 10 noted to be lepers stand afar off is in compliance with the Law of Moses (see Leviticus 13:46; Numbers 5:2). They stay near the village, where some of them may have family members who provide food and clothing. But the men do not venture close. Lepers who ignore the expectation of maintaining proper distance might be driven away by having rocks thrown at them from fear and loathing.

13. And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

The physical distance between Jesus and the lepers—perhaps a hundred yards or more—is highlighted by the need for the men to raise their voices to be heard. The author gives the impression that they shout in unison, indicating a plan formulated before Jesus’ visit.

These 10 men therefore seem to have access to the community grapevine of information, despite their isolation. Friends or relatives who provide for them likely have shared stories they have heard about Jesus as a healer. The preparedness of this band of desperate men indicates that Jesus’ arrival at this particular village is expected and eagerly anticipated.

Their cry is a simple request for Jesus to have mercy. This is not a plea for a specific action, but a general appeal for favorable attention. Behind this request is the awareness that Jesus is a compassionate Master. If He notices the plight of the lepers, then He may extend His healing power to relieve their suffering.

Requests for God’s mercy occur frequently in the Psalms (examples: Psalms 30:10; 51:1; 57:1). The entreaty “have mercy” also occurs in Luke 16:24; 18:38, 39. In choral music, the Latin phrase kyrie eleison, meaning “Lord, have mercy,” is familiar (in particular, the first movement of Mozart’s Coronation Mass in C major).

There is sad irony in this request from these 10 men. They have experienced precious little mercy in the recent past. They have been excluded from their homes. They likely are targets of jests and taunts by the young boys of the village (compare 2 Kings 2:23). And most of all, they probably believe that God is punishing them in a merciless fashion (compare John 9:2).

Many things can cause a person to become unclean temporarily (example: Numbers 19:11). But since there is no effective cure for leprosy in this day, to be afflicted by this ailment is usually to remain permanently in an unclean status—a life sentence. This is why leprosy is so feared. Its appearance is a life-altering event that usually ends only with death.

C. Jesus Commands (v. 14)

14. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

The simple command Go shew yourselves unto the priests is for the purpose of verifying that the men no longer have the signs of leprosy. This task is a responsibility entrusted to priests under the Law of Moses (see Leviticus 14:2, 3; compare Luke 5:14). A positive certification will mean that the 10 men will be able to resume their roles in family and village life.

There is a bit of drama to this healing that we will overlook if we do not read carefully. The text does not indicate that the 10 are healed immediately (contrast Luke 5:12, 13). Instead, the impression we are given is that healing comes only as the 10 with leprosy obey Jesus by beginning to walk away from Him to seek out the priests. It is at that point in time the symptoms of leprosy vanish.

We assume this means deformed fingers are made whole, and skin lesions disappear. Hair that had become unnaturally white (Leviticus 13:2, 3) returns to its natural color. And certainly those just feel better! They realize their trip to the priests is not a fool’s errand, but rather is the first step in reclaiming their normal lives.

A simple lesson here is that faith that results in obedience leads to healing (compare 2 Kings 5). For the 10 individuals of our text, this is physical healing. For us, it may be spiritual healing, a cleansing of our leprous, unclean hearts when we obediently follow Jesus (Acts 2:38-41).

What Do You Think?

When have you had a need met in such a way that God’s involvement was clear? How did you grow spiritually from this experience?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding a family situation

Regarding a medical need

Regarding a housing need

Other

II. One Grateful Man

                                                                   (Luke 17:15-19)

 

A. Samaritan’s Return (vv. 15, 16)

15. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.

One of the healed men postpones his trip to the priests. Seeing all symptoms of his leprosy disappear, he makes a U-turn back to Jesus. And he doesn’t come quietly! His previous cry of “unclean, unclean” (Leviticus 13:45) is now replaced with praise. Perhaps the man is glorifying God for the first time in many years. He recognizes the miracle of healing and knows its source.

What Do You Think?

What experiences have helped you be more grateful for God’s blessings?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding blessings via other Christians

Regarding blessings via unbelievers

Regarding blessings directly from God himself

16a. And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks.

