Luke 17:11 – 19
11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus* was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he entered a village, ten lepers* approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ 14When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus’* feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ 19Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’
Jesus is continuing on his way to Jerusalem, going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. He is approached by ten lepers, who politely kept their distance (the law said they must stay away from people). They shout out to Jesus, calling him “Master” and begging for mercy – he does not touch these lepers, but simply tels them to go and show themselves to the priests. When they began to obey, by going as he had told them, they were made clean. Jesus did not wait until they were perfect to heal them; they were healed as they began to follow in the path he directed. Can you imagine the scene on that road? The cynic among them saying, “Yea, right, and the priest will say what he always says, we are unclean, stay away.” But then another looking at one of his companions, saying, “John, the sores on your face – they’re gone!” and then they all tear off the bandages and find clean, healthy skin. I imagine they danced and sang and leaped for joy right there on the road, littering the roadside with the bandages that had marked their deformities.
But only one of them came back – turned around, and came back to praise God, to prostate himself at Jesus’ feet and thank him. And Jesus says, where are the other nine? Were not ten healed? And he points out that the one who had returned was a foreigner, a Samaritan. But then he says a strange thing – because the man has already been healed of the leprosy; yet, Jesus says, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” Where was this leper’s faith shown? When he returns to prostate himself before Jesus, he is acknowledging that Jesus represents God – in a way that the places he had started to go, the temple in Jerusalem, or the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerazim, do not. He is doing what Jesus had told him to do, presenting himself before God. And if he was already healed, how is he now made well? He is made whole, rather than just his skin healed. Now his soul is healed as well; his soul is made whole. Body, mind, spirit, and soul are brought together in this man’s healing, for he sought to make Christ the center and source of his life.
The other nine – they were healed physically, and they went to the priests and showed themselves, and likely lived out their lives as they had expected to before they had leprosy. And likely, they never knew what it was they missed out on. When we fail to fall at Christ’s feet and offer our all, we may live “good” lives, but when we give our lives to Christ, we live “whole” lives, in him. And oh, the sights we see!