Summary: Our Gospel reading tells us three things about coming to Jesus 1. The importance of bringing our problems to Jesus 2. The importance of doing what Jesus tells us 3. The importance of thanking God for his goodness
The Parable of the Ten Lepers
Story: One day Bill Morris went out hunting in the woods just outside Prince George in British Columbia, Canada.
It had been a slow day and he hadn’t found any game to shoot.
Suddenly, he heard a noise behind him.
He whirled around and saw two ferocious looking bears coming towards him.
He quickly raised his rifle to his shoulder, took aim and pulled the trigger.
Nothing - the rifle misfired.
He reloaded and fired again
Click… click… click.
Again, nothing - the gun just wasn’t working.
By this time, the bears were almost on top of him.
In desperation, he threw down his rifle and ran.
But the faster he ran, the closer the bears got.
Finally Bill came to the edge of a cliff.
As there was nowhere to go, he dropped to his knees and began to pray.
“O Lord, I pray that you make these bears Christian bears.”
As Bill looked up, he was surprised to see the bears kneeling just a few feet away from him.
And as he listened, he heard one bear pray;
“For what we are about to receive, may the Good Lord make us truly thankful. Amen”
Our Gospel reading today speaks of
1. The importance of thanking God for his goodness but it also tells us of
2. The importance of bringing our problems to Jesus and
3. The importance of doing what Jesus tells us
1. The importance of bringing our problems to Jesus
There were ten lepers, one of whom was a Samaritan, who Jesus healed. And so by inference the others were probably all Jews.
The ten approached Jesus and presented him with their petition
They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" (Lk 17:12/13)
And if Jesus followed what he did in other Gospel passages – I am sure his follow up question would have been:
“What do you want me to do for you?”
To which they would have replied “to be healed of our leprosy”
Interestingly, Jesus didn’t touch them as he did in other healings he did
He simply said: "Go, show yourselves to the priests." (Lk 17:14)
It reminds me of the story of Naaman, the Syrian general who was healed on leprosy in the Old Testament
Again, he was simply told by Elisha to do something simply but humbling – dip himself seven times in the Jordan river
I have often wonder if there was any sign of Naaman’s healing when he came up out of the Jordan on the sixth time
Probably not – but after the seventh time he was totally healed
In the same way I wonder when the ten were healed.
1. Was it when they went to the Priests or
2. Was it when they decided to go to the Priests?
Their healing however came when they OBEYED Jesus.
They believed him despite the seeming evidence against.
Jesus was often very unorthodox – and showed no favoritism
He didn’t say: I’m going to only heal the nine Jews.
He is open to everyone to approach
This healing shows how those we consider “beyond the pale” are still on God’s radar.
The Samaritan leper was doubly unclean
1. Firstly because he was a leper and
2. Secondly because he was a Samaritan
1. The first strike against the Samaritan leper was that he was a leper
In biblical times, leprosy was a terrible problem.
The word was often used to describe a variety of skin diseases and it was probably a contagious disease that we now call Hansen’s Disease.
It starts with a white patch of skin that becomes numb, so much so that the victims cannot even feel a needle piercing the spot.
The patch begins to spread all over the body and often manifests itself on the face, so the disease is impossible to hide.
It then begins to form spongy tumours on the face and, at the same time, attacks the internal organs as well.
The nerve endings become numb so the victim cannot tell when something is hurting him, like fire burning his hand.
Generally the condition was not in itself fatal. However it weakened the body so much that most lepers died from other diseases they contracted because of their weakened condition.
Lepers referred to “the walking dead,” and were kicked out of their homes and villages
They were forced to live in colonies with other lepers.
They couldn’t work nor were they allowed worship at the temple. (My thanks to a sermoncentral.com contributor, whose name escapes me for this information)
2. The second strike against the Samaritan leper was that he was a Samaritan
In Jesus’ day, the Samaritans were the enemies of the Jews.