For the man to fall down on his face is the posture of worship, appropriate only for worshipping God (see Revelation 19:10). This is the man’s instinctive reaction. He may not understand everything that has just happened, but one thing he does know: this man, Jesus, is God’s instrument in causing him to be healed, to be cleansed. The man has been shown mercy!

In the midst of this startling turn of events, the man cleansed of leprosy does the right thing. This man, who has suffered more than most of us can imagine, has not lost his humanity. His suffering may have caused doubts, but he still believes that God is in control—he knows that God is worthy of worship, praise, and thanksgiving.

16b. And he was a Samaritan.

Here is the surprise twist to the story. The Jews consider the Samaritans to be something like inferior cousins (see the Lesson Background). How can it be that a Samaritan is the only one who understands that God should be glorified and Jesus be thanked for the healing? The irony of this is similar to that of Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35), where a Samaritan is the only one who understands what love for one’s neighbor truly is.

What Do You Think?

What was an occasion you were surprised by someone’s expression of gratitude? What did this teach you?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding a short-term need

Regarding a long-term need

B. Jesus’ Concern (vv. 17, 18)

17, 18. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

In posing the questions we see here, Jesus transforms this miracle event into a teaching opportunity. The questions are almost like a mathematical story-problem: If 10 individuals are healed from leprosy, how many should give thanks and glory to God? What—only 1 came back to do so? What has happened to the other 9? Has God’s miraculous power failed and the 9 are still unclean lepers who have run away in bitter disappointment? No, that is not the case, because everyone present knows that all 10 have been cleansed. The 9 neglect to give thanks.

What Do You Think?

How can we do better at expressing gratitude?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Concerning methods for doing so

Concerning increasing our awareness of a need to do so

Other

Another curiosity is that the one who did come back is, of all people, a non-Jew, a stranger! This is a subtle rebuke to the Jews within earshot who assume that they are superior to Samaritans. In the end, relationship with God is demonstrated by one’s actions, not by ancestral connections or lack thereof (see Luke 3:8).

Attitude of Ingratitude?

A few years ago, a Florida TV station reported on a mother of 15 children who was complaining about a lack of help from social services. She had indeed been receiving assistance, and the father of 10 of her children also had provided some support. But after he was arrested, she was evicted from her apartment and ended up in a hotel room with 12 of the children. She lashed out: “Somebody needs to pay for all my children. ... Somebody needs to be held accountable, and they need to pay.”

The video went viral on the Internet, chalking up over 180,000 viewings. As you might expect, the woman’s attitude resulted in a firestorm of criticism. On the other hand, she also received sympathetic responses from people who offered various reasons for why she was justified in feeling unfairly treated. Overall, however, many felt that her statements indicated a lack of gratitude for the support that others had provided.

Attitudes of ingratitude have a long history! Had the nine who didn’t return to Jesus simply never learned to express gratitude? Were they so overjoyed at being healed that, as they ran to share the news, they forgot to thank Jesus in the process? Did they feel that they were entitled to their healings, given their lengthy suffering? Let us remember: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).—C. R. B.

C. Jesus’ Declaration (v. 19)

19. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

After addressing the onlookers, Jesus turns to the Samaritan himself with the declarations we see here. The man’s new life has begun, and he can get up and go about his business, which first entails getting the blessing of the priests. The man is right to give the credit for the healing to God, but Jesus teaches him a lesson as well: it is through his faith that he has been healed.

This does not mean that the man has had the power to heal himself all along. It does not mean that the power of his personal faith in and of itself has brought about the healing. It means, rather, that his trust in God (as demonstrated by his initial act of obedience to seek out the priests) is pleasing to God, by whose power the leprosy has been vanquished.

What Do You Think?

How does an “attitude of gratitude” contribute to a growing faith?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding the Christian’s outlook on so-called entitlements

Romans 6:17, 23; 7:25

1 Corinthians 15:57

Ephesians 2:8, 9

Other

Faith Healers

Medical charlatans have a long and colorful history. Purveyance of “snake oil” is not limited to centuries past, as hucksters even now promote products as miracle cures for a myriad of ailments. Christians are targets, and some practitioners of fraudulent “faith healing” are occasionally exposed in the process.

