Meet the Samaritan Leper

Luke 17:11-19

11-13 It happened that as he made his way toward Jerusalem, he crossed over the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance but raised their voices, calling out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

14-16 Taking a good look at them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”

They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough—and he was a Samaritan.

17-19 Jesus said, “Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?” Then he said to him, “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”

It’s said by many that “misery loves company.” So here we were, ten men banded together, each as lost and far gone as the other. Once our lives were whole and normal–wives and children, homes and jobs, but those wonderful things had been ripped away when we were told we had leprosy.

And basically, I was an outcast among outcasts. I was the sole Samaritan among Jews; not that it mattered anymore–those kinds of distinctions were no longer an issue between us. What we all were facing was a “slow-motion” death. There was absolutely nothing anyone could do, being a leper meant we were beyond any hope.

Do you have any idea what leprosy is?

It was the ultimate impurity–we were the bottom part of the “bottom of the barrel.” Every morning we sat down and unrolled our dirty bandages. We counted fingers and toes–and we examined each other’s faces noses, and ears. Leprosy numbs, the nerves become insensitive. Essentially we were rotting away before each other’s eyes.

We scavenged for food mostly, sometimes our families would set out baskets of bread and fish, maybe some wine we hoped. And sometimes they wrote us notes which could be both good and bad–they just reminded us that all we knew was gone. We would share these with each other, somehow we wanted and needed that bittersweet solace.

I believed that God, in His infinite wisdom, had cursed me.

We were the damned. Walking and talking zombies who were just waiting to die.

We talked among ourselves–the healings that Jesus was doing were fascinating to us. The blind received sight, demons were evicted, the crippled and lame now walked tall and whole. We joked about our little group meeting Jesus for ourselves, but we were imagining the impossible. When you’ve lost enough hope, black humor settles in to stay.

We somehow heard that Jesus was going to travel near us, so we walked to a hill by the road where we might see him come by. It seemed foolish, but it was better than just sitting. It would be good to see what the fuss was all about. We saw a group that was coming down the road–it was Jesus and his followers, so we waited.

“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

Suddenly that became our desperate cry. Each of us stood and screamed out to Him in our lostness–that got His attention. He turned to look at us, and then declared these powerfully gentle and healing words, ““Go, show yourselves to the priests.” That was it, six words, no theatrics.

But as I said before, I was a spiritual outcast, a Samaritan, and going to the priests wasn’t possible. So instead I went directly to Jesus. You should have seen me, I was kneeling and shouting praises to God! Dear one, joy was an understatement–I was astonished at new hands and toes, ears and skin. Where there was once rotten flesh there was now fresh skin–baby soft and brand new.

I was now whole!

Where the nine others went, I don’t know. All I truly knew was that my leprosy was instantly gone.

Lord Jesus, you rule over all sickness and disease. I was like this leper, I had no hope, but you found me and set me free. You forgave my sin. Thank you for finding and healing me. Help me to follow you. Amen.

Image: CNN, Scripture “The Message, by Eugene Peterson.

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