Luke 17: 11 – 19
When It Is Right To Be A Copy Cat
11 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, 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 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
I will tell you one thing that gets my goat – ungrateful people! I have been serving men, women, and children for over 28 years now [not that I am counting]. It is an honor to serve the Lord by being one of His servants. However, I am not a piece of dirt where people can just expect me to return evil for the good I do for them. Forgive me, but that is just something I haven’t been able to overcome in my life.
Today, you guessed it. We are going to talk about such people so as we pray, please also pray for me because I want to be like Ezra and smack them.
Leprosy was held in horror by all, and skin diseased men and women were seen as to be avoided. In both Jewish and Samaritan Law they were expected to avoid human company, except for their own kind, and to call ‘unclean, unclean’ so as to warn people to keep away from them. In the book of Leviticus chapter 13 verses 43-46 we read, Then the priest shall examine it; and indeed if the swelling of the sore is reddish-white on his bald head or on his bald forehead, as the appearance of leprosy on the skin of the body, 44 he is a leprous man. He is unclean. The priest shall surely pronounce him unclean; his sore is on his head. 45 “Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.
For in both Jewish and Samaritan Law skin disease rendered them permanently ritually unclean. They could neither live among men nor approach the Dwelling place of God. And any who came in contact with them became ‘unclean’ and unable to enter the Temple until they again became clean.
There are a number of indications in the Old Testament that Israel was seen as the equivalent of people with leprosy. Isaiah could cry out in chapter 64 verse 6, ‘We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness’s are as filthy rags’
So when ten skin diseased men will approach our Lord Jesus for healing, including one stranger, we may well see behind it the intention of depicting not only Israel, but the world in its need, a need which can only be healed by the Messiah.
There may also be intended a reminder of the fact that a greater than Elisha was here. Elisha had enabled the healing of a skin diseased man in which we read about in the book of 2 Kings chapter 5, and he also a ‘stranger’. Although Elisha had not done it by his word. Rather he had sent him to wash seven times in the Jordan. He had put him firmly in the hands of God, and God had healed him. And he, like the Samaritan here, had returned to give thanks. But here our Lord Jesus takes the healing on Himself. It is He Who heals them at a distance.
We have become so used to healing miracles that probably not one reader stops in wonder at what happened here. Ten men whose lives were devastated by skin disease receive their lives back again, and all at a word from our Jehovah Rapha – The Lord our Healer. His signs and wonders continue. And yet unquestionably in this section they are only mentioned because they have another lesson to teach.
11 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
When Luke gives a detailed introduction he regularly has a purpose in it. Thus the mention of being on the way to Jerusalem brings the shadow of His death over the narrative. It is as the One Who is going to bear the sins of the world, and to bear our sicknesses and diseases.
As we have observed earlier our Master and King Lord Jesus making of His way to Jerusalem to die is not just a straightforward journey. Having been in the environs of Jerusalem twice He is now going along the border between Galilee and Samaria. This explains the presence of a Samaritan among the skin diseased men who are the subject of the passage. But Luke probably intends also by his presence to imply that the journey to Jerusalem will have effects that will go beyond Judaism. It is because He is on His way to die in Jerusalem that His journey takes Him to a position where He is midway between Samaria and Galilee, for that death will break the barriers between them.
12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off
We see that our Lord Jesus came across ten men who ‘stood afar off’. They were skin diseased and therefore unclean and were thus forbidden to join themselves with crowds. They were outcasts from Israel, ever on the periphery of things. These men would want to maintain their proximity to villages in order to receive alms from them. They had no other honest means of survival.
It is possible that Luke may well have intended a hint here that God’s mercy was available to those who are ‘afar off’.
13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
These men pleaded in loud voices for our Lord Jesus to show His compassion to them. Please note their acknowledging Him as ‘Master’. This title is usually only used by Luke as spoken by disciples of The Lord Jesus, and the idea may be in order to demonstrate their interest in His message. It is one of the words Luke uses instead of Rabbi because of his Gentile readers.
14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.
When our Holy Lord Jesus became aware of them, He commanded them to go to the priests to be examined, as though they were those who had been cured of their skin disease. It was calling on them for an act of faith. They still had their skin disease. But such was their faith that they went. And as they went they were healed. They were ‘made clean’. They thus no doubt then proceeded to go to the priests to obtain their certificate of cleansing, as our Lord Jesus had told them to do.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, 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.
But one of the men had not gone with the others. He was a Samaritan and would seek out his own priests. But as soon as he became aware that healing had taken place and that his skin disease had gone, he was so grateful that he forgot about seeking out the priest. And immediately turning back, and glorifying God with a loud voice, he came to The Lord Jesus, and falling on his face before Him, he gave Him thanks. Now that he was healed all he could think of was to express his gratitude to the Master. And remember he was a Samaritan.
This is a lesson for all of us to take heed. We acknowledge that we are followers of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, there are occasions where an unbeliever shows greater fruits of the spirit than we do. They are nicer than us. We eat and devour each other and then come to church and act all holy. May we walk the walk and not just talk the talk.
17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”
Our Creator God, Lord Jesus was impressed by this man’s attitude of thanksgiving and faith. When He asks His question about the nine He is not suggesting that they have done anything wrong. They are in fact only doing what He had told them. What He is doing is bringing out the great contrast between them and this man. They are being genuinely obedient. But what a difference there was with this man. To him thanking The Son of God, our Lord Jesus had been more important than obtaining a certificate of cleansing as soon as possible. (And only someone who has been ostracized for years can understand how important that was). All he wanted to do was glorify God and express his gratitude to the Master, and he could not wait to do it. He did it immediately.
And our Great King Lord Jesus was especially impressed by the fact that the one who wanted to glorify God and give Him thanks in this way was ‘a stranger’, that is, not of the Jewish religion. He was one of those excluded from the inner courts of the Temple by the notice that forbade access to ‘strangers’. And yet he had been the first to come to the inner courts of God. This is the second non-Jew of whom Luke has stressed our Lord Jesus’ great admiration for his attitude . No doubt Luke wanted his Gentile readers to appreciate the fact.
19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
Then He turned to the man and declared that his faith had ‘saved him’, had made him whole. Thus it is made clear that non-Jews also could find salvation through faith in our Lord Jesus. The idea is not that the other nine were not saved. It is in order to stress that this ‘stranger’ was saved.
Now folks we do not just leave here today without something that applies to us. I want you to go over this lesson and few times and may our Wonderful Holy Spirit bring various opportunities for you to be like this Samaritan.. Be a copy cat.