JESUS HEALS TEN MEN OF LEPROSY by Mark Moon
Key Verse: 17:16
“He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him–and he was a Samaritan.”
In this passage Jesus heals ten men with leprosy. Jesus thus reveals his divine compassion and almighty power of healing. One of the ten comes back to thank Jesus. Jesus gives him a special blessing. May God help us see Jesus the Messiah and learn the one who made a return to thank Jesus.
First, Jesus carries the cross of world salvation (11).
Look at verse 11. “Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.” Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem where he was going to be crucified. Jesus knew what was waiting for him there. It was the pain and shame of the cross. Nobody else understood what was happening. But Jesus knew all too well. Jesus determined to obey God’s will and die on the cross in Jerusalem (Lk 9:51). Bearing the burden of the cross in his heart, he was on the way to Jerusalem.
Jesus was on the border between Samaria and Galilee. Galileans, who were Jews, did not get along very well with Samaritans. Jews held deeply rooted prejudices against the Samaritans because they were not pure Jews. But it was more than a racial matter. It had to do with the spiritual corruption of the Samaritans who did not worship God properly. Because of this, the Jews thought that God would not accept the Samaritans. All these divisions and discrimination didn’t matter to Jesus. He was traveling there, expressing and extending his love to the Samaritans and reconciliation between the them. “For he [Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility….” (Ephesians 2:14).
Second, Jesus has mercy upon ten men with leprosy (12-14).
What happened there? Look at verses 12-13. “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!’” Ten men with leprosy met him. What is leprosy? Who are these people? [Presentation about leprosy]
- THEIR POVERTY
- The modern squalor of slums and ghettos (even with their cardboard shacks, filthy mattresses, rotting clothes, lice, roaches, rats, drugs, alcohol, and AIDS) are palaces in comparison to what lepers lived in.
- In A.D. 33, there were no disability checks, no welfare, no food card, no hospitals – lepers were completely abandoned. There were no relief organizations.
- THEY WERE SOCIALLY OSTRACIZED
- They were cast out of their homes, forbidden from entering any town. They couldn’t have contact with their families.
- They had to stay off all the roads and if they saw a person approaching them, they were to cover their faces and yell “Unclean! Unclean!”
- They had to live out in the weather and the only way they could get food was by begging at a distance or picking through garbage dumps.
- THEIR PHYSICAL CONDITIONS
- Lepers were hideous to look at. Their noses, lips and ears were usually eaten off. Their teeth had fallen out, and they’d lost fingers, toes and sometimes hands and arms.
- Their skin often had patches of raw flesh and they had areas that were rotting and stinking.
- WORST SUFFERING
- But worst were the haunting memories of loved ones they could never visit again – loving wives or husbands, precious children they longed to see and touch.
- They’d lost their homes, careers, respect, and all hope of usefulness. The only thing ahead of them was a horrible death!
- That’s why scripture uses leprosy as a type/ comparison for sin, which eats away your spirit and destroys you.
These ten men with leprosy seem to have formed their own fellowship. They were no longer Jew or Samaritan–they were lepers. They were outcasts. They were miserable in their disease and they had no hope for the future. One day they heard that Jesus was coming to their region. They found hope in Jesus. They must have heard how he had healed other men with leprosy. As Jesus entered their village, they came to meet Jesus by standing some distance away. They came to Jesus with sincerity and respect to ask his help.
These men with leprosy called out, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” They were wretched in their leprosy. In their helplessness, they begged Jesus’ pity. What did Jesus do? Jesus saw them (14a). The verse 14 says, “When he saw them….” Jesus did not pass them by. Jesus did not withdraw himself from them not to be infected. Jesus did not ignore their cry for mercy. Jesus stopped and looked at them, letting his eyes settle on them one by one. Jesus was looking at them, knew how they were, what they were going through, and had compassion on each of them. As he saw them, Jesus’ heart was moved and he decided to heal them. Even in the midst of his personal trials and suffering, Jesus had mercy on them and wanted to heal them.
