Matt Hagee - The Miracles In No Man's Land
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If you brought your Bibles, turn them to Luke 17, as this morning we begin the third volume of series on "The God of Miracles" taken from the gospel of Luke. We've preached three miracles from John and three miracles from Mark. And today, we turn to the beloved physician, as Paul described him. And we read the account that he gives of the things that Jesus did.
Now the thing that's interesting about Luke's gospel is that Luke did not come to faith while Christ was on the earth. He came to the knowledge of Christ after the crucifixion, after the resurrection, after the day of Pentecost, after acts 10 when Peter went to the house of Cornelius. But Bible historians will tell you that Luke was one of the earliest accounts that was written of the life of Jesus Christ, and he was commissioned to do so because an individual, who wanted to know about this Savior, sent Luke to write it down.
So when you read the words in the gospel of Luke concerning Mary and the conversation that she had with Gabriel, guess where Luke got that? From Mary. Whenever you read about the things that she said when she was talking with Elizabeth and they began to discuss how God was moving in their lives, and she cries out, "My soul does magnify the Lord and my spirit does rejoice in Christ my Savior," that's not poetry that Luke interpreted based on what he had heard. He had a conversation with the woman, and she told him what he said.
You say, "Now preacher, what's this got to do with me"? So many times we have people ask us, "How do you know your scripture is true"? We know it is true, because not only is it the Word of God and, "The grass may wither and the flower may fade, but the word of the Lord endures forever". But we know it is true because from generation to generation, it has been preciously preserved by the power of God's love divine. When we, in the modern world, hear people want to argue and debate it, don't engage in the argument. Just simply declare it: that this is the Word of God, and it is great and greatly to be praised.
Today, in Luke's gospel, we turn to the 17th chapter, beginning at the 11th verse. If you're there, say, amen. The Bible says: and now it happened as he went to Jerusalem that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then he entered a certain village, and there met him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, master, have mercy on us". And when he saw them, he said to them, "Go, show yourself to the priests". And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of the them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Were not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner"? And he said to him, "Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well".
Heavenly Father, today we ask that you would move in this sanctuary in the hearts and lives of every individual that's not only in this room but those who are watching wherever they may be viewing from. Today we ask that your mercy would be poured out upon our lives, and meet every need, touch every heart, change every life. And for these things, we promise to you today that we will give you all of the glory that you are worthy of, in Jesus' name. Amen and amen.
You may be seated. If there's a key verse in the gospel of Luke concerning the ministry of Jesus Christ, Luke writes it out of Luke 19. Jesus himself said that the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. That's good news today, because in this life, there are certain times where you feel like you can lose your way. Is there anybody here that the expected outcome that you had for your plans isn't quite what you got? You thought you had it all figured out right up until the point where it fell apart. And sitting here in this sanctuary, there are times in life that you could look back and say, "I'm frustrated and I'm confused, because what I got, I didn't deserve. And what I deserved, I didn't get".
I've got good news for you. Jesus said it himself. He's looking for you. "He came to seek and to save that which was lost". All those who feel forgotten, he's here today. And he came just so he could find you. And we see what great links he'll go through to get to you when you read Luke 17:11, and you see the miracle that takes place in no man's land. You see, the Bible says that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. And if you understand the significance of what happens when Jesus gets to Jerusalem, every time you hear that phrase, your spirit should just jump up inside you.
Jesus is not just anybody. Jesus is the Lamb of God slain from the foundations of the earth. Jesus is not just another rabbi. Jesus is the one who takes away the sins of the world. And Jerusalem is not just another city. Jerusalem is the city of God. Jerusalem is where God said, when you pray there, I'll hear you. When you stand there, I'll see you. When you sit there, I'll put my hands around that city and I'll protect it. He said, "My face shall always be turned towards Jerusalem". When the Lamb of God gets into the city of God, great things happen. Luke breaks down his gospel. The first four chapters have Jesus in his birth and in his childhood beginning his ministry.
