Summary: Those lives that day sought & received external physical change for that was all they were after. Being satisfied they went on their way. Those that did missed out on the greatest blessing Jesus offers to the one who returns to Him.
LUKE 17: 11-19
WHERE ARE THE NINE?
Some people are too quickly satisfied with Jesus’ blessings, others are never satisfied with Jesus’ blessings. These extreme types remind me of two stories.
A food editor of the local newspaper received a telephone call from a woman inquiring HOW LONG to cook a 22-pound turkey. “Just a minute,” said the food editor, turning to consult a chart.“Thank you very much,” replied the novice cook, and hung up!
In a region of Mexico HOT AND COLD SPRINGS are found side by side. Because of the convenience of this natural phenomenon the women often bring their laundry, boil their clothes in the hot spring and then rinse them in the cold spring. A tourist watching this procedure commented to his Mexican guide, “They must think mother nature is generous to freely supply such ample clean hot and cold water.” The guide replied, “No, señor, there is much grumbling because she does not supply the soap.” [Hodgin, Michael. 1001 Humorous Illus. Zondervan. p 348.]
A hopeless and depressed group of lepers had huddled together outside one of the many villages on the border of Samaria and Galilee. They were marked men and possibly women, for their inflamed, scaly, splotchy skin condemned them as people to be avoided. Their common misery forced different races of outcast together, in spite of inter-racial hatred, as, in a flood, wolves and sheep will huddle close on a spot of high ground.
It was a despised fellowship drawn together in mutual wretchedness and in permanent separation from others. [They were outcast like many in third world countries who have AIDS are today.] Into this deplorable seemly hopeless scene walks Jesus and lives are given the opportunity to change. Those lives that day sought and received external physical change for that was all they were after. Being satisfied they went on their way. Those that did missed out on the greatest blessing Jesus offers to the one who returns to Him.
May I ask you a personal question? Have you too been satisfied with the external blessings that you have received from Jesus and gone on about your life? Or, in your gratitude, have you returned to Him and received an internal change that is eternal and for which you are continually grateful?
I. THE LEPERS’ CRY, 12-14a.
II. THE HEALING OF THE OBEDIENT, 14b.
III. THE RETURN OF THE THANKFUL, 15-16.
IV. THE LORD'S REACTION, 17-19.
While Jesus was headed toward His crucifixion He passed through Samaria. The Jews had no dealings nor friendship with these mix breeds and considered that even meeting them made one [ceremonially] unclean. But it seems that the diseased and afflicted of all races joined together in leper colonies. Verses 11-13 begin the story of the encounter Jesus had with ten lepers. “And it came about while He was on the way to Jerusalem; that He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered a certain village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
Levitical law prescribed the distance that lepers were to be separated from non-infected people (Lev. 13:38-46; Num. 5:2-4). Thus in order to be heard they had to cry aloud. It must have been an effort for one of the effects of leprosy is a hoarse whisper. Desperate need though often gives the body heightened physical power.
Their cry for mercy indicates that they had some knowledge of Jesus. They had heard stories of the Compassionate Healer that ministered health to those with incurable physical debilities. They had heard He was coming or perhaps they recognized Him, but in any case they addressed Him from afar.
They called Him by name, “Jesus, Master have mercy on us.” The word Master in the Greek means “Chief Commander”[ έπιστάτα -epistáta]. They recognized that Jesus was commander and chief even over disease. The question was would Jesus have mercy. Would one such as He help those such as them? Those who have been beaten down by people and difficult circumstances in life don't often find persons capable and compassionate enough to help.
So they cry out for mercy because in Him they experienced a germination of hope and faith touching them in their desperate need. But even their dire situation had not caused them to look at their deeper even more serious need, so they called out for Him to meet their physical need. They want Jesus to be nothing more than a fixer of life, a healer of body and circumstances. As earthy and fleshy as their desires were, they did open themselves up to Jesus so that His mercy could touch them. Jesus’ mercy is ever ready to flow into every situation and life, just as water naturally flows to the lowest levels.