Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’
When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’
Luke 17:11-19 (NIV)
I have always been surprised by this incident recorded in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem and encountered ten lepers. While the lepers stood at a distance, they had the courage and presence of mind to ask Jesus to help them.
Uncharacteristically Jesus didn’t tell them they were healed, but instead to go and show themselves to the priest (a requirement of the Law for those cleansed from leprosy). However, we are told that it was only as they went that they were cleansed. What a test of faith! The lepers didn’t see any change in their condition until they did as Jesus said. Was their healing dependent upon them doing what Jesus asked them to do? I think it was. If they had decided not to go, they probably wouldn’t have been healed. Why do I think this? There is an episode recorded in 2 Kings 5 where Elisha told Naaman (a very powerful commander to the king of Aram) to go and wash in the Jordan and he would be healed of leprosy. Naaman thought this a ridiculous idea and he didn’t receive his healing until he did what Elisha had said. Being obedient was part of the healing process. So too with the lepers in the incident with Jesus.
All ten lepers were healed, but only one came back to thank Jesus for his healing. Perhaps the others were caught up in the excitement of having been healed, and having to go to the priest to verify that they were indeed healed. This rite of purification would immediately lead to being able to return to family and lead a normal life. Yet only one came back!
Jesus aks the obvious question – ‘Where are the other nine?’ The nine who didn’t come back were healed too, but they missed out on the opportunity to praise God and thank Jesus for what he had done.
If you are blessed by God, remember to go back to him and praise him for his graciousness to you!
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