Luke 17:11-19, “Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices, and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them , He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them , when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So, Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this
foreigner!” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way, Your faith has made you well.”
Of all the diseases in the East, leprosy was the most dreaded. It’s incurable and contagious character, and it’s horrible effect upon its victims filled the bravest with fear. Among the Jews, it was regarded as a judgment on account of sin, and was therefore called “the stroke.” “the finger of God.” Deep rooted, ineradicable, deadly, it was looked upon as a symbol of sin.
There are those that think that perhaps the segregation of lepers was regarded more in the light of a religious ceremony than as a hygiene restriction.
These people were shunned by society believing their plight to have been inflicted by God upon those who transgressed His law or by evil thoughts and deeds. I can only imagine the hopelessness of this diagnosis and the life that lay ahead for the afflicted without family, or friends and believing that God had abandoned them as well.
On this particular day 10 lepers saw Jesus from a distance and shouted to Jesus to have mercy on them. They had heard that Jesus had healing power and they believed that He could heal their disease. It’s interesting that Jesus did not go to them and touch them as he had previously done to other lepers as in Matthew 8:3; Mark 1:40-42; Luke 5:13… but instead He told them to go see the priest. Before they could enter back into society they had to be ceremonially
cleansed. They all had some degree of faith to do as Jesus had told them, but only one turned back and gave glory to God and thanked Jesus for cleansing him. Jesus points out to the crowd around Him, Pharisees included , that this man, although a Samaritan , was not only cleansed on the outside but also cleansed on the inside. The other nine were healed as well but not spiritually healed even though they were Jews. This was an object lesson for the Pharisees, who were hovering nearby. The very next chapter begins with the question from the Pharisees about the kingdom of God.
Leprosy is a picture of sin. It starts small with a white patch of skin and then it grows until the entire body is affected and parts of the body fall off . The leper often would lose feeling in a limb and burn himself without even knowing what he had done, which would cause even more damage. Leprosy in the Old Testament was often a consequence of breaking God’s law. When we don’t follow God’s principles we fall into sin. Just a little at first and then just like leprosy it spreads into all areas of our lives. We become desensitized to it and we are unable to feel the effects that it has on us. We need to be cleansed on the inside just like the leper. We may not have spots on the outside but we are just as unclean on the inside.