There is a story of a man who was lost in the woods. When describing the experience, he talks about how frightened he was and how he eventually knelt and prayed. Someone asked, “Did God answer your prayer?” “Oh, no,” the man replied. “Before God had a chance, a guide came along and showed me the way out.”
The scripture we heard this morning is about vision and thankfulness, something the man in the woods did not have.
The Gospel of Luke tells us that on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus met 10 men with leprosy, they cried out “Jesus, master have pity on us.” Jesus had pity and told them “go and show yourself to the priest.” This is what is prescribed in Leviticus 14, so they went. But one of them was a Samaritan and we know that Samaritans and Jews did not get along, so instead of going to the temple, -which he could not do even if he wanted- he went back to Jesus, praising God in loud voice and threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. And Luke emphasized that he was a Samaritan.
When Jesus answered the cry of these men; when he healed them, did he intended to only clean their skin? Or was there something else? What was Jesus’ intention behind this miracle? Or any other miracle. I believe that every miracle Jesus performed, whether healing a leper or making a paralytic walk or any other miracle, was done as a way of guiding that person and whoever witnessed the miracle, back to God. With every miracle performed Jesus opened the door to the kingdom and it was up to the individuals to enter or to stay out. Every miracle and every prayer that he answers is an invitation to throw ourselves at Jesus’ feet and praise God.
This may sound strange, but I believe this story is the story of one miracle and nine half miracles. The full miracle took place in the life of the Samaritan who came back. Why? because, he not only got his skin cleansed, but his heart cleansed as well. His miracle began when he was far from Jesus, crying out “Jesus, master, have mercy on us” and was completed when he came close to Jesus, praising God and surrendering his life to the one who had restored his life. This Samaritan seems to know that healing needs to take place inside as well as outside.
I know -and you may to- many people who pray and worship God but reject the religious life and seek only the gifts from God and not the person of Christ. They are as the other nine who experienced God’s power, love and mercy, but that was all, as far as we know they received what they asked for and continued with their lives. They were superficially cleaned only. They were far away when they asked for the miracle and they stayed away after they received the miracle. They asked for pity and they received it. They allowed God to work on their needs but then shut their hearts to him. Because of this, they couldn’t see or hear God’s invitation into his kingdom. I call them “half miracle people.”
When the Samaritan threw himself at Jesus’ feet, Jesus told him “go”. Go because you don’t belong to this isolated place anymore, go with your family, go to your work, go and have the kind of life God wants you to have. No miracle is complete until God’s will is fulfilled in one’s life.
The difference between the nine and the one was their vision. The nine saw a healer, the immediate source of help for their problem. The Samaritan saw the answer to all his problems- heart and body. The nine saw a useful healer able to remove the barrier preventing them from living their life. The Samaritan saw the end to his quest for healing inside, as well as outside. The nine sought the blessings and approval of the priest. The Samaritan praised God and sought his approval and his blessing. In the end the Samaritan saw a greater vision, the immediate source of help for the world, the door to a new world. He saw a Savior. Vision makes all the difference in the world for the world.
Have you ever experienced a miracle in your life? Have you ever cried out, “Jesus, master have mercy on me” and heard His voice saying, “don’t worry I am here”? Have you ever cried out for something and received exactly or more than you have asked? Have you ever asked yourself what was God’s intention with this miracle? Is he wanting to lift us up because we’re down? Does he want to provide us with what we need? Does he only want to take our pain away or restore our health? Or there is something more?
A miracle, my brothers and sisters is not only God’s way of letting us know he hears our cry, it is not only God’s way of providing what we need, or a way to remove our sorrows and pain. A miracle is God’s way of saying “I love you and I don’t want you far away from me” “I love you and I don’t want you to continue in that condition. Come. Come to me and let me fulfill my salvation in your life”.
My brothers and sisters, every one of us is either a full miracle or a half miracle. If you have experienced God’s hand in your life, if you have heard his voice calling you and you haven’t come to him and surrendered your life yet, you are a half miracle. You are a miracle waiting to be complete. If you have cried out and God answered by pouring out his blessing over you and you have yet to come and throw yourself at Jesus’ feet, you are still a half miracle waiting to be complete. A miracle is only completed when God’s action, God’s interventions in our lives transform our hearts and minds. A miracle is not completed until the mouth that cried out for mercy confesses the name of Jesus as Savior and God.
What are you? What am I? Are we half of a miracle or a complete miracle? If you are a complete miracle, praise the Lord; if you are a miracle waiting to be completed don’t let this opportunity pass by, surrender your life to Jesus. Don’t conform yourself with just receiving what you asked for, close the circle and give yourself to God.