Jesus Keeps You from Being ‘Just Another Statistic.
With the Hubble Telescope’s debut; Desert Storm; Waco,TX; Princess Diana; Bill Clinton; beanie babies; and the rise of portable video games; America in the 1990’s was a very interesting time to say the least. And yet the same could be said of any decade during the 20th century because of the turbulent culture changes brought on by the dawn of the digital age. During the 20th century and more specifically the 1990’s, it was as if America went through a new era of invention and discovery. Some discoveries were better than others. The improvement in the areas of phone communication, computer systems, television, and portable music may have been nice; but with the 90’s also came inventions in the area of evil. Drugs either never seen before—designer drugs—and drugs which were once rarely accessible became much more so over night it seemed. With Boomers and Older Generation X worried about young Gen X and the new Millennial generation, the older generations responded to this new advance in the drug world with the anti-drug campaign, “just say no,” which launched in the late 80’s and early 90’s. In this campaign, TV channels were paid to play strange and grotesque commercials which portrayed a youth’s brain and or body on drugs. It was an attempt at a scare tactic meant to frighten the youth into realizing what they could become: a brain fried, strung out vegetable who identifies with the lunatics of society. This campaign, although aggressive, had little success.
But then, as society shifted from the 80’s and 90’s to the 00’s and 2010’s, so did the focus of society. The new youth attitude of “I do what I want” grew and grew, and so the anti-drug sentiment shifted it’s approach, and a new saying was developed. Appealing to the ego of young America, many of which believing that they each had a manifest destiny of their own, those who didn’t want the youth to use drugs said this, “Do you really want to be just another statistic?” If you don’t know what that means already, the import of that statement can be rather demeaning. It’s meant to be. It’s meant to manipulate the ego of the drug user: “do you really just want to be another drug related death tally for the statistical year 2023? You’re more than that!”
Of course, this saying has also been applied to more than drug and alcohol use. It’s been used as an attempt for the dissuasion of many life choices which vary in intensity from dropping out of college to pursuing divorce to attempting suicide. And does it work?...Perhaps on some, but I don’t imagine it produces a lasting change. At the very least it’s a slap to the face for the listener, for it compares them to data, to numbers on a sheet, to line graphs and bell curves. It treats life as if it were a game of stats and nothing more.
Now perhaps there is something to the expression “do want to be just another statistic,” but I would only hope though that the speaker of such a quote holds the proper, Christian view so that they can properly show how their neighbor’s life is more than just a statistic. For a life without faith in Christ, yes, that’s just another statistic. It’s another cold number on a sheet with no life whatsoever. It’s another cold number that will soon become much much hotter when this world is all said and done. And so, to keep the life of all mankind from just becoming mere statistics of death and damnation, Christ came to give us life eternal. He came to heal us of our sins and transcend the meaning of our lives above gloomy statistics to lives set aside to thank and praise our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier: that is the God who gave you your life, saved it from being a mere statistic, and with that love gave it meaning and purpose to serve God in thankful praise. Therefore, Jesus keeps you from becoming just another statistic, and seeing this we pray…
In order to examine the magnitude of how Jesus gives our life meaning and makes us more than mere statistics, we turn to the words of our text presented in the Gospel of Luke. At this point in Scripture, Jesus had performed many miracles and preached the Truth of God to thousands. His name has gone out to many. He has made it plainly clear that He is the Messiah, and now He turns in His journey to Jerusalem to redeem the souls of all. During His journey, He ran into the sample size of mankind, with believers and unbelievers scattered throughout. And along His journey to Jerusalem, while traveling along the border of Samaria and Galilee, He comes across an experimental group, if you will, found among the sample size of humanity. He finds a group of ten lepers, an easy number to use in calculating a percentage. As Jesus travels, He hears these men shouting as best as they can from a distance with their hoarse voices impeded by the horrid affects of leprosy, “Jesus, Master, have mercy upon us.” Jesus also saw them and gazed upon the disease’s ill effects on their bodies. And of course, Jesus the compassionate Messiah, does have mercy upon them. He saw the desperation of these men, these outcasts of society suffering from a slow and painful death. He hears them shouting for His help as they act upon the news of Jesus’ power that was spread throughout the village. They took the desperate shot of shouting, for He was their only hope. Jesus then in His compassion says, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” The men weren’t healed at that very moment, but they knew that they would be. So, they all went to find the priests so that they may be declared clean and let back into society.
So, Jesus healed the ten. Here is the experimental group, and here is the sad statistic: only 10%, one person, came back to thank Him. As the ten men went on to show themselves to the priests, all ten were cleansed by the power of Christ. They all noticed this on their journey…and only one returns to thank Jesus. Jesus makes a spectacle of this fact because giving God thanks is a big deal. He says, “were there not 10 cleansed? Where are the 9?” “"Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" One might argue, “Well, perhaps they gave thanks to God on the way.” …that’s not what Jesus says. Another may says, “Well, He told them to go.” …it takes weeks to be declared clean by a priest, so clearly that can wait. Jesus is on a journey to save them. He won’t be there when they are done in two weeks. He would be in Jerusalem by then. No, thanking God was to come first. All ten men were expected to thank and glorify God like the foreigner, the Samaritan, did. Only one though came back with a loud, healed voice of praise that knelt at Jesus’ feet. Only one gave thanks.