Chapters 4 through 9 have Jesus at the Sea of Galilee doing all of the works that he did in Capernaum and the areas around the lake. Chapters 9 through 19, it has Jesus on his way to Jerusalem. And while he's going to Jerusalem, he goes through no man's land, Samaria and Galilee, two regions that didn't like each other and didn't want to have anything to do with each other. Galilee is Jewish territory. Galilee is filled with synagogues and rabbis and individuals who can trace their lineage all the way back to the 12 tribes of Israel that came out of Egypt. Samaria is gentile territory. Samaria is where the pagans lived. Samaria is a place that was occupied by the Samaritans whenever the children of Israel disobeyed God and they were taken captive into Babylon. And when they existed the land in exile, Samaritans came in and filled in the void.
Jews and Samaritans disliked each other so much that when Jesus went to the well, the woman at the well, in John 4, said, "What do Jews have to do with Samaritans"? She was saying, it is culturally inappropriate for us to mix in any way. Why? Because as a child of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a Jew had a covenantal right to the land, and as a Samaritan, you were an outsider that was just taking up space. You were a reminder of Israel's disobedience. You were a reminder of the fact that Israel had strayed from God who had given them everything. So when the Bible says that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and he's going between Samaria and going between Galilee, you have to understand he's in no man's land. And whether you realize it or not, what he encounters there is a type and shadow and a picture of every one of us in this room. Because it says, "He found there ten men with leprosy".
Now before you start checking your skin for sores and boils and things, realize that in the Old Testament and in the time of the Bible, leprosy was an incurable disease. And once you got it, it was just the beginning of a very slow death. And leprosy in the Bible required that you were, one, declared up clean: that you, two, had to move out of your home and away from your community: and three, you had to go to a leper's colony, because there you could at least be isolated and kept away from spreading the disease to other people. So when it says that Jesus is between Samaria and Galilee and he comes upon ten lepers, he's in a place where nobody ever wants to be. And the only reason they are there is because they've been sent there, based on the law.
Well just as leprosy was an incurable disease in the time of the Bible, leprosy of our soul is found in the word "Sin". Because the Bible says, "The wages of sin is", what? "Death". Just as leprosy was a life and death situation, you need to know that sin in your life is nothing subtle: sin is matter of life and death. And sin separates you from a holy God. In the beginning of time, when God created eden, and he placed Adam and Eve there, it was a pure place. It was an undefiled place. It was a place where God and man could walk in the cool of the day in sweet communion. But what happened? Sin entered into the Garden of Eden, and the leprosy of sin and corruption damned the soul of men. And now they were separated from God, outcasts, not able to connect with the source of their strength and of their power.
Sin turned the world that God created into no man's land. It's a place where you struggle to survive. It's a place that's filled with troubles and trials. It's a place that you don't want to be, but you have to stay, because there's no way out for you in your own strength. So how do you survive in no man's land? Today we read of God's rescue plan. He sent his only begotten son, the sinless one, from heaven to earth through the womb of a virgin down to place where there were nothing but sinners like you and me. And as he's walking on his way to Jerusalem, he's giving us the opportunity to put our faith in him, because he said, "He who believes in me shall never die".
Child of God, Jesus went to Jerusalem the first time to be a sacrificial lamb. But he's coming back to Jerusalem the second time to be the king above kings and the Lord above Lords. The first time he went to Jerusalem, he died that you and I might live. The first time he went to Jerusalem, he gave his life that captives could go free. We're going to a place where there is no sickness, there is no parting, there is no dying, there is no sorrow, because the lamb is the light. We're going to walk streets of gold, surrounded by mansions built by the architect of the ages. And we will shout for joy for all of eternity! Holy, holy, holy is the Lamb of God for sinner's slain! Give the Lord a shout of praise!
