Sunday, May 17, 2009

Resurrection does not mean get on with your life

The nine lepers in this story are like the prodigal son was when he formulated the first version of his confession to his father. Like him - as he sits by the hog trough in the far country - they realize they are dead. But also like him, their idea of resurrection is just a matter of revival, of return to some form of ordinary life. The prodigal makes plans to get himself hired on as a servant; the nine lepers, possibly, propose to go back to the garment district and and find work as pressers.

The Samaritan leper, however, is like the prodigal son when he makes his confession the second time and leaves off the part about "make me a hired servant." For just as the prodigal suddenly sees - when his father kisses him before he confesses - that he can only be a dead son who has been raised to a new life, not a hired hand trying to fake out an old-style life of his own, so the Samaritan realizes that it is by his relationship to Jesus, and by that alone, that he now has a new life out of death as a leper. It is not, you see, that either of them is told to forget about the death out of which he has been raised, or to put it behind him, or to "get on with his life." That is what the nine lepers, and the prodigal in his first self-examination, had in mind - and it is, unfortunately, what far too many Christians think about their risen life in Jesus.

-- Robert Farrar Capon, "Kingdom, Grace, Judgement", pg 324-325
(referencing the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19)

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