Summary: Lessons we can learn from Jesus’ healing of the 10 lepers
Luke 17:1-19 Lessons Learned from Lepers
As we continue our study of the book of Luke, we come to one of the more famous stories from this gospel. You probably learned this story in Bible school, the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers. Let’s read this story:
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Let’s get a little background here. In the ancient world, leprosy was a feared disease. We have leprosy today, though it’s now called Hanson’s disease and is not as widespread as it was. It’s a terrible disease in which one loses all sensitivity in the members of the body. The person injures themself, yet does not know it. They literally destroy their own body.
What the Bible calls leprosy was not always Hanson’s disease. The term seems to have been applied to any number of diseases of the skin. Yet the outcome was the same: to prevent contagion, these people were isolated, having to live away from healthy people, having to cover their faces and cry "Unclean, unclean!" whenever others came around. They were cut off from society, isolated from family and friends.
We also need to understand the term "Samaritan." The Samaritans were a mixed race, made up of Jews who were not taken into captivity who later married people of other nations. The Samaritans took in many of the beliefs of these people, distorting the religion of their fathers to accommodate these other beliefs. They even modified the Scriptures to claim that all major events occurred in Samaria and not in Judea. They had their own temple where they worshipped. They were hated by the Jews. It’s interesting that this group of lepers had a mix of Jews and Samaritans.
Who do we learn about here? Jesus? No, not really. We do see His compassion, but the focus isn’t really on Him. We learn about the men Jesus healed. We learn our lessons from the lepers.
9 of them did exactly what Jesus told them to do.
9 of them did exactly what the Law told them to do.
9 of them didn’t do the right thing.
The Old Testament is full of teachings about how God was frustrated with the worship of His people. They came and did sacrifices, kept feast days, and did all the rituals they were asked to do, yet they did not give Him their hearts. They did not truly worship Him. They only "did all the right things." Yet in doing those "right things," they missed the main thing, God Himself.