Where are the nine?

Written by | November, 2010
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Pastoral Letter
November 2010

Dear Fellow Servants:

Ten lepers called out in a loud voice, recipe “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” They probably hadheard of Jesus’ healing miracles in Galilee. The report of Jesus’ power had spread throughoutthe entire region. They addressed Jesus as Master. They also appealed to Jesus for mercyand healing compassion. They believed that Jesus had the power to help them, and theyappealed to His mercy for help.

Jesus did not ignore them or their needs. Jesus told them to go and show themselves to thepriest for confirmation that they were healed. They obeyed Jesus and His words in the hope ofbeing healed. Luke tells us of their faith. They set out for the priest, and “as they went theywere cleansed.”

However, one of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back. Even before he wascertified as “clean,” one man came back to Jesus. All the way back, he was praising God with aloud voice. He gave all glory to God and to Jesus, His Savior. He fell down at Jesus’ feetacknowledging Him as Lord. And he gave thanks. The one who returned was a Samaritan.The Samaritans were that mixed race with a mixed religion that the Jews hated and lookeddown upon from the time of the rebuilding of the temple after the Babylonian Captivity. He wasthe least of the ten It was unexpected that this Samaritan would have been the one whoreturned to give thanks to Jesus.

Jesus sadly asked, “Were not ten cleansed?” The obvious question is “Where are the nine?”Jesus often experienced this in His ministry. People were happy if He would satisfy theirphysical needs – feed the 5,000, heal their diseases, drive out the Romans. But they did notfollow Him when He told them to deny themselves, take up their crosses, and follow Him.Where were the people of God to whom God had promised a Messiah and chosen as His ownpeople? Jesus died alone rejected, not only by the world, but by His own people. At the cross,Jesus might have sighed, “Where are the nine?”

Jesus looks down on our world in the last days and sadly asks, “Where are nine?” Jesus looksat us as congregations and as pastors. He has poured His saving grace into our lives. Jesushas blessed us with undeserved healing and care. Consider the blessings Jesus has given toyou and your members. Consider the spiritual blessings Jesus has poured out upon you.

Jesus died for the sins of the world. “Where are the nine?” Jesus has announced thisforgiveness to you through the Word and Sacraments. Jesus sustains your families throughthe means of grace – the Gospel in Word and Sacraments. Jesus asks, “Where are the nine?’”Jesus has rescued you from sin and from death and hell. “Where are the nine?”

As pastors during Sunday morning Bible Class and Worship Service, we look out and inwardlysigh, “Where are the nine?” We think back upon the many young people who took theirconfirmation vows and think, “Where are the nine?” We consider the growth rate of ourcongregations and our church body. Very few care today. “Where are the nine?” ThisThanksgiving Day there are so few who return to Jesus praising and giving thanks to God forHis gifts of healing forgiveness and eternal life. “Where are the nine?” It seems that the moreJesus does for us the greater the temptation to take for granted His gifts.

Perhaps we as pastors should take time this Thanksgiving to examine our own hearts andmotives in our ministries and more important our personal faith lives. Does Jesus look at whatHe has provided for us and ask, “Where are the nine?”

Jesus rejoiced in the “one” who returned to give thanks, Then Jesus said to him, “Rise and goyour way, your faith has made you well.” Jesus strengthened this man in his faith. Jesus washappy over one sinner who was lost and now was found. Jesus encouraged the leper in hisfaith and his thanksgiving and praise to his Savior God. Rejoice in the one who comes to hearthe Word you are privileged to proclaim. Rejoice in the one who dies trusting in Jesus alone forforgiveness and life. Rejoice in that one who unexpectedly shows up and hungers and thirstsafter righteousness.

Jesus takes care of you day by day giving you what you need for body and life. Jesus died atthe cross to save you from your sins. Jesus rose from the dead to give you everlasting life.Jesus has entered into your life with healing from the leprosy of sin. He has called you to faiththrough the Gospel and made you one of God’s special people and children. He feeds you withthe Bread of Life and meets your spiritual needs with the Water of Life. He has washed you inBaptism and keeps you in the faith until the end. By faith, you realize this, and praise God andgive thanks to Jesus. What a miracle! You, the outsider Samaritan, have returned to thankJesus with your life and humble service. You are the “one.”
May God fill your hearts and lives with thanksgiving every day of your ministry.

John Schierenbeck, CLC President

I would encourage you and your members to give thanks by thankful giving not only at homebut to the work of the CLC. This is a special time to remember the mercies of our Savior God.