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry is an organization that specializes in examining claims that involve the paranormal; a bias against anything supernatural seems to be foundational to their work. Faith healers provide fodder for the skepticism of committee members. In at least one notable case, a well-known healer was proven to be receiving information via radio transmissions from backstage, messages that the healer claimed to be a “word from God” regarding an affliction to be cured. He frequently “cured” nonexistent ailments.

Unfortunately, charlatans parading as faith healers create doubt even among Christians as to whether God will heal. Indeed, He can and does! But for reasons of His own, God does not always choose to do so (compare 2 Corinthians 12:7-9). We keep in mind that the healing of one’s spirit is more important than the healing of one’s body, which eventually perishes anyway.—C. R. B.

Conclusion

 

A. Healing Faith

This week’s story is not a lesson that any Christian can be healed if he or she simply has enough faith. The darker side of such an idea is to believe that any Christian who suffers from illness or ailment is lacking in faith. Certainly, the lesson is about the importance of faith, but it is much more a lesson about the need for gratefulness whenever God blesses us.

Several times in the Gospels, Jesus heals people and pronounces that their faith has made them whole. Examples include the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:43-48) and blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52). There is a double meaning for one of the words in these texts, for a term in Greek that is translated “made ... whole” is the same word that is translated “saved” in verses like John 3:17: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Healing and salvation are both signs of being made whole.

While we might be skeptical of some claims of healing in the church today, there is no need to dismiss them all. Our God is a God of healing, a lesson that Jesus taught repeatedly in His ministry. Miraculous healing is a gift of God; it is not something to be controlled by a human. Certain individuals might be instruments of God’s healing power, but God is the one from whom healing comes.

Visual for Lesson 10. Point to this visual as you pose the discussion question that is associated with verses 17, 18.

Although we may never have witnessed it, a miraculous healing of a physical ailment would be easy for us to understand. If a person had visible symptoms of leprosy that suddenly disappeared, then we would conclude that God had acted. But the Bible accounts of such miracles should push our thoughts beyond that of physical healing. They should push us to understand how our hearts need to be healed. Our hearts have been diseased by sin, hardened by selfishness, and broken by loss. Can they ever be made whole?

Here is the lesson: the grateful man who had leprosy was healed in more than body; his heart was made whole as well. That’s what the other nine missed—how sad! Healing begins with faith, with trusting God. We begin to heal when we yield our independence and throw ourselves into the arms of our Father. Healing is nurtured when we follow this faith with gratefulness as expressed through praise and thanksgiving. If a physician saves my life through skillful heart surgery, it would be natural to want to thank him or her. How much more should we turn and thank God, who heals our hearts and makes us whole for eternity!

B. Prayer

O God, heal our hearts! Teach us to praise You gratefully even in the midst of trouble. We pray this in the name of the one who healed the lepers: Jesus our Lord. Amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Healing begins with faith.


May 15

Lesson 11

Humble Faith

Devotional Reading: Micah 6:6-8; 7:18, 19

Background Scripture: Luke 18:9-14

Luke 18:9-14

9And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Key Verse

The publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. —Luke 18:13

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. List the attitudes and actions of the publican (tax collector) and the Pharisee.

2. Explain the inverse relationship between humiliation and exaltation.

3. Examine his or her own approach to humility and make a plan for corrective action.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Society’s Extremes

B. Lesson Background: Pharisees

C. Lesson Background: Publicans

I. Parable’s Target (Luke 18:9)

A. View of Self (v. 9a)

B. View of Others (v. 9b)

15,000 Articles?

II. Tale of Two Men (Luke 18:10-13)

A. Trips to the Temple (v. 10)

B. Story of Self-Praise (vv. 11, 12)

C. Story of Self-Humiliation (v. 13)

III. Lesson in Exaltation (Luke 18:14)

A. Different Outcomes (v. 14a)

B. Different Life Patterns (v. 14b)

At What? Compared with Whom?

Conclusion

A. The Source of Humility

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember


Standard Lesson Commentary 2015-2016 (KJV).

"Suggestions for families are taken from Standardlesson.com,

Standard Publishing Group, LLC. Used with permission. More resources for families are available at Standardpub.com.


God Bless