Lessons from the Lepers

“Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?”  (Luke 17:17 NIV)

The Word teaches us in Luke 17 that Jesus healed ten men with leprosy. Lepers were social outcasts in Bible times and were forbidden from intermingling with others in society (Leviticus 13).   These ten men were living a life of extreme agony.  Leprosy attacks the body, leaving sores, missing fingers, missing toes, and damaged limbs. In many cases, the initial pain of leprosy gives way to something more terrible than that – a loss of sensation in nerve endings, leading to more damage to more body parts.

Lepers tended to roam together, looking for food, begging for assistance from a great distance, learning to yell in loud voices, both from the need to warn others, and to beg for help from across 

the way.  What would it have been like to have been removed from friends and family for a lifetime, and to have been forced to announce yourself as “unclean” on a daily basis?  In Luke 17:11-19, ten men with leprosy encounter Jesus, and asked from a distance to be healed.

The local priests had duties other than leading worship on each Sabbath. They were also a health official. If a person was miraculously healed of leprosy, it was up to the priest to inspect the body, to test for a complete removal of the disease, and to announce the person healed. In such cases, the person would have been cleansed, and at that point, it would be fine for the leper to see his family again.

Now, Jesus says to these lepers, “Go and show yourselves to the priests… (Luke 17:14).”  He did not heal them on the spot.  He wanted to see their response.  They left to see the priests and “…as they went, they were cleansed” (Luke 17:14).  They left Jesus in the same condition as what they found Him.  For the miracle to happen, these men had to start walking in faith before their circumstances had changed one tiny bit.  Many times Jesus healed and acknowledged the person’s faith.  The first recorded instance of Jesus saying, “Your faith has made you well” is found in Matthew 9:22 where Jesus heals the woman with the issue of blood.

Below are a few lessons that I think we can glean from this short but powerful Scripture.

You cannot wait until the problems are over to start walking in faith.

You cannot put conditions on God. You cannot say, “Lord, as soon as I have enough money, time, or feel better I follow your instructions.  God wants us to respond as did the first disciples and follow Him now.   God loves us so much that He will give us the opportunity to be thankful when nothing seems worthy of thanks. That is the very definition of faith.

Be thankful in the work of God’s goodness.

One of the men came back to Jesus, and praised God. He was thankful. This is worship.

Express thanksgiving.

Only one healed leper came back. “Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? (Luke 17:17.”  Jesus never commanded that any of them express thankfulness to God, or return to Him.   The race of the nine that did not return is not disclosed in the Scripture.  However, if they were Jews, then they would have had the Torah and know the importance of thanksgiving to God as expressed by the Psalmist (Psalm 50:23, Psalm 100:1-5, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 118:28-29).

Jesus welcomes all.

The man that came back was a Samaritan.  Jews disliked Samaritans and viewed them as idolatrous.  The man knew that Jesus was a Jew, but he elected to put faith above race, a great example for us today.

Prayer:  Dear God:  We come to you today in need of mental, physical, or spiritual healing.  We ask in your name for Your healing.  Shine your face upon us.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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