November 10 - Luke 17:11-19

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Luke 17:11-19 – Ten Lepers

As a story teller, Luke reminds his readers of the context of the story. Jesus began the journey to Jerusalem back in Luke 9:51 and though he has had quite a few events happen along the way, he is still traveling with the disciples, moving toward the great city.

According to the Law, lepers had to hold themselves away from the community. Leviticus 13:46 says that “he (the leper) shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.”

They were respectful of the Law and even though misery often loves company, they wouldn't want anyone else to go through what they did or live with what they had to live with. But they also recognized Jesus. There is no record that he had ever entered this village, yet they knew who he was and called out for him to have pity on them. Their faith was immeasurable. He didn't approach them, he didn't give them any signal that he was doing anything, Jesus simply told them to go to the priests.

These ten men took Jesus at his word and as they made their way to the priests, they were cleansed. They watched their bodies transform before their eyes as they did as Jesus had instructed.

One of them didn’t make it to the priest. He was so overcome with gratitude, he came back and threw himself at Jesus’ feet, praising God.

All of a sudden, though, Luke makes a distinction between this man and the other nine. This man, according to Luke 17:16, was a Samaritan. He was not only scorned because of his disease, but his religious background separated him from everyone else. The only reasons he was with the Jewish lepers was because of their common disease.

The Jews went on to the priest, the Samaritan erupted in gratitude, recognizing that God had touched him … as reviled as he was by the predominant culture.

Luke held this detail back from the story until this point to heighten the drama. His readers would immediately be drawn to a memory of the Good Samaritan and how that group of people were open to the gospel of Jesus while official Judaism rejected the Messiah.

He was the last among the lepers and he was made the first. His adoration of God, his faith made him well.