Note: Currently we are working through the book of Luke at the Ebenezer congregation. I have decided to start posting thoughts from our messages here (in English) in the hopes others may find them edifying. You can read the first in this series here.
It is instructive to note that the narrative of Jesus healing the leper does not end with the healing. The story continues in verse 14:
Then He ordered him to tell no one: “But go and show yourself to the priest, and offer what Moses prescribed for your cleansing as a testimony to them.”
There are a number of reasons Jesus gave the specific instructions that He did, having to do with his purpose in healing, his focus on proclaiming the kingdom, and the fulfillment of Old Testament Law. But for the purpose of this meditation I want to focus in on one concept:
The recently healed leper was given commands.
Remember that this man, by the simple, identifying touch of Jesus, had had his death sentence cancelled, his communion with God restored, and his place in the community secured. And now, Jesus had some things for him to do.
And for those of us who have been given eternal life, peace with God, and community in the Church, Jesus has some things for us to do.
Now, it is essential for us to get the order right here. Notice that nothing Jesus told the ex-leper to do contributed to his healing. He was already healed, an act of grace that took place through his faith. Rather, the obedience was predicated on the work that had already been accomplished. “Now that you are healed, do this.”
When Jesus talks about our obedience to his commands, He puts it this way:
This is very stark, black and white, if you will. There is no wiggle room. Christians are, by definition, those who love Jesus. How can we not? And those who love Jesus obey him. A lack of obedience indicates a lack of love.
So it is imperative that we take a good look at the commands Christ gives us.
My purpose here is not to give an exhaustive list of Christ’s commands. Here is someone who has if you would like to do that in-depth study – and I highly recommend it!
And before going further, I feel it necessary to note that, while we will focus on specific commands given by Christ, the Holy Spirit also inspired the Apostles to proffer some very detailed commands as well, and these are to be given no less significant a place in our lives.
Having said that, what I would like to do here is provide a general scope of the commands of Christ. While many have categorized them in different ways, I would like to organize them under three headings: Moral Commands, Community Commands, and Kingdom Commands. Of course there will be overlap and interaction, but I find these three headings helpful.
This category deals with how we interact with each other. In many instances the emphasis is on our interpersonal relationships within the community of faith. These commands are some of the best known, most oft cited, and least practiced.
This final grouping deals with our activities in service to the Kingdom. They constitute specific activities we are to be engaged in as we actively seek to serve the King – activities like prayer, combating false prophets, financial contributions, and evangelism/discipleship.
Keep in mind that these are my categories, and what is truly important is not how we categorize Christ’s commands, but how we obey them.
Jesus has some things for us to do. Let’s do them.