The right use of God’s name always ends in thanksgiving.
That I believe is the message contained in the story of the 10 healed lepers. It is not just a miracle, although it is that. Neither is it an overly simple, “aw shucks, we should give thanks” lesson, although giving thanks is a good habit. It is really a lesson on who has used the name of God rightly. There are three groups named at the start: Jerusalem, Galilee and Samaria. All three think they know how to use the name. The 10 lepers use the name in seeking mercy. But only one receives the grace. Only one receives the kingdom. This sermon contemplates the 2nd commandment from Luther’s catechism, which is a spiritual classic. And it ponders our lives, our prayer, praise and thanks, in light of the command and the text. What does it mean to use the name of God rightly? Think about it.
Jesus summarizes his work in this text as manifesting the Name to the world. I couldn’t think about names without thinking about Juliet’s question “what is in a name”? That turns into a meditation on our human folly and God’s wisdom which are made manifest in our reactions to a name.
Note: the recording is an after the fact recording. We have an imp in our system. I’m starting to believe that it isn’t just an electronic imp, because the sermons that I tend to think are “portfolio material” are the ones that I re-record.
The 2nd commandment (3 commandment if you are Reformed) is about respecting the name of God. The 1st petition of the Lord’s prayer is that the name for God would be holy. The 1 article of the Augsburg Confession is “On God”. The first thing the church post the apostles wrestled with was the creeds which are verbal ways of nailing down just who this God is – Father, Son and Spirit. The church seems flooded with bad religion. And bad religion starts with a poor conception of God. Usually a conception warped by our reason. Either reason twisting revelation to its design, or reason using a great filter to only let in what it desires.
And that Bad Religion is tragic because we always filter out the gospel. The God we worship – Father, Son and Spirit – comes to us, reveals himself, abides with us, and won’t let go. The revealed God, revealed most fully in Jesus Christ, is the one who brings peace. Its those things we lose when we go looking for a God to take His place.