The parable of the ten lepers shows us several things. It speaks of faith, healing and gratitude. It also shows us that you cannot always know who it is that will most likely be the one that comes to the Lord. And in his lesson we need to recognise that all good things are from the Lord and we should give him thanks.
The Lepers Situation
Leprosy is a debilitating disease. In modern times it has been controlled with medicine, but in the days of the Lord it was incurable and was a slow growing and painful disease. It is infectious and contagious and as a result lepers were shunned and separated from the community into a lepers colony.
In this parable, Jesus came upon ten lepers who stood off at a distance and raising their voices besought him saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” (Verse 13) Jesus responded telling them to go and show themselves to the priests. Under the Law of Moses when a person was cleansed of leprosy their was a ritual they followed which included certain sacrifices and showing themself to the priests. What Jesus told them to do was in accordance with the law so that when they did they would be given a clean bill of health.
The Journey to the Priests
As the ten lepers went on their way they were cleansed and made clean. It is certain that all ten of them would have seen this and knew they had been cleansed, but only one of them realised where this blessing had come from.
Rather than continue on, it says, “…turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.” (Verse 15-16) He recognised the power of God to heal him had come through Jesus word. And in his joy he returned to give thanks to the one who had given him his freedom from this debilitating disease.
Jesus then makes the comment, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Verses 17-18) This man was a Samaritan and not a Jew and although a foreigner he was the only one of the ten lepers to return and give thanks to God.
Presumably the other nine continued on their way and went to the priests and followed the commandment for the cleansing of the leprosy. They would still have received their healing, but they did not recognise the source of the healing or give thanks to Jesus for it. But this Samaritan, and Jews had no dealings with Samaritans out of pride and arrogance as they considered themselves better than Samaritans, was the only one to humble himself and return to Jesus to give thanks.
We then see Jesus give him a new set of instructions. Instead of telling him to turn around and continue back to do the process required in the law he shows the Samaritan leper has found the better and higher process. Jesus says to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Verse 19)
The Power of Faith
The ten lepers were healed not through following the commandments in the law but through the intervention of the Lord. The Samaritan leper who returned to give praise and thanks to Jesus recognised this and the Lord saw that he had faith. Then he releases him from the requirement to follow the edict of the law for he says, “go your way,” rather than go the way he had previously been instructed.
Previously he was told to go the way of the law to receive confirmation of the healing, but in his faith he returned to Jesus. Then Jesus released him from the requirement, not through anything the leper had done, but through a recognition of his faith. This principle crops up time and again in the New Testament and is another example of the fact that life is based upon seeking the Lord Jesus through faith, not via the path of the law.
There is eternal life possible through the law, but perfection can only come through Jesus Christ. The law will teach us right from wrong, but it also stands as a constant reminder of sin. But when we come to Jesus through faith, our sin is “healed” and taken away, just as the leprosy was taken away from this Samaritan leper.
Praise be to God for this opportunity to know him and be known by him so that we can come to Jesus and be transformed into the image of God.
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