Summary: Jesus' healing of ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19 shows us two signs of saving faith.
Roy Larson thought the most difficult part of his day would be maneuvering the unfamiliar stick shift on a “loaner” electric wheelchair as he ventured into downtown Glen Ellyn, Illinois, for a haircut.
But his day was about to become much more difficult.
As he was crossing the railroad tracks on Main Street, one of the chair’s wheels became lodged in the track. As Larson struggled to free the wheel, something went wrong with the chair’s electrical system, and the chair refused to move.
Suddenly the lights began to flash, and the signal bells started to ring. The gates in front of Larson and behind him began to lower.
The first person Larson saw as he frantically looked for help was Mark Bade. Bade had been running an errand when he saw that Larson was in trouble. He sprinted to Larson’s side and began to struggle with the chair.
At almost the same moment, Don Burgeson had stopped his car at the gates and saw what was happening. He jumped out of his car and helped Bade wrench the chair free from the track and drag it out of harm’s way.
The three men looked up, just in time to see the train was less than 20 yards away.
“After the train went by, I just said thanks,” Larson said. “The only reason I am here today is because these two guys saved my life.”
Jesus Christ came to save our lives. We also need to say thanks.
In the miracle of Jesus healing ten lepers we notice that one of them did return to say thanks to Jesus. But what we learn is that he experienced far more than just healing of his body. He in fact experienced the salvation of his soul as well!
Let’s read about Jesus cleansing ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19:
11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19)
In today’s text Luke noted that Jesus was “on the way to Jerusalem” (Luke 17:11a). In fact, Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem” back in Luke 9:51. While on his way to Jerusalem, Luke recorded Jesus performing five miracles (11:14; 13:12; 14:4; 17:14; 18:35). This is the fourth of five miracles. What is significant about each miracle is the teaching that follows.
In the fourth miracle, Jesus healed ten lepers. One of them returned to Jesus to give praise to God and thanks to Jesus.
The healing of ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19 shows us two signs of saving faith.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. The Request of the Ten (17:11-14)
2. The Return of the One (17:15-19)
I. The Request of the Ten (17:11-14)
First, let’s look at the request of the ten.
A. The Circumstances (17:11-12)
Let’s begin by observing the circumstances.
Luke said in verse 11 that while Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. Galilee was in the north, and Judea, with Jerusalem as its capitol, was in the south. Sandwiched between Galilee and Judea was the region of Samaria. The people of Samaria - Samaritans – were a mixed race of Jews and Assyrians. The Jews had no dealings with Samaritans (cf. John 4:9), and they would go out of their way so as not to travel through Samaria.
This was not true of Jesus. We remember his well-known encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria. Also, one of Jesus’ best-known parables was about a Good Samaritan. Jesus loved all people, including Samaritans.
Luke said that as Jesus entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance (17:12). The Mosaic Law forbade lepers to get close to anyone (Leviticus 13:45-46; Numbers 5:2-3). That is why they stood at a distance.
Leprosy was a dreaded disease in ancient times. John MacArthur has the following description of leprosy:
Like its Old Testament counterpart lepras (leprosy) is a general term for a number of skin conditions. The most severe of those was Hansen’s disease, which is leprosy as it is known today. . . .