Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy
11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Observations & Reflections
Jesus was last located near Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem (Luke 10:38-41). Luke does not say Jesus was in Bethany but the gospel of John Mary and Martha’s house is listed as being in Bethany (John 12:1). It appears that Jesus had done some walking between chapters 10 and 17. However, Luke is not always as orderly and chronological as one would hope. For example, in 17:20 Luke opens a story with “once”, meaning it’s a story that happened but not linked to any chronology.
In 17:11 Luke places Jesus just south of his home territory in Galilee. This area is likely to be free of most religious leaders like the Pharisees and Scribes, who remained more in Jerusalem than anywhere else. Moreover, in the NW corner (refer to map) is Mt. Carmel which is a site of “pagan” worship, as is Mt Gerizim in central Samaria. Jesus is now surrounded by Samaritan and Gentile peoples, with a smattering of Jews like himself and the disciples.
The events of this healing story are remarkable for a few reasons. 1) Jesus’ personal space is protected by the lepers who would not go near him, as they were both lepers and Samaritans. Though the one who returns to thank Jesus appears to have likely touched Jesus’ foot. Still, it is a great insight into the culture. 2) Jesus sends them to the priest which is around 50 miles away in Jerusalem. If one walked the average pace of 3 mph then it would take about 16 hours walking to get to Jerusalem. It would appear that Jesus was in this location for at least a few days which is likely why 9 out of 10 lepers did not return to Jesus’ location to thank him. 3) Jesus refer’s to himself as God, at least it seems.
Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner? (Luke 17:18)
The interesting thing about Jesus’ statement in verse 18 is that Jesus is in the land of the foreigners yet he refers to the one leper as a foreigner, possibly indicating that the others we Jews? It seems odd that Jesus would be in a Samaritan area yet refers to one of them as a foreigner when Jesus was technically the foreigner. I believe this speaks to the large amount of Jews living in Samaria and especially Galilee.
The story itself is about the faith of the Samaritan leper. Luke is once again emphasizing the point of faith in chapter 17. Luke is also displaying his emphasis on salvation to the Gentiles. One does not have to be a Jew to receive salvation or even receive circumcision. If you are willing to have faith in Jesus and follow him then you are part of the kingdom. It’s that simple. Never let rules and rituals be a basis for salvation.