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Bible Gem 1101 - One Grateful Samaritan (Luke 17:11-19)

July 7, 2019

As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, He reached the border between Galilee and Samaria.

As He entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance,crying out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"He looked at them and said,"Go show yourselves to the priests."And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, "Praise God! He fell to the ground at Jesus' feet, thanking Him for what He had done. This man was a Samaritan.Jesus asked,"Didn't I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?"And Jesus said to the man,"Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you. " (Luke 17:11-19)


Yesterday I gave you a list of points to ponder: 


The lepers stood at a distance . . . and yelled

Lepers were commanded to stand at a distance.

They were not allowed to associate with non-leprous people. They were banished to the nether-world. It is to be expected that Jesus would encounter the lepers on the border of Galilee and Samaria, in no-man's land. The lepers likely as not didn’t enter the village. By Jewish law they were not permitted to enter villages. They cried out from a distance. Literally lifted up their voice (collectively). They raised their voices and yelled out to attract His attention. 




The word for master here, is [epistates] which is a recognition of someone above them in status. It is normally used as a term of respect or recognition of one above you. It doesn't carry the connotation of intimacy or relationship, such as a follower or the rabbi or master. But Luke does not use the term for rabbi anywhere in his gospel. This term is the substitute – teacher, honoured one. That they have combined the term with His name Jesus, shows they are well aware of Who He is. Some suggest they knew because He has been this way before. I would say, how could they not be aware because the news is being spread from village to village as Jesus and the band of disciples move toward Jerusalem. Note that in this story there is not one mention of the disciples, only Jesus alone. 


have mercy on us

Strange, isn't it. They clearly wanted to be healed, yet they don't ask for healing. They ask for mercy. Do they perceive on a deeper level, just Who this is they are dealing with? Or is it that they don't want to come straight out and say, heal us? Rather, they leave the choice to Him. Are you confident enough in Jesus to leave the choice to Him? Besides, the mercy of God can include healing. That is obvious, but also it includes so much more than healing. The best healing touch you can get from Jesus is not that which touches your outer carcass. It is the kind that heals the deep hurts within, and even more, grants to you the ability to repent and receive new life. If you have to choose between your body healed or your soul healed, then choose your soul every time. 


He looked at them 

It seems this time Jesus kept His distance. He remained at a distance from them and spoke instructions as to what to do, from afar. Last time (Luke 5) he touched the leper, something that was unheard of. This time His method was less personal, more in keeping with the rules, but just as effective. 


show yourselves to the priests 

What an interesting statement!" Go, show yourself to the priests." You do something first. Go to the priest. People only went to the priest in cases like these, to have the health check to pronounce you are healed from your contagion. But in this example, Jesus tells them to go, clearly before they are healed. Why on earth would they go to the priest when they were still leprous? Not only does it make no sense from their point of view, but it was an affront to the priest to go to him if you were still clearly leprous. You were contravening all the laws if you approached the priests while still leprous. This is another test of faith, like that of the first leper who was asked to do the hardest thing, to stretch out his hand. In this case, the ten lepers have to exercise their faith and go to the priest while still leprous. Often, Jesus will give you something to do to test your faith. You exercise your faith by doing what He said. 


Notice that it says priests, not priest. It is most likely that it is plural, not because this group had to go to the Sanhedrin or a group or priests gathered together. Rather, they were likely to have been from different villages or regions. Their local priest was the one who declared them unclean and so they need to go, each one individually, to the priest who had pronounced them leprous in the first place. Thus, the plural reflects that a number of priests were involved in the case of ten different men healed of leprosy. 


as they went, they were cleansed

In their going, on the way, as they went – they were healed. One would expect that if they had not obeyed, they would not have been healed. Take the Lord at His word and do what He tells you. There are many examples in Scripture of this. Often times with the healing of leprosy. Read the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. That is such an interesting story. There are lots of details hidden in this story too. Many times like in Naaman's case we want something impressive to happen. Take note of 2 Kings 5:11 - 12. These 10 lepers could have thought like Naaman, why would I want to go all the way to the priest like this. He could have healed me here and now if He was going to. What nonsense. No point wasting all that time. NO! Make sure you do all that He tells you (John 2:5). I know this from experience – see Gem 433.


One of them came back to Jesus, shouting, "Praise God! // "Didn't I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?

Only one came back. One out of 10. That is not good odds. Only one of these men was grateful and gave thanks to Whom thanks was due. Interestingly, he came back. When, we don't know. Did he come back after he had been healed but before he saw the priest, or after he had been to the priest? I suspect the former. Jesus was not staying in one place. He was on the move. In all probability, the Samaritan would have gone to the worship centre at Mt Gerazim. So he likely didn’t have time to see the priest first. The inference is that they were all healed soon after leaving Jesus. So in all likelihood, he would have returned straight away to say thanks. Mmm, where were the other nine who were also healed? 


fell to the ground at Jesus' feet . . . no one gave glory to God except this foreigner

Clearly, falling to the ground is to pay homage and give worship to one far greater. Many times in Scripture, people who fell at the feet of a human being, were told to get up. But in this case, it was entirely appropriate. This one Samaritan has recognized Who he is dealing with here. Cutting through all his Samaritan teaching, he realizes he is face to face with the One that they are all waiting for and falls at His feet to worship Him. The very one who the Jews would have thought least likely to give glory to God, indeed does so. The 9 who ought to have recognized and worshipped, didn't. Only this foreigner. 


This man was a Samaritan.

Ah, the Samaritan connection. Luke's is the one with the most references to the Samaritans, with 5 if we include his second book (Acts) as well. John has four references to the Samaritans. Note also, the underlying animosity toward the Samaritans coming primarily from the Pharisees and leaders of Israel. Remember, the Pharisees think the Samaritans will not go to heaven, simply because they were born Samaritans. They used to pray, "I thank you Lord, You didn’t make me a woman, a dog or a Samaritan." It was like the Samaritans were the lowest of the low in their eyes. Luke seems to deliberately include references to the Samaritans in his ordered account. I think listing the Samaritan village first here is a link to the Good Samaritan, the Pharisees' attitude toward them, which we have only just passed in the Lazarus parable. Luke makes it a point to include the Samaritans numbers of times, and always to paint them in a good light.

your faith has healed you.

Hang on a moment. "You have been healed because of your faith." How can a Samaritan have faith? Faith is not found outside of the community of Israel, so the Pharisees thought. What faith? The faith he had by virtue of taking Jesus at His word and heading to the priest, before there was any sign of his healing. That act secured his healing. I wonder too, if the fact that he came back to give thanks, secured his healing. Could the others lose theirs because they didn’t thank God for what He had done for them? I am not saying that is the case. It is just interesting that these last two verses have been placed in juxtaposition. Does one connect to the other? 


I am sure I don't have to say it now, but I will spell it out anyway. My hunch is that Luke has saved this story from "up north" and introduced it here after the Lazarus story, because of the Samaritan theme. I believe the reason this story is where it is, is due to the fact that Luke is selecting his material because of it's thematic component. As I have said many times before, Luke's ordered account is based on the themes he develops and not the chronological order of events in which they happened. So therefore, there is no need for us to ponder the accuracy of some of the elements in Luke's gospel because they don't fit the chronology, because his gospel isn't written for that reason. Hence, we don't have to spend time doubting Luke's accuracy as many Bible critics do. Chill out. Learn to read his gospel through a new grid. 


Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. Mark Twain


Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation. Ian


When we trade our expectation for appreciation, our whole world changes instantly. Sidney Mohede


We all have big problems, big worries, big questions. So we need a big view of God. How? Worship -- it enlarges our view of God. Max Lucado





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