The Ten Lepers
Leprosy in the ancient world may not have been the same illness, “Hansen’s Disease,” that we call leprosy today. It may have been a combination of several sexually-transmitted, or contact-transmitted infectious illnesses, serious enough to warrant the identification, isolation, and healing procedures in the Law of Moses.
Lepers in ancient Israel lived in isolation from the community, but they could be cured by the healing prayers of the Levitical priests. When certified cured, ex-lepers could rejoin the community. Leprosy was considered not only a contagious biological disease, it rendered the afflicted person “unclean” – excluding that individual not only from living in the covenant community of Israel but also from participating in the religious services of the Tabernacle or Temple.
One of the most striking examples of cure and restoration from leprosy is recorded in Luke Chapter 17.
“Now it happened as Jesus went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”
Jesus healed ten lepers all at once when they called out to Him from a distance. To our amazement, He did not inquire about their history or their backgrounds. He did not ask them about their faith or their plans for the future. (Here is one of many related stories in the gospels that shows the readiness of God to heal). Jesus discerned the willingness of these ten men to trust Him—they had “faith” and believed Jesus was able to heal them. This example shows how compassionate Jesus was—He responded to genuine calls for help when the afflicted person believed and trusted Jesus for healing. The Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) We can expect that Jesus, the “Great Physician,” heals many today when they believe He is the Author of Life and Lord of all.
And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.
All ten lepers were instantly healed and all ten of them evidently hurried to find a Levitical priest. The priest knew the tests prescribed in the Law of Moses enabling certification that they all were indeed free of leprosy and could move back into town and resume living normal lives with their families and friends. The lepers were one step ahead of most people: they knew they were sinners in need of help, and they knew they could not save themselves.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? “Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”
The right response to Jesus for His gracious mercy came from only one of the ten lepers. Nine “disappeared” and were not heard from again. Furthermore the one man who responded with “saving faith” was a Samaritan (Jews despised Samaritans).
Today vast numbers of “religious people” and “professing Christians” have never gone further than taking one step towards knowing Jesus. Jesus often responds to a call for help which brings temporary relief because He is a man full of compassion for his fellow men.
In the account Luke recorded for us, only one leper out of ten recognized that the purpose of life is knowing Jesus Christ wholeheartedly and following Him the rest of their lives. In this situation the one-out-of-ten who was saved was a foreigner, not a Jew, not a community member of God’s people Israel. A fact of life is that hearing truth from God and not responding to that truth causes truth to be taken away!
And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19)
Jesus came to His own people late in their history. He was right on schedule according to the Law and the Prophets. He extended the gifts of God to all of mankind under a new covenant. This moving account of the salvation of one representative Gentile sinner—a leper—shows clearly the compassionate heart of the one true God. Many people in need ask for help from God—and receive it immediately. But this latter group has been given only temporary help. Unless these fortunate sinners continue to follow Jesus and step over the line of full surrender to Jesus they have believed in vain.
Worship is a mark of genuine belief in Jesus. When one of us sinners really sees who Jesus is, awe and respect well up inside. Almost all of us Americans “know about” Jesus, or simply know who He is. Many, many Americans have cried out to Jesus and received His help, His mercy, His compassion, His love...
But, there are no lepers in heaven, no sinners of any kind—only those fully indwelt with His resurrected life!
“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-6:1)
What are we compelled to? We can constantly be asking ourselves what the Spirit of "Love", who we have in us, "compels" us to do. Just one of the things our Lord wants to do is to continue His ministry through us in order to enlarge His coming kingdom by seeking the spiritually lost and weak. And now, "we regard no one according to" a fleshly (worldly) view, but rather with a "new" eye looking at their spiritual need. Is not every leper in need of healing, and a mighty realization of God's "grace"?
Finally, may we all have genuine belief and worship Jesus in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).
My Life: This summer I completed teaching Paul’s Letter to the Romans at my home Church, Peninsula Bible Church of Palo Alto, CA. Audio files and class notes may be accessed from my web site. I still stay very busy in my internet ministry with daily emails from many seekers and saints with questions about website material and spiritual questions & dilemmas.
Finances: My financial needs continue to be a very heavy burden to daily bear. I am always incredibly blessed when manna miraculously shows up. Our Lord Jesus has proven 100% reliable in my life so far. May I ask for you to pray for me and my financial situation? Jesus has help available for sparrows, for lepers, and for repentant sinners. Drop me an email if you need me to pray for you.
Contributions: The Blue Letter Bible ministry has graciously provided me an ideal channel for tax-deductible donations. If you would like a tax receipt, send your check to: Blue Letter Bible ATTN: Lambert Dolphin Ministries (LDM), 29 Rancho Circle, Lake Forest, CA 92630 (Please make your check out to "Blue Letter Bible" and mark "LDM" in the memo field of your check). Thank you very much! You may send cash contributions directly to my PayPal Account... http://www.ldolphin.org/donations.html. Such contributions (PayPal) are tax free to me, though not to you.
Book: My colleague Ron Graf and I hope you will obtain copies of our book on Bible Prophecy, Connecting the Dots... http://bible-prophecy.com/connecting.
Contacting me: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://ldolphin.org; Apologetics and Q&A: http://paracleteforum.org; Previous newsletters: http://ldolphin.org/news. I try to answer all my email, but I am not very good at returning phone calls, largely because of telephone solicitors. Everything I have written ends up on my web site. Please visit there often and write me when you see something of interest.
September 10, 2013
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