The Bible says that as the Son of God was walking towards Jerusalem, he came to a place where ten lepers lifted up their voice. Now we're not told in this account whether those were the only lepers in town. I would believe that there were probably more, because you only find lepers in leper's colonies. It's not like there's 90% of the crowd that's clean and 10% that's dirty. These ten were willing to lift up their voice and cry out to the Son of God. These ten were standing afar off, and maybe all of their friends were saying, "Don't say anything. Just let him go by". But instead, they lifted up their voice and they said, "Jesus, master, have mercy, have mercy on us"! And the Bible says, in verse 14, some of the most beautiful words that any heart will ever hear. "He saw them".
One of the things I hear hurting people say all the time is, "I don't feel like anybody sees me," "I don't feel like anybody knows me," "I don't feel like anybody sees what I'm going through, what I'm carrying, what I'm enduring". And what I want you to know is it doesn't matter how far off you are today, and it doesn't matter how miserable you are today, and it doesn't matter how desperate you are today: he sees you. He sees you. He hears you. He knows what you need. They said, "Jesus, master, have mercy". We're broken. We're rotting. We're sitting here in our youth, waiting for death. Others may have forgotten, but Jesus sees you. Your friends and family may have abandoned you, but Jesus sees you. You may not be where you want to be. You may not be who you need to be. But you need to know he sees you.
The question is: will you lift up your voice and cry out to him? What do you do when you want a change, but you don't have the ability to change? Where do you turn when you need to be cleansed, but you know that you don't have the opportunity to wash it off yourself? Who do you call upon? These ten called upon Jesus. And they didn't just call him by name: they called him by who he truly is. They said, "Jesus, master". A lot of times, people in trouble call upon Jesus, and they want Jesus to be what they need him to be. Jesus, be my counselor and give me direction. Jesus, be my provider and meet my need. Jesus, be my defender and send your angels. Jesus, be who I need you to be. Church, let me tell you, he'll be all of that and more. But before you can call him anything, you need to call him "Master" and you need to call him "Lord," because he is king above kings and he is Lord above Lords!
These ten lepers, who needed to be cleansed, they said, "Jesus, have mercy". Now you would think that the way this miracle is going to play out is that as soon as they ask, Jesus goes, "Yes, be healed, yay verily I say unto thee". And "Yay verily unto them," he said, and they were healed. But that's not how this goes. They asked for mercy and they get a command. "Jesus, have mercy". And he says, "Go". Now here's the problem, according to Leviticus and according to the book of numbers, because they have leprosy, they cannot go to the priest until they are cleansed. Jesus is sending them before the problem is fixed. And so many times in our lives, we want Jesus to fix everything before he sends us anywhere. But they asked him for mercy and they called him, "Master".
So if he was their master and he said, "Go," can't argue with the master. Even though it ain't right, I guess we've got to go. Even though we don't look like we should look, I guess we've got to go. Even though we don't feel any better, I guess we've got to go. Even though we've still got the condition we had when we started talking to him just a few minutes ago, I guess we've got to go. You see, sometimes God gives us a command, and rather than obey his command, we want to give God direction.
Now I know you would never do that. But how many of you know people who give God directions? Lord, I'm asking for a blessing. And if it could come in this size and this shape and this way by 2 o'clock, that would be great. We want it to be the way we want it, the way we need it, the way it makes us feel comfortable before we're willing to act upon it. But what do you do when he says, "Go"? You better start walking. He said, "Go, show yourself to the priests". Too many times, we don't want to obey. We'd rather argue. But the longer you argue with Jesus Christ, the longer you stay in no man's land. For the Bible says, "And it was that as they went, they became clean".
Notice that crying out to Jesus turned his attention to them. But it was their obedience that brought about their restoration. Oftentimes, when we gather in the house of God, I see lots of people crying out to Jesus. But then they wonder: why am I not restored? Let me ask you, are you obeying? Because crying out does not get you restoration. Obedience brings restoration. So many times, we don't want to move until God gets everything right in our life. What you need to know is that you're still a work in progress. And if he gives you a direction, and you start to move that direction, the longer you're walking, the more he's working. It may not feel like it's working, but trust me: he's doing things behind the scenes that you can't see. It may not look like it's working, but I promise you this: even when you can't see it, God knows exactly what he's doing.
