This week's Bible Lesson includes the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers. This is a familiar one so I took some time this morning to research it a bit for fresh insight. One of my favorite sources for information about Jesus' healing works is the Miracles of Jesus by R. C. Trench. As many times as I have used that book, it never fails to show me something new.
For example, I did not realize that this encounter took place on Jesus' last journey to keep the passover in Jerusalem. It adds significance to the healed leper being a Samaritan. As Jesus and his disciples made this long walk to Jerusalem he chose to take the direct route which led through Samaria where the people were hostile to the pilgrims.
As they entered a certain village they are met by ten lepers. This is recorded in Luke's gospel. Luke was a physcian as well as an historian and he took special notice of physical healings. These poor outcasts were not just Jews for a Samaritan is among them. Leprosy was considered to be the outward symbol of great sin, so great that it meant a separation from God as well as man. There were laws about lepers and they were required to distance themselves from contact with anyone. Yet they held out some hope for a cure for this supposedly uncurable disease for they called out to Jesus for mercy. Those with leprosy often lost their voice so it required some effort for them to speak upl.
Jesus responds. He does not call them to him but tells them to go show themselves to the priests. The must obey before there is any evidence that the healing has occured. They were to show their faith before the physical symptoms disappeared. They must see that it was not the priests who would effect the healing, but the priests would witness to it and declare them clean to all. The priests were not expected to heal, only to pronounce their cleanness.
The men started on their way and may have gotten partway there before the physical picture changed. Enough of a distance to make it an effort to turn back, but the Samaritan made that effort. He went back to express his gratitude. Even Jesus was surprised that the others did not for asked where are the nine. This Samaritan shows qualities not unlike the Good Samaritan in the parable Jesus taught his disciples. And for this he is granted a second blessing, thy faith hath made thee whole. Whole, all things restored that had appeared to rot away, even his voice so that he could thank Jesus in a loud voice.
Perhaps this showed that the Gentiles were not to be excluded from the kingdom of God. Just as those who do not practice Christian Science are not excluded from its blessings. The ungrateful ones were endangering themselves. It is best to be among the faithful. Even if we feel we are suffering the effects of some sin, our true sinless nature is all that is apparent to the Christ. And that correct view of man healed then...and heals now.