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Where are the nine?

Pastoral Letter
November 2010

Dear Fellow Servants:

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

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

However, one of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back. Even before he was certified 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’ feet acknowledging 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 looked down upon from the time of the rebuilding of the temple after the Babylonian Captivity. He was the least of the ten It was unexpected that this Samaritan would have been the one whore turned 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 their physical needs – feed the 5,000, heal their diseases, drive out the Romans. But they did not follow 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 own people? 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 look sat us as congregations and as pastors. He has poured His saving grace into our lives. Jesus has blessed us with undeserved healing and care. Consider the blessings Jesus has given to you 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 this forgiveness to you through the Word and Sacraments. Jesus sustains your families through the 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 inwardly sigh, “Where are the nine?” We think back upon the many young people who took their confirmation vows and think, “Where are the nine?” We consider the growth rate of our congregations and our church body. Very few care today. “Where are the nine?” This Thanksgiving Day there are so few who return to Jesus praising and giving thanks to God for His gifts of healing forgiveness and eternal life. “Where are the nine?” It seems that the more Jesus 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 and motives in our ministries and more important our personal faith lives. Does Jesus look at what He 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 go your way, your faith has made you well.” Jesus strengthened this man in his faith. Jesus was happy over one sinner who was lost and now was found. Jesus encouraged the leper in his faith and his thanksgiving and praise to his Savior God. Rejoice in the one who comes to hear the Word you are privileged to proclaim. Rejoice in the one who dies trusting in Jesus alone for forgiveness and life. Rejoice in that one who unexpectedly shows up and hungers and thirsts after righteousness.

Jesus takes care of you day by day giving you what you need for body and life. Jesus died at the 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 faith through the Gospel and made you one of God’s special people and children. He feeds you with the Bread of Life and meets your spiritual needs with the Water of Life. He has washed you in Baptism and keeps you in the faith until the end. By faith, you realize this, and praise God and give thanks to Jesus. What a miracle! You, the outsider Samaritan, have returned to thank Jesus 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 home but to the work of the CLC. This is a special time to remember the mercies of our Savior God.