Text: Luke 17:11–19
Theme: The story of your life
Other Lessons: Ruth 1:1–19a; Psalm 111; 2 Timothy 2:1–13
A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Gospel lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
846 Your Hand, O Lord, in Days of Old
Your hand, O Lord, in days of old
Was strong to heal and save;
It triumphed over ills and death,
O’er darkness and the grave.
To You they came, the blind, the mute,
The palsied and the lame,
The lepers in their misery,
The sick with fevered frame.
A. A biography is someone’s life story, written by another.
1. The word biography comes from two Greek words meaning “life” and
2. A biography is part history and part novel.
3. Often, we read the biography of a well-known person because of a pivotal
moment or series of events that brought him or her notoriety.
4. The author interprets every fact and anecdote of their subject’s life in
light of that pivotal moment.
B. If someone was writing your biography, what themes would that person
1. A common figure of speech used when something bad happens to a person
who believes their life is often marked by bad times is “That’s the story
of my life.”
2. In similar fashion, periods of our lives in where we are plagued by sin,
guilt and shame, or sadness, these times are often referred to as “bad
chapters” or “we are in a bad place.”
3. Are there chapters or places from your past that you might ask your
biographer to leave out?
C. The life of Christ intersected with a Samaritan with leprosy in today’s
Gospel, and that man’s biography took on a whole new theme.
1. For him, like you, Your Life’s Story Is the Story of Your Life in Christ.
I. The Samaritan leper’s life story was perhaps quite bad until today’s
encounter with Christ.
A. We know very few details of this Samaritan’s life, but we can guess they
made for a sad story.
1. Being a Samaritan didn’t just make one a subject of Jewish prejudice; it
meant you grew up with a corrupted religion, a skewed view of God.
A. The Jews despised the Samaritans because of historic betrayals and
B. Here is a brief “biography” of the Samaritans:
1. A people whose Jewish heritage had been adulterated through
intermarriage and whose observance of Judaism was regarded as corrupted.
2. Samaritans descended from Israelites left behind after Samaria’s
destruction (722 BC) and included foreigners imported by Assyrian kings (2
Kings 17: 24– 28, 33– 34).
3. They inhabited the area between Judea and Galilee.
4. They accepted only the Five Books of Moses as authoritative, worshiped
on Mount Gerizim, and rejected Jerusalem as the proper place of worship.
5. Most Jews regarded Samaritans as outside the bounds of the covenant
people and avoided them (Lk 9: 52– 53).
6. Long-standing and deep-seated hostility existed between Jews and
2. Being ostracized because of one’s ethnicity or lack thereof was bad
A. And then came leprosy;
B. we don’t know how he contracted it.
C. What we do know is that it meant exclusion from family, friends, a
living, any pleasure.
D. A death sentence while you are very much alive!
3. Now his only friends seem to be people who’d probably hate him—if their
lives weren’t so pathetic.
B. But then there’s this encounter with Jesus.
1. With what little we know about this Samaritan, the whole world knows
volumes about Jesus—and with good reason:
C. a perfect life,
D. a death for the sins of the whole world,
E. resurrection from the dead for the whole world.
2. And now this Samaritan leper is also eternally famous:
A. for the miracle Jesus did in his life
B. and for his faith in his Savior.
3. Even the word Samaritan has now become famous rather than infamous:
A. “At the start of the journey to Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples came
to a Samaritan village that refused to welcome him.
B. James and John were rebuked by Jesus when they wanted to call down fire
to destroy that village (Luke 9:51–55).”
C. But now “the disciples are learning that response to the message of the
gospel breaks down racial barriers.
D. People from the far corners of the earth will sit down at the banquet of
salvation” (Victor H. Prange, Peoples Bible Commentary: Luke, rev. ed. [St.
Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1992, 2004], 191).
II. Your life story would have a very different plot except for Christ’s
A. How does your biography read?
1. Is it indistinct, with very few details that no one would bother writing
in a book?
A. Perhaps there nothing in your biography that you are proud of?
2. Maybe you are fearful that there are chapters in your life that might
bring the wrath or scorn of God in the final judgment?
A. Or the scorn of other Christians in this congregation?
3. But how will you see your life when you consider that God is your
A. He gave you life,
B. and his Word and work create and sustain saving faith in you.
4. Your biography as a Christian is encompassed in the life, death, and
resurrection of Jesus.
A. Paul declares in Romans 6:3–5:
1. Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order
that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
we too might walk in newness of life.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall
certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
B. The life of the Christian, from font to grave, comes after the prologue
of the person and work of the Savior.
5. The Spirit continues to work faith concerning Christ’s work in your
A. So now you stand forgiven of all those “bad chapters.”
B. The epilogue of the individual Christian’s life is yet to be written,
but we’ve seen the “spoiler” in the pages of the Gospels.
C. The apostle Paul summarizes it this way:
1. “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of
those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).
A. Solomon, who wrote Ecclesiastes, says:
1. “Of making many books there is no end” (12:12).
2. Some years ago, an interviewer asked the author of a recent biography of
Winston Churchill, “Why write another book on Winston Churchill?”
3. He acknowledged that there were well over a thousand biographies about
4. Here is a fun fact: It has been said that in most libraries, books by
and about Martin Luther occupy more shelves than those concerned with any
other figure except Jesus.
5. As John noted, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.
Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could
not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).
B. The Gospels, a type of biography, are reliable, historical accounts of
so many of those events in Jesus’ life and ministry.
1. Above all, they are a record of the “Good News” of his life, sacrificial
death, and resurrection for the salvation of the world.
2. They were written with a purpose.
3. Luke said that he sought to write an “orderly account” of Jesus’ life
and work “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been
taught” (Luke 1:3, 4).
C. On the other hand, we don’t know much about the Samaritan who had
leprosy in Luke 17.
1. We don’t have a detailed biography—only this short episode.
2. It is only part of a column on a single page.
3. But it is a remarkable event—and what Jesus said about the man and his
faith is incredible.
D. Jesus commends the faith of a Samaritan leper who alone gives thanks for
1. Every day God’s mercy extends to the unworthy— including you and me.
2. We give praise to Him, who bore no grudge toward you and me but came
from heaven to save us all.
E. Thanks be to You, O God, as we go our way, that our very lives are made
whole by Jesus each and every day. Amen.
F. Let us pray:
O be our great deliv’rer still,
The Lord of life and death;
Restore and quicken, soothe and bless,
With Your life-giving breath.
To hands that work and eyes that see
Give wisdom’s healing pow’r
That whole and sick and weak and strong
May praise You evermore.
Text: Public domain
I. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus.
J. In the Name of the Father…Amen.