There were once 10 men who had leprosy. This debilitating disease is caused by a bacterial infection. Today, leprosy is still present but no longer prevalent. It is treated through the use of several different antibiotics over the course of 6-12 months. However, in the first century, leprosy was untreatable and ultimately fatal. Under the Law of Moses, lepers were commanded to abstain from contact with others and to keep themselves distant from everyone. We now know, that leprosy is contagious and can be spread through contact. God, in His infinite wisdom, caused lepers to remain distant for this reason (thousands of years before mankind knew what a germ or contagion was).
When Jesus entered this particular village, he encountered these 10 lepers standing afar off. They called to Jesus for healing. Jesus told these men to “go show yourselves unto the priests” (Luke 17:14). Only the priests, under the Law, were able to pronounce someone healed and clean enough to go among the people. The men turned to go and were healed!
Some things to consider about this miracle: 1. Jesus told them to go to the priests and present themselves. This is what had to happen to be pronounced clean, even though they were not yet healed. 2. The men trusted Jesus enough to go, though they were not yet healed. 3. After they acted upon their faith and trust in Jesus, they were healed of their leprosy. 4. Jesus acted through word at a distance. They petitioned and He answered. 5. Deliverance by God is always conditional.
What happened after? As these 10 men traveled to the priests, they were healed. One, only one, returned and thanked Jesus for this miracle. This one man who thanked Christ for his miraculous return of Health was a Samaritan. One whom the Jews thought was unclean and undesirable. This man, not the Jews who were healed, was thankful to God for his deliverance. Jesus said to him, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 17:17-19).
As we look at this account, where are we? Can we find ourselves in the sandals of Jesus? Do we have compassion on those who are in need and seek to help them? Do we do what we can to deliver folks from their current bad situations?
We have not the power to heal the sick, however, we do have the power to: 1. Teach the lost. 2. Feed the hungry. 3. Help the orphans and widows in their affliction (James 1:27). 4. Be benevolent to those who are less fortunate. Are we the Samaritan leper? Do we express gratitude and thanksgiving to God for our blessings? Are we showing those who help us the thankfulness we feel? Or, are we the nine, those men who received great blessings and never acknowledged it?
This is a great passage to study this week as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving. Let us be the one and act like the Son to affect the nine.