90% didn’t come back and 10% did. Now what makes this statistic so sad? God wants thanks to be given to Him for His grace and mercy in every facet of life. He just changed these 10 men’s lives, and this is the thanks He gets? Taking God for granted is not good, and God shows that here. But what’s the big deal? It’s not like the nine others were just another statistic…who knows what happened to those nine and their spiritual lives, but the lack of thanks was not a good sign. Thanks given to God is a fruit of faith, a sign that faith is living and active; and the fact that the men didn’t show it is at the very least concerning. I wonder where their faith was at in the end, and whether their faith was only a foxhole faith that needed a favor, or a weak faith that was eventually strengthened and corrected, only God knows that; but here He makes a spectacle: to the one who returned He said, “Go thy way. Your faith has saved you.”
Now how many times have you and I, and all of mankind, taken for granted all the blessings of God’s mercy? He’s given us a house and home. He’s kept us in relatively good health. He has provided for all your needs. And all we can think about is showing ourselves to the priest, that is doing what we think is important rather than thanking God first. God is by no means saying that your thanksgiving will save you, but when no thanks is returned to God one must be very careful. For what is a Christian that doesn’t thank Christ? Sounds like another cold, dark statistic; and another part of the 90%.
So if God is after a thankful heart, and we’ve failed to do that, how can that be fixed? How can we be in the 10%? Better yet, how can we be more than just a statistic? Notice what Jesus says to the thankful Samaritan, “Go your way. Your faith has healed you.” Yes, the Samaritan trusted Jesus to heal him of leprosy, thus sparing him from being a death statistic of the disease that claimed so many lives in Jesus’ day. The Samaritan’s faith also spared him from being another death statistic that has claimed so many lives throughout the history of the world. His faith has saved him, healed him, spared him from the eternal demise which cold, unbelieving statistics are bound to end up in. And what is his faith? It is a gift from God almighty. It is a gift of grace from the Savior which clings to the Savior for life in all places. This faith in Christ spares all from becoming statistics, for what it clings to spares them. It clings to Jesus, who not only took away the disease of this man’s leprosy, but also took away the disease of sin on the cross of calvary. He took away the disease that has made hell bound statistics out of so many souls. He has saved this man from becoming another statistic, making him so much more than that: a redeemed child of God, purified in the blood of Christ.
So then, how has Jesus kept you from becoming another hell bound statistic, another victim of sin’s disease? The very same way! He has given you faith, the faith that makes you well. He has given you that faith in order that it may cling to Him and His cross for your deliverance. He has done this to make sure that you don’t end up as another statistic. He has saved you, taken away your sinful record, and has made you much more than any statistic. He has made a thankful heart in you, one that praises God for what He has done. You are more than a statistic now. You are a child of God, a follower of Christ Jesus our Lord. You have been saved by Him by grace alone through faith alone. You are not just another statistic! Jesus has kept you from being that. He has forgiven all the sins that you have committed. He has taken away all the things that you’ve done that would have made you just another statistic. He has even forgiven you for all the times you’ve acted like the nine in not giving thanks to Him. He has taken you out of the 90% and He puts you into the 10%, shouting God’s glory with the loud, newly healed voice of the Samaritan.
Jesus has then made out of your cold, statistic-bound heart a heart of thanksgiving and worth. He has cleansed you of the leprosy of ungratefulness. He has done this by grace alone through faith alone. He also, by the Holy Spirit who uses Scripture alone, fuels that thankful faith. And Scripture is not vague on how, but here’s what it says in our Epistle reading. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” The thankless heart is crucified with its dark and thankless passions, and Jesus has done that. See that Good News, hear it daily, learn anew every day that your sin is forgiven, and see then how from that Good News the Spirit will guide you in the fruits of a thankful heart, one that is no longer a mere statistic.
To Conclude then consider the healing of the Samaritan once more! Jesus not only has the power to heal physical diseases, but He has the power and gracious demeanor to keep you from being a statistic. He did so by not letting you fall as one of the many who dies in sin, and He will keep you in that loving thankful non-statistical way of life with His Word. He will keep you from being a statistic by reminding everyday of His loving sacrifice done for you, and He will do so in His word. For this is how the Proverbs put it, saying to you who are no longer a statistic but rather a child of God, “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. 23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” The Word of Christ, Our Savior, will keep your heart as a well-spring of thankfulness, keeping you as the 10%, the thankful Samaritan, a child healed of sins demise, and thus no longer a statistic. Christ has spared you a statistical death, and has given you a thankful heart, no longer bound the by the leprosy of sin. This is the life He’s given you, the life which He gave His own for. Thanks be to Christ.