Text: "Then, one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks" (Luke 17:15).
Thought: As we walk through this miracle account, we are fixing our eyes on Jesus to see why we ought to be at His feet as well-offering Him praise and thanksgiving. We ought to be at Jesus' feet not only because Jesus' Extends Divine Mercy (17:11-14a), and because Jesus Provides Total Cleansing (17:14b-15a), and because Jesus Receives Sincere Gratitude (17:15b-18), but also and finally because Jesus Affirms Saving Faith (17:19).
The Samaritan had already offered his sacrifice of praise for his cleansing at the feet of Jesus. Whether he would go to a priest later does not seem to be clear from the end of the account. Jesus tells the man to "rise and go your way." Then there are these important words, "your faith has made you well." Now we know that Jesus healed the man, and faith was the necessary response to the words of Jesus. It was in the light of the faith expressed that the healing took place.
Let's go deeper-another translation of this verse could be, "your faith has saved you." That word "save" can refer to almost any form of deliverance, temporal or eternal. Even if Jesus is just referring to his physical deliverance, "You faith has led to your leprosy being healed," it certainly at least points to salvation in the broader or wider or deeper sense. Knowing Luke's emphasis on Jesus as Savior and the salvation He brings, Luke wants us to recognize that Jesus is the Savior, and that faith in Jesus and thanksgiving directed to Jesus are the right responses to who He is and the salvation He brings.
These words of Jesus affirm the faith of the Samaritan, a faith that he may have shared to some degree with the other men who were cleansed, but a faith that brought him back to the feet of Jesus with praise and thanksgiving. The Samaritan had a grateful faith. There were nine others that should have been there at the Savior's feet, but they weren't. Only one responds in a way that is an example for us in this passage of Scripture. There are many truths presented in this text, but one of its unique features is the emphasis on the one who fell at Jesus' feet. Yes, He cried out for mercy and received cleansing, but also he worshipped at the feet of Jesus and received words of affirmation concerning his faith. Such grateful faith is approved by our Lord and is the kind of faith that is "saving faith."
Thrust: It may be today that we are seeking His divine mercy and touch afresh in our lives. He is adequate. He sees, He knows, He responds. It may be that we need to be forgiven and cleansed from sin, we need to recognize that Jesus is the savior who went to Jerusalem to die on a cross to be our substitute and to pay the penalty for sin. He is the one who grants forgiveness and cleansing from sin as we trust in Him. It may be that we just need to express our praise and thanksgiving even as this Samaritan did because of what the Lord has done for us. Lastly, it may be that we need to hear His words affirming and strengthening our faith as we are in His presence.
David L. Olford teaches expository preaching at Union University's Stephen Olford Center in Memphis, Tennessee.