“ And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” Luke 17:11-19 (KJV)
The casual (to us) beginning of this Gospel text – “And it came to pass….” – is not casual at all. In fact, nothing in Scripture is casual. It was determined from ages past to “come to pass” for it was an event in the foreordained ministry of our Lord. Jesus is on His final journey of His earthly mission to Jerusalem to suffer and die for remission of our sins. His journey includes the gentile region of Samaria as well as the Jewish sector of Galilee. This should comfort us in understanding that His ministry was to all people of faith, and not limited merely to a certain race of people.
Our text today involves, again, the healing of lepers. Leprosy might be compared to sin in several particulars: 1) sin is insidious in its onslaught. It is not usually obvious at what point an innocent child comes to age of reckoning and becomes an outright sinner – but the sin will grow to the point that it is obvious to all that the former child willfully sins. The same is true of leprosy. No one notices the early onslaught of leprosy – even the victim. But with time, spots and blemishes appear that grow more all-invasive and severe until the body appendages begin to rot and deteriorate. 2) leprosy, like sin, has an increasingly reprehensible odor associated with its progress. At first, one might be able to cover the odor with ointments and perfumes, but even these cannot stench the growing unpleasant odor that the disease emits.3) Leprosy, like sin, separates us from our loved ones. A leper is disposed to live apart from all others of society and to shout, “Unclean!” to all who might approach him. Sin separates us from God. 4) Leprosy is debilitating – so is sin. Many of the dreams and aspirations of the leper are interdicted by the disease. The same is true of the growing depravity of sin. 5) Leprosy finally kills its victim – so does sin result in spiritual death of its victim. These are just a few of the parallels that can be drawn between leprosy and sin.
Jesus is the Great Physician – not only in healing the body, but also the soul. As we look at this text today, let us consider the condition of our own hearts in comparison with those of the lepers described.
Jesus is approaching a village at some point on his journey.
He is met by ten lepers outside the village – lepers were not allowed to mingle with the village people. They could not approach near to Jesus, but remained afar off. Sinners, too, cannot come near to Christ until they do so with penitent heart. Sinners are separated from God by their sin.
They believed that Jesus could help them though they could not fully understand the manner of healing. They believed strongly enough that they, in unison, lifted up their voices and cried, “Master have mercy on us.” IT is not necessary to beg for details of mercy. The mercy of Christ will always suffice for our healing.
Prayer will always get the attention of the Lord. Jesus had not yet seen the men until they called upon His name. “And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” Another point illustrated here is the fact that distance is not an impediment to healing where the Lord is concerned.
Why show themselves to the priests? It was not to complete any healing, for they were healed as they went away – it was to grant them entrance into polite society again. When we come to Christ, we are admitted to the society of other believers – we are accounted righteous though our righteousness is that IMPUTED righteousness of Christy and not our own.
“And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.” It surely MUST come to pass if Jesus issues the decree!
When we come to Christ, believing in faith, our faith must result in acting upon that faith. Obedience to Christ requires our immediate response. Immediately the lepers departed to see the priests. When we have repented of our sins and believed, we must walk in a different direction, and with a different purpose, than our previous walks.
“15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.” The grant of great expectations requires a great response. One of the ten, realizing that his leprosy was gone, could continue no further without glorifying the Great Benefactor who had healed him. He was not ashamed to lift his voice and loudly glorify God. In fact, I do not believe he could resist doing so. How silent do we remain after Jesus has healed us of our great sins? Should we not bear witness, far and wide, of our healing by revealing that Great Physician that healed us to other lepers?
It is implied that nine were Jewish, and clearly stated that this one was a Samaritan that was healed. He could not resist the power of gratitude to fall at the feet of Jesus and thank him for so great a favor. “And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.” He was the very one least expected to come near to Christ – he was a Samaritan! But he was now cleansed and, as we must do also, he came near to Christ after his healing. After our forgiveness of sins, we, too, must draw near by faith to Christ and ever after remain so.
In our sins, we are all strangers to God, but once we are cleansed, we delight in His company. “And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” Today in church, there are perhaps one in ten who are gracious and loving of Christ to kneel (in their hearts) at his feet and than Him for His many mercies to them. Where are the nine? They are no longer in fellowship with Christ. They have disappeared!
Only this stranger – this Samaritan – was made whole and healed to the fullest. The other nine had their leprosy healed, indeed; but they again drifted away and were separated from the most important One with whom they could have associated themselves. Many make public professions of faith and do the same thing. “And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” The faith (and gratitude) of the Samaritan had made him whole to the fullest extent. Not only had his leprosy been healed, but, more importantly, his soul!
Everyone present in the worship service today has that opportunity to express their full faith and gratitude to Christ – through their public testimony, through their changed lives, and through their service to Him. Have you done so?