How did Jesus heal them? Jesus said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” He did not touch them as he did before in healing another leper (Lk 5:12-16)). Instead, he told them to go and show themselves to the priests without proof of healing. According to Jewish law, after examination by the priests, they could obtain a certificate of recovery and enter society as normal men. Jesus told them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” Knowing that they just recognized Jesus as “Master”, not Son of David that means Messiah, Jesus wanted them to know who he truly was. Before healing them, he offered them himself first. So, he challenged them to go and show themselves to the priests without directly curing them. Jesus wanted them to obey his word by faith, this way they can experience and see Jesus truly just like Peter saw God in Jesus by catching so many fish when he obeyed Jesus’ word (Lk 5:1-11). These men came to Jesus to be healed of their leprosy. But Jesus wanted to do more than that. Jesus taught them to trust and obey his word. Jesus taught them to have faith in what they did not see. Jesus had hope for these men with leprosy. Of course, Jesus wanted them to be healed, to marry and live a normal life. But more than that, Jesus wanted them to learn obedient faith and grow spiritually as children of God. In our time, people come to Jesus for help to solve problems out of their physical needs. But Jesus saw these men with leprosy with hope that they would be raised as spiritual children of God.
Verse 14b says, “And as they went, they were cleansed.” The men with leprosy may have been surprised at Jesus’ words. It was not what they expected. But they did not hesitate. They turned to go to the priests. As they did so, something miraculous happened. The rotting flesh and open sores were suddenly healed. Their saddle nose was filled, and lost fingers and toes grew all of sudden. Discoloration of their skin suddenly disappeared, the skin became intact and fresh just like baby’s brand new skin. All of sudden, their damaged body became clean! The devastating leprosy was gone, and a new day of life was dawning. Jesus is the Messiah who heals incurable diseases by his power. Jesus heals any kind of disease when we trust and obey. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Co 5:17)
Third, Jesus blesses one who gives thanks (15-19).
Look at verse 15. “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.” We can imagine how happy this man must have been to see that he had been healed. He was happier than a person who lost his pot belly in an instant. He was happier than a poor student who suddenly got all A’s on his report card. He was happier than a homely woman who suddenly receives a marriage proposal from the most handsome young man. It was the mercy of God on a wretched man with leprosy. He saw God in Jesus. He saw the love of God in Jesus. He was overwhelmed by the fact that God loved him and that Jesus had healed him personally when he obeyed his word. So he came back, praising God in a loud voice. As he had cried for pity with a loud voice, now he also praised God with a loud voice.
Look at verse 16. “He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him–and he was a Samaritan.” Throwing himself at Jesus’ feet was an act of surrender. He knew he was nothing but a man with leprosy. He could not do anything to help himself. But when he came to Jesus by faith, Jesus healed him out of his divine mercy. The man had a new life by the grace of Jesus. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet to express his submission to Jesus. He gave his new life to Jesus.
The man also thanked Jesus. His thanksgiving was not superficial. His heart was overflowing with gratitude to Jesus. He was like the woman whose sins were forgiven who poured out her perfume and tears on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair (7:38). Luke pays special attention to the fact that this man was a Samaritan. In fact, he was a normal man who thanked God for his grace.
Look at verses 17-18. 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?” Jesus knew that all ten were cleansed. But nine of them did not come back. Nine of them did not praise God for what he had done. It seems that to them, getting the benefit was everything. They were not interested in knowing Jesus better. They did not think it necessary to praise and thank God. Jesus’ question implies that it was their spiritual duty to return and give praise to God. It was what a normal man who bears God’s image would do. Their failure to do so was a sin of omission. It was a sin of ingratitude. They took Jesus’ grace for granted. It was a big mistake. According to Romans 1:21, not thanking God is the starting point of a horrible degeneration into sin.
