Reading the Word
Luke 17:11–19 (ESV)
11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
Understanding and Applying the Word
This passage tells us of ten lepers whom Jesus healed. The passage does not focus so much on the healing as it does the reaction to the healing. As Jesus was traveling, ten lepers stood at a distance and called out to him for mercy. This would have been quite normal since lepers were not supposed to get close to others. Jesus sent them to the priests, which was part of the Law. The priests had the responsibility of examining the lepers and pronouncing them clean. All ten went to the priests and were cleansed of their disease as they went.
Only one of the healed men returned. He returned to praise God and to thank Jesus for what he had done. The surprising thing is that this one was not a Jew, but a Samaritan. The other nine had simply gone away. This fits what we have seen in other places in Luke. Outsiders often responded to Jesus in great faith, while many Jews, especially the religious leaders, rejected him.
There are multiple things to learn from this account. The leper returned praising God and thanking Jesus. He recognized that God was at work through Jesus. Also, there should be gratitude and thanksgiving for God’s grace in our lives. And lastly, the gospel is for all people. Over and over again, it is the outsider that responds in worship and faith while those we would expect to follow Jesus actually turn away. It is often those we least expect who respond to the gospel.
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