The current COVID-19 pandemic gives us a sensitivity to an intensely painful disease often contracted during the times of Christ. Leprosy is a lethal, excruciating disease with no cure. This horrible illness begins with blotches on the skin, which turn to lumps, eventually growing so large that the person is disfigured beyond recognition. During the latter stages, the fingers and toes literally fall off. Ultimately, the person’s life ends in a coma and death…ugly, painful stuff!
These sufferers were quarantined in leper colonies and forbidden by law to approach others no closer than 50 yards. They were considered unclean by the Jews and had to shout “unclean” if approached by someone. Psychologically, the victims felt ashamed and defiled by their society.
With the above background in mind, let’s look at Luke 17: 11-19, 11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Even though they were socially defiled and ashamed, 10 lepers recognized Jesus shouting for Him to have mercy on them. These men most assuredly had heard about Jesus and His healing capabilities. He was their one chance to get healed! Don’t you know that they were screaming at the top of their lungs?! Jesus saw and told them, “Go show yourselves to the priests” who officially verified once someone had healed of leprosy. Even though the lepers had yet to be healed, they headed toward the nearest synagogue expecting to be declared whole and healed by the priests. A really cool statement was made as they followed the directions of Jesus, “And as they went, they were cleansed.” They took steps of faith which led to wholeness. I wonder how many of us would be healed of our spiritual, mental, emotional, and even physical infirmities if we simply took steps of faith as directed by Jesus.
Then, the plot thickens in this story. Only 1 of the 10 goes back to Jesus and, of all the possibilities, is a Samaritan, an outcast to the Jews. He “comes back, praising God in a loud voice. He throws himself at Jesus’ feet and thanks him.” Jesus then asks where the other 9 are who are now healed. I can tell you where. They have excitedly hurried home choosing not to take the time to go see Jesus confessing their thanksgiving and praise. Jesus tells the Samaritan, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Jesus is not only talking about physical health but spiritual, eternal wholeness.
Only 1 of the 10 has a thankful heart. How about you, are you like the 1 who remembers Jesus or among the 9 who don’t? 1 Thessalonians 5:18 directs us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”