It was a sorrowful moment when Jesus found that his own people, the Jews, were ungrateful and ungodly. At the same time, Jesus was comforted by the one Samaritan who did return and thank him with great affection and wholehearted devotion. Jesus poured out another blessing on this man. Look at verse 19. “Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’” Jesus accepted his submission. Jesus accepted the dedication of his new life to Christ. Jesus acknowledged his faith. And Jesus sent this man out to live happily by the grace of God. This man was embarking on a life of spiritual growth in the image of God. Jesus expected to see this man again in the kingdom of God. Though he was a Samaritan leper, he had the image of the elders who surround the throne of God who fall at his feet, laying their crowns before him (Rev 4:10,11).
In this passage we learn a valuable lesson. We must thank God for his grace in our lives. By God’s grace, our terrible sins have been forgiven. We must thank God for this. In addition, there are so many good things God does for us each day. We must see what God has done and thank God always. Apostle Paul said, “…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1Th 5:18). Those who thank God can grow in faith to inherit the kingdom of God. But those who do not thank God do not grow. There are so many people who use their loud voice to cry out to God when they are in trouble. But when God answers their prayer and rescues them, they do not even whisper “Thank you.” Then they do not grow and they wonder why they are not growing. Sometimes they even blame God. But those who learn to thank God can grow continuously and be useful servants of God.
Jesus himself showed us the best example of giving thanks to God. It was the night of the Last Supper. In just a few hours Jesus would be arrested, tried and crucified. His disciples were not really mature. One of them would betray him. Another would deny knowing him. They would all run away from the cross. But Jesus was thankful to God. When he shared the bread with them, he gave thanks. When he shared the cup with them, he gave thanks. Then Jesus went to the cross and offered his body and blood for the sin of the world. God blessed his offering and made Jesus the source of eternal salvation for all who believe in him.
Grandfather Noah had the difficult task of building an ark to save his family from the flood judgment. It took a long time and much hard labor. When the flood subsided, the earth was barren. It was time to start all over again from the beginning. But Noah was thankful to God for sparing his life and his family. He was thankful to God for giving mankind a new beginning. The first thing he did was build an altar and offer a sacrifice to God. God smelled the pleasing aroma and gave him a wonderful promise that he would not destroy the earth again by a flood.
Apotle Paul was on an evangelistic journey with Silas. When they preached the gospel in Philippi, there was a work of God. At the same time there was a work of Satan. Paul and Silas were arrested and put in jail. They could have cried over their wounds and circumstances. They could have said to God, “Why did you treat us like this after all we did for you?” But they did not. They began to sing hymns to God with a loud voice. They thanked God from the jail. They praised God from the jail. Then God poured out a blessing on them. God opened the prison and gave them a chance to escape. But they did not. They stayed for the sake of the jailer who was about to commit suicide. It led to the conversion of this one man and his family. It produced a marvelous spiritual blessing on the gospel ministry in Philippi. Philippi became the support base for Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys.
Early American forefathers had a difficult time to pioneer this land. The Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony suffered a 50% fatality rate their first winter in America. But they had faith in God, and God helped them overcome the situation with faith. The next fall, after harvesting some crops, they held a thanksgiving celebration to God. It became the seed of the Thanksgiving holiday we know today. God blessed their thanksgiving and poured out his grace on America.
The essence of Thanksgiving is to give thanks to Jesus and our God in our all circumstances. Count your blessings. Count your blessings one by one. For example, health, every system in our body is indeed working great. Best of all is our Lord Jesus. I am so thankful that even though he knew everything about me he still died in my place, opening up the way to eternal life for me.
This passage portraits Jesus Messiah, the compassionate and mighty healer who can even cure such devastating leprosy instantly. It challenges us to decide whether we will be thankful people or unthankful people. When we thank God, we can grow spiritually and receive superior blessing from the Messiah. But when we don’t thank God, we may be able to solve our problems, but we lose our connection with Christ. May God help each of us offer sincere thanksgiving to God for what he has done! Let us meet God personally by thanking him and grow continually in faith and grace. Happy Thanksgiving!