“AND Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?’’
Who among all the members of the body of Christ can say in full confidence, I am one out of ten that returned to give glory to God? Jesus was passing through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. “As he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on ns. 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. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 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. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” This is the simple gospel record of a miracle performed by our Lord Jesus Christ, with its attendant results. Whence cometh gospel comfort and gracious consolation out of this mystery of godliness to the saints of the living God! If the reader’s own heart’s experience in his travel from darkness to light can be portrayed from the narrative, then the writing will not be in vain. The outer garment which Jesus wore during his ministry was without seam, woven throughout in one perfect whole, beginning at the top, setting forth the complete fulfillment of the work of Christ in the salvation of sinners. That perfect, mysterious work began at the top (in heaven) when Jesus left the glory he had with the Father before the world was, working throughout with one continuous thread until the whole was completed, when he ascended unto his Father. So also the narrative already quoted presents to the mind of faith the work which Jesus came to do, and which is being done from the beginning to the end, without a flaw or a broken thread in all the way of salvation. Jesus entered into a certain village; like the seamless garment he must take the certain way which was laid out in the Father’s will; no chance work or happenings in all the work of Jesus. In this place “there met him ten men that were lepers.” Every man who is a leper is conscious of his disease, that it is horrible, that it is incurable, that it separates him from the whole world. The law of leprosy in Israel caused the leper to be separated from all Israel, to be placed without the camp, and if one approached he must stand afar off, crying, ‘Unclean, unclean.” This in type sets forth the work of the Spirit of Christ begun in the sinner; the leprosy of sin is upon him, he is convinced of sin, he stands afar off, conscious of his dreadful position, and like the poor “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.” So these ten lepers “stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” This is the feeling and the cry of the repenting sinner, who realizes that he is justly condemned under the violated, holy law of God. No one ever did cry unto Jesus for mercy until the heart was circnmcised and they were conscious of their need of mercy. Such prayers are always answered by Him who inditeth prayer and answereth it.
“And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” They as well as Jesus were still under the law, the work of the office of the priesthood must all be performed according as it was shown unto Moses on the mount. Thus he demanded obedience as he himself was obedient in all things.
“And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.” The law could not cleanse them, but the word of Jesus could cleanse them every whit.
“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.” This doth manifest true repentance, spiritual joy and a witnessing to the truth of the power of God. This man was a Samaritan, who had no dealing with the Jews, neither did he worship in Jerusalem, but in the mountains of Samaria.
“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed! but where are the nine!” Let us first place the one who returned to give glory to God in his proper position in the church, and then see if we can search out the nine who went on their several ways. In all the record of the word of the testimony of Jesus, both under the law and under the gospel, we find those who have been chosen unto salvation in different conditions and various circumstances, and in them all, all things have worked and are working together for good, to complete the way of salvation which God designed before the worlds were made. There has been manifest in all ages those who served the Lord with undivided hearts, and at the same time, others who because of worldly cares and the many weaknesses of the flesh appeared to be indifferent to the service and the love due Him who had so richly blessed them, yet they were subjects of the same salvation which is vouchsafed unto all the church of the living God. Such conditions and circumstances are clearly illustrated (as has been the case in all ages) in the memorable address of Joshua to the children of Israel in the closing days of his earthly pilgrimage: “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Many other parallel Scriptures show unto us that “many are called” unto salvation, to whom God’s work in the heart will make manifest in his own time, “but few are chosen “to be witnesses of him on the earth, and to shew forth his glory in a “whole heart” devotion and a whole life of service. The man who returned to give glory to God was a Samaritan, as has been said, and not a worshiper at Jerusalem, showing that God is no respecter of persons, but he taketh the beggar from the dunghill and setteth him among princes. This man is surely of that precious company, “the ransomed of the Lord [who] shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads;” of those whose heart is prepared to receive the seed sown, bringing forth fruit to the glory of God; he is of that number who forsake not the assembling of themselves together, “as the manner of some is;”. he is of that number who esteem every brother better than themselves, who desire to give God all the glory, and who obey the injunction, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” But the nine, what of them! Let us not for one moment lose sight of this one truth: that the whole ten were cleansed. Leprosy is the type of sin; as the power of the word of Jesus cleansed the ten lepers of their foul disease, so also the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin; he shed his blood for his own, those whom the Father had given him, therefore, being cleansed, all such are of the flock of the fold of Christ. Then having found the nine to be heirs of the kingdom, with the one who returned to give glory to God, we still must ask, “Where are the nine!” Let us remember that when we have come into the knowledge of the wondrous truth that our sins have been forgiven and that we are cleansed, that we are still in this body of flesh; the evil passions thereof have not been obliterated, only subdued, and we have been given a heart of flesh, wherewith we serve God with the measure of grace that is given unto us. “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” The fruit yielded in the life of the pilgrims of Zion is in the glory that is given to God in all their walk. As in the parable of the sower, so in the church of the living God we find “wayside” travelers, upon whom when the seed falls, the heart is hard and receiveth it not, but it lieth upon the surface and the fowls (evil thoughts) devour it, and there is no fruit. We also have stony place hearers, who have not much depth of earth, the seed springeth up, the sun falleth upon it and it withereth away, there is no fruit. Again, we find the thorny ground listeners, who, when the seed takes root and comes forth, the thorns (cares and anxieties of life, the pride of life, and of the eye,) choke it out, and there is no fruit. Can you not now see the nine where they are! But I think I hear you saying: Is this a transcript of their whole life! Do they never show forth God’s glory! Surely they do, all his works praise him. “He which hath begun a good work in you, will perforin it until the day of Jesus Christ.” His work therefore, which praiseth him and giveth him glory, perfects in each one of them his full salvation, and sets them down in that “great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, [which] stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” Of whom one of the Elders said to John: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” The nine therefore had the cares of the world upon them to the extent that their zeal and love were concealed; one his merchandize, another his oxen, and another his wife, until the Spirit wrought mightily in them to the subduing of the flesh. The Lord’s work in the hearts of the children of men is a fulfillment of the type which the Lord declared to Samuel when he said, “Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end.” The work of the Lord is indeed marvelous in our eyes.
B. F. COULTER
Philadelphia, Pa., May 7, 1908.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. 16.
AUGUST 15, 1908.