Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy

Luke 17: 11-19

DIG: What was it like to be a leper? What would their healing mean to them? Why do you think the nine didn’t go back to thank Yeshua? What is significant about the one who came back being a Samaritan?

REFLECT: How has Messiah healed you spiritually? Physically? Emotionally? Afterwards, how do you show your gratitude to the Lord? Do you throw yourself at Jesus’ feet and thank Him like the Samaritan? Or take His healing for granted?

In Messiah’s time, those suffering from leprosy were isolated in special camps outside the cities in an effort to contain the disease. According to the Torah, the only way a leper could be allowed to return to society was if he or she were declared clean by a priest (Leviticus 14:1-32).

During His ministry in Perea as He waited for His final appearance in Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee (Luke 17:11). Thus He stayed away from Galilee, where Herod sought to kill Him, and from Judea, where the Sanhedrin was plotting to kill Him. Christ made several trips to Jerusalem, but Luke telescoped them to make his point that the Lord had to get to Zion to present Himself as the Messiah.1151

On one occasion, as He was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met Him. In the Jewish culture of that time, leprosy was not merely the symbol of sin, but of death, to which it stood related to our state of sin and death before God. The rabbis taught that lepers were regarded as dead, along with the blind, the poor, and those who had no children. They were excluded from the camp of Isra’el, which in later times the Talmudists understood to be all the cities walled since the days of Joshua, who was supposed to have sanctified them. Everywhere a leper entered was considered defiled. They were, however, admitted to the synagogue, where a place was railed off for them, ten handbreadths high (a handbreadth being the measure of four fingers, equal to four inches) and four cubits wide, on condition of their entering the house of worship before the rest of the congregation, and leaving them before the service was over (Tractate Negaim 13.12).1152 So it was natural that they would band together.

At first Christ did not see them, for they stood at a distance. But then He heard their cry as they called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us” (Luke 17:12-13)! They knew His name because they had heard of the remarkable cure of one of the worst lepers in Galilee (see Cn – The First Messianic Miracle: The Healing of a Jewish Leper), not far from their village. Nine of them were Jews, but fellow-sympathy in misery had broken down the barriers of racial prejudice. Miserably afflicted with this disease, which was itself a living death, they spent their days in hopelessness, waiting for the end to come. The Torah requires people with serious skin diseases to separate themselves from the rest of the camp of Isra’el (Leviticus 13:45-46; Numbers 5:2-4). One Samaritan stood up with the others and joined with them in a heart-rending plea for pity.

When Yeshua saw them, He said: Go show yourselves to the priests. They went in faith even before they had actually experienced the healing. As they limped along the road, the dry scales fell from them, the white spots disappeared, a healthy color returned to their flesh, their disfigured limbs were restored, and the thrill of new life flowed through their veins. They were cleansed (Luke 17:14). Joseph Caiaphas, the high priest of the Sanhedrin, the Temple and the priesthood, led the rejection of the Messiah. Now he would have to see the results of this messianic miracle first hand.

All ten had enough faith in Yeshua to be healed. But only one of them had enough gratitude that when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He understood the significance of what had been done for him. Therefore, he threw himself at Jesus’ feet, worshiped Him and thanked Him – and he was a Samaritan (Luke 17:15-16). To demand an action in keeping with the Torah from him would in itself be a challenge and could have offended him. So the Samaritan who returned had to overcome considerable obstacles in order to be obedient to the Great Physician’s request. How his obedience to the Lord, and his worship and gratitude for his healing, must have pleased the Savior of sinners. His faith had not only healed him, but also saved him.

Jesus asked: Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine (Luke 17:17)? They had received God’s spoken word and believed enough to be healed of their leprosy, but they fell short of the ultimate healing of salvation. They had once been enlightened . . . [and] tasted the heavenly gift (Hebrews 6:4) in their physical healing, but they had not stepped across the line from knowledge to faith. The lack of gratitude by the other nine was typical of the rejection of Christ’s ministry by the Jewish people. He alone had the power to cleanse the nation and make her ceremonially clean. However, Isra’el did not respond properly to Him. She accepted the healings and feedings, but she did not accept Him as the Meshiach. But those outside the nation, such as this Samaritan leper (a person doubly repulsive to the Jews) and many of those in Perea were responding.1153

Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner (Luke 17:18)? Several questions come to mind. Did these nine Jews separate from the one Samaritan when they realized they were healed? Or was it Jewish pride, which felt it had a right to blessings, and attributed them, not to the mercy of the Galilean Rabbi, but to God; or rather, to the relation of Isra’el to God. Or what seems the most likely it was simply ingratitude. A state of mind all too characteristic of those far from ADONAI, and which led to the neglect and rejection of Christ. It was certainly a terrible contrast between the sons of the Covenant and this foreigner.

Then He said to him: Rise up and go, your faith has made you well (Luke 17:19). The phrase made you well is literally saved you. And in truth, faith saves us. Certainly the grateful Samaritan received a healing that far surpassed the physical cleansing of his skin. The wholeness he received in his flesh pointed to the wholeness he was receiving in his soul as he lay before the Lord in worship. Like this Samaritan, let us lay our hearts bare before Jesus Christ and allow Him to bring us deeper healing and wholeness.

Lord Jesus, we believe that your desire to work in us far exceeds our expectations We come to You today asking You to transform us. Yeshua, we bow before you in praise and thanksgiving.1154


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