You may not feel like taking the next step, but don't you stop walking, because the more you're walking, the more he's working. It may not look like what you want it to look like. Other people may deny it, but ignore them! Because even if none go with me, still I will follow, and I'm just going to keep on walking. When others say you should turn around and go back, you say, "There's no turning back. I'm just going to keep on walking". If no one goes with you, you just keep on walking, because he's still working. Don't waste your time arguing, just start walking. It's like we sang this morning, "Even when I don't see it, you're working. And even when I don't feel it, you're working". Child of God, when you go to sleep at night, he's still working, because my God never slumbers and my God never sleeps! Don't worry about it! Just keep walking!
There's a progressive work that happens in this miracle. One is cleansing. Two is healing. And three is wholeness. Ten lepers cried out to God and asked for cleansing. And in their obedience, walking towards the priests, they were cleansed. Ten lepers walked far enough in their leprosy underneath his mercy: that the closer they got to Jerusalem, they went from cleansed to healed. Now I know some people want to believe that they're a completed work the day that they call on Christ Jesus. But I'm here to tell you, he's still working on me. I'm a work in progress. I'm not the way I should be, but I'm certainly not who I used to be, because his grace and his mercy just keep working on me the closer I get to that time that I'm going to see him face to face. And it will be in your life.
What you need to do is give yourself some grace and some mercy to accept the fact that he's still working on you. And if you're going to give some mercy and grace to yourself, you need to give some mercy and grace to the people you know, too. Oftentimes, we want God to be merciful to us, but not that jerk. As they were walking and he's working, their cleansing starts to take place. They start to look. And one says, "Hey Harry, that sore you had on the back of your hand, it's gone". He said, "Ain't that something"? "Hey tom, that finger you were missing, it's back". And it doesn't give us a direct account of exactly how everything happened. But what we do know is the closer they got to Jerusalem, the cleaner they got.
And then at some point, they went from clean to cleansed, to healed. And I'm sure that they were talking about all the wonderful things that they were going to do whenever they got totally cleared to go back to their cities and go back to their homes and go back to their towns. I'm sure they were talking about the restaurants that they would go eat at that they hadn't been to, and how they were going to hug their wives and be with their children, and how they were going to enjoy life again now that leprosy is gone. And the Bible says that there was only one of them: that when he saw just how clean and how cleansed and how healed he was, he said, I can't think about doing anything other than going back to the guy who got this whole thing started. And I'm going to give him praise. And I'm going to give him glory. Because when I cried out for mercy, he heard me. And in his love, even though I was afar off, he saw me.
And then he started to work on me. And he began to cleanse me. And not only did he cleanse me, but now he's healed me. And now because I'm healed, I have the opportunity to go back and live the life I should have lived. I don't have to be in no man's land anymore. I can go be who God created me to be. But before I become that person, I've got to get all the way back over here where it started, and I've got to say, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Father. Thank you, Son of God. Thank you, seed of Jesse. Thank you, lion of the tribe of Judah. Thank you for healing me. Thank you for mending me. Thank you for restoring me. Oh, how good and how merciful you've been to me"!
Now I believe that out of all of the things that we read in this miracle, one of the saddest truths is how few people truly give God the thanks and the praise he's worthy of. He healed ten. Only one came back. The question is: are you going to be amongst the nine who take that mercy for granted? Are you going to be like the one who says, "God, I didn't deserve it, but you didn't it anyway"?
What I needed, you provided. When I could not, you did. And today I've just got to give you thanks and I've got to give you praise, because when I was lost and in no man's land, you came from heaven to earth and you found me, and you snatched me out, and you've restored me, and you've set me free. And today, I'm so thankful. I'm so thankful. I'm so thankful for what you've done for me.