Dean's List: Jesus Hits the Spot!
By Aaron T. Fenker
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:17-19
Well, that hits the spot,” you might say on occasion. So, what hits the spot for you? For each of us it’s different. Let’s look back on some of the recent holiday meals we’ve enjoyed. Perhaps we fought over which part of the meal we liked the best--the cheesy potatoes, perhaps? Maybe what hits the spot for you also hits the spot for someone else. Then things can get a bit tricky around the dinner table. It’s all a bit subjective, though. What you like, they might not. What they like, you might not--or at least not as much (that’s the hope) so that you can make sure you get enough of “what hits the spot” for you.
We need something more than personal preferences. We need more direction in life than just what we feel hits the spot. The account of the 10 lepers in Luke 17 is like a map or a signpost--something objective--that shows us that it’s not a matter of “what hits the spot?” but rather “who marks the spot?” And all the movement in our text--and there’s a lot of it--actually makes it easy to figure it out. There’s only one Target, one Spot, one Person it all revolves around: Jesus.
It all hangs on Him. It must. He put Himself in a particular spot, in a place--Bethlehem, in fact. God was then not God far-off but God near, not God apart-from-us but Immanuel (God-with-us, God-one-of-us)--not God of our making, but God made flesh. God has flesh and blood, “body and soul, eyes, ears,” and all the rest--even fingers and toes! God has feet! All of God Himself was in that Baby, “wrapped [up] and lying in a manger.”
He came to the Bethlehem spot, came in flesh and blood, to go willingly into a real tight spot, and so we find Him in our text “on the way to Jerusalem.” There was only one reason to go there--only one reason to take His now grown fingers and toes, to bring His flesh and blood, to the Jerusalem spot. The reason for His coming was because we sin--we miss the spot or the bullseye on the target--daily and much. In fact, the Greek word for “sin” (hamartia) means precisely that: to miss the mark!
And at Calvary, with His pierced hands and feet on the Cross, Jesus, who hits the spot without fail each time, died for our not hitting the target. It all really did hang on Him. But before that, Jesus took a detour to “between Samaria and Galilee.” And where did He go? What scenic spot did He pick? A leper colony, and a Samaritan one at that! There, in the middle of nowhere, Jesus picks the right spot. He’s exactly where He wants to be, which was the same place they were: amongst lepers! And it had to be them--10 of them. They were lepers from their heads to their toes. Their hands and feet were not just diseased, but worse: they were considered unclean! These 10 had no one else but other lepers. No one, until Jesus.
He picked their spot as His spot. He came for that, for them. Jesus did all this--Bethlehem, Samaria, and Calvary--for the one, for the nine, for you. No part of you is left out of the Lord’s FOR YOU. Not just your soul, but your body, your “eyes, ears, and all your members.” You--inside and out, body and soul, from your head to your feet--are all covered by the Lord’s doing, working, and walking FOR YOU.
So, off to the Jesus spot. There was no place else to try, after all. All that these poor lepers had was each other. All 10 together: “Jesus, Master, have mercy!” “Off to the priests with you,” He says. Off they go, and then came the cleansing! No more spots! No more blemishes could keep them separated from their family and loved ones, nor could they keep them from the Lord either. It was true body and soul cleansing.
Immanuel Jesus, God-with-Feet Jesus, isn’t just for Jews or Samaritans, or even just for Americans. No, He’s certainly for all, came for all, died for all. But He’s much more personal than all that. He doesn’t just come for all. He came for all 10 of them, for the nine who need nothing more of Him, and for the one who needs nothing else but Him. He comes for you, too. Yes, you. Only you.
So, off to the cleansing spot. He makes your spot His spot. He comes here for you. Your spots were His spots, and now you’ve got none of them. He went His way from the Bethlehem spot to the Calvary spot to do it. God-with-feet Jesus is that way for you. Where He is, there is cleansing. He puts it right at the font, where He’ll meet you, ordinary you, with His cleansing. Your leprosy, your sin, will be baptized away. He’ll give a Word of forgiveness, an Absolution, private, just for you. He gives you the medicine of eternal life through His Body and Blood.
So, what hits the spot? Depends. Enjoy it, though! All good gifts are from Jesus’ and your heavenly Father. But He gives such gifts to all, even the unbeliever, given from sea to shining sea in particularity to each, some more, some less.
The Lepers needed a God who gave undiminishedly. They needed a God in a spot, and that’s the God they got. He’s yours, too. He’s God with you, God with all of us, Immanuel, God made flesh, always more and more, both now and forever.
Pastor Aaron T. Fenker, as the dean of theology, oversees all the ways that Christ crucified is delivered throughout all operations and programs of Higher Things, making sure that its teaching, preaching, and worship deliver Christ and His forgiveness to those we have been blessed to serve. As a Lutheran pastor, he believes that all people, even youth and young adults, need not just pure doctrine but the pure Gospel: Christ crucified for the forgiveness of their sins. He passionately strives to make sure that Jesus’ teaching, Jesus’ preaching, Jesus’ Word, Jesus’ Sacraments, Jesus’ forgiveness are all delivered FOR YOU.
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