The tenth leper

This is a case study of the healing received by the tenth leper.
Once Jesus was going through an area between Samaria and Galilee.
On the way He was met by ten lepers.
They cried for mercy and Jesus healed them.
All of them, except one, rushed to show themselves to the priest to be declared as clean.
Only one of them, the tenth leper, returned to Christ to give a personal thanks.
This story is recorded by Luke and none other gospel writes have narrated it.
This miracle emphasizes the importance of faith. The account is full of salvific meaning.
And in this message we are focusing on the salvific meaning of this incident.
Let us read the story according to Luke:

Luke 17:11-19 (NKJV)

11  Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 
12  Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 
13  And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
14  So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.
15  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 
16  and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.
17  So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 
18  Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 
19  And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

Luke starts his narration by saying that Jesus, his apostles and a small crowd of people were going through the region between Samaria and Galilee towards Jerusalem.
Numerous scholars have pointed to the geographical difficulty in this description, since no such geographical region exists.
Jesus might have gone through an area between Samaria and Jewish land.
But Luke specify the area as between Samaria and Galilee with a special purpose in his mind.
We shall learn about it in the last part of this message.
The next verse says that Jesus “entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.”
That means, as Jesus was entering a certain village, on the way to Jerusalem, through an area between the outcast Samaria and Jewish Galilee, the lepers came to meet Him.
But they stood far off, because the lepers were not allowed to enter the village.

Leprosy was a common name for all skin diseases that was deep and infectious, during the Biblical time.
So it is to understand that ten men had infectious skin diseases, commonly translated as “leprosy.”
It was not necessarily that they had what we know as leprosy today, though it might have been an endemic in the region.
The term was also used for other kinds of skin conditions.

In the Israelite community, when a person discovered a rash or skin disorder on his body, the person had to go to the priest for examination.
The priest then determined whether this was a contagious disease and whether the person was to be declared ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 13:1).
Jewish law prohibited anyone with such a disease from associating with the general community.
They had to be isolated and many times lived as outcasts until they died (Leviticus 13:45–46).
This was necessary in order to keep infectious diseases from becoming an epidemic.
But, for those afflicted, it could be a life sentence.
Thus, the men with leprosy were social outcasts, as well as being ill.
They were outcasts from their community and lived in certain areas outside the camp of the Israelites, where they gather together for personal safety and to combat their isolation.

Now, let us see in detail, the ceremonial checkup and out casting of lepers as recorded in Leviticus 13.
While giving the Laws to Moses, Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron concerning the leprosy and other contagious skin deceases.
When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes on the skin of his body like a leprous sore, then he shall be brought to the priest.
The priest shall examine the sore on the skin of the body and if it is leprous sore, the priest pronounce him unclean.
If found to be infected, “the leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’
He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease.
He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the Israelites camp. (Leviticus 13:45-46)
The leper then was considered utterly unclean—physically and spiritually.

In the Bible, the word leprosy is mentioned more than of 40 times.
Leprosy was common in Bible times, and the many references to it were well understood by those who lived in unsanitary conditions.
The main reason why leprosy is talked about so much in the Bible is that it is a graphic illustration of the destructive power of sin.
In ancient Israel leprosy was a powerful object lesson of the debilitating influence of sin in a person’s life.
Among the sixty-one defilements of ancient Jewish laws, leprosy was second only to a dead body in seriousness.

In the description in Leviticus, we notice two particular words: “unclean” and “outside the camp”.
When a skin disease is found on a person, he is brought to a priest and not to a physician.
That is a vivid and graphic physical picture of the spiritual defilement of sin.
It is examined by the priest, declare unclean by him and cast out of the Israelite camp.

A leper wasn’t allowed to come within six feet of any other human, including his own family.
The disease was considered so revolting that the leper wasn’t permitted to come within 150 feet of anyone when the wind was blowing.
Lepers lived in a community with other lepers until they either got better or died.
This was the only way the people knew to contain the spread of the contagious forms of leprosy.

Leprosy is a skin disease but is closely associated with sin in the Bible.
In fact all diseases humans suffer are an after effect of sin that Adam and Eve committed.
Diseases slowly degrade our physical body to death. Sin also degrade our spiritual life to eternal death.
The original sin has brought on us the punishment for sin that is manifested as disease, pain, curse and death.
This is a common understanding of all Christians.

Leprosy sin is ugly, loathsome, incurable, and contaminating.
It separates men from God and makes them outcasts.
The instructions given to the priests in Leviticus 13 help us understand the nature of sin.
Sin is inside us, deeper than the skin (Leviticus 13:3); it spreads (Leviticus 13:8) and sin always defiles and isolates (Leviticus 13:45-46).
And just as leprous garments are fit only for the fire (Leviticus 13:52-57), so those who die clothed in sin will burn forever.

That is why in Isaiah 53, the prophet sees the healing of sin and its effect, on the cross of Jesus Christ.
In Isaiah 53, the prophet speaks about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The description goes like this:
The physical body of Jesus was so disfigured so that there was no beauty in Him.
He was despised and rejected by men and He became a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
Surely He had borne our grieves and carried away our sorrows.
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted.
And Jesus carried away our curses by hanging on the tree. (Galatians 3: 13, 14)

If diseases, pain, curse etc. are effects of sin, they must have a solution along with the forgiveness of sin. True salvation must be salvation from sin and its all punishments.
So when Jesus became an atonement for our sins, the results of sin too was carried away.
That is what we read in Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53: 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.  (NKJV)

In this verse, prophet Isaiah is blending the spiritual healing and physical healing, the salvation of our soul with the healing of our physical body.
I feel that this requires more explanation.
So to understand this verse better, let us study Matthew 8: 17 and 1 Peter 2: 24.
Quoting the same verse from Isaiah, Matthew speaks bout physical healing and Peter speaks about spiritual healing.

In Matthew 8, we read about Jesus’ visit to Peter’s house.
Peter’s mother-in-law was suffering from fever.
Jesus touched her hand and immediately she was healed.
To impress us with the miracle, Matthew continues to say that she suddenly stood up and prepared and served food for them.
The news of this miraculous healing spread around and by evening many came to Jesus with demon possessed people and people suffering from other diseases.
Jesus drove out the evil spirits with a word and healed the sick.
Suddenly Matthew remembered the prophecy of Isaiah.

Matthew 8: 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (NIV)

The verse does not mean that Jesus healed the sick with an intention to fulfill the prophecy.
It simply means that, Matthew understood the incident as the fulfillment of the prophecy.
Clearly, without any further explanation, we can understand that Matthew is talking about physical healing as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah as recorded in chapter 53.

But Peter in his epistle speaks of spiritual healing.

1 Peter 2: 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness - by whose stripes you were healed.  (NKJV)

Peter states that Jesus bore our sins in His own body on the tree.
And by his stripes we are healed.
Here peter is connecting our sins and its punishment to the physical sufferings of Jesus.

The gospel writer says that the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled when Jesus healed the sickness of people and Apostle Peter relates the same prophecy to spiritual healing.
That means in the sufferings of Jesus Christ on the cross, both physical and spiritual healing is provided.
In fact as we have already said above, the spiritual healing is closely connected to physical healing.
The spiritual depravity is punished by physical afflictions and so the spiritual healing is reflected in the physical healing.
Thus the spiritual blessing becomes the physical blessing.

Already and not yet

There is no doubt that on the Cross there is healing.
But at the same time, physical healing is not a finished work yet.
Our experience shows that we suffer sickness as we live in this world.
And it is not a matter of claiming by faith or doubting the promise.

Still any believer can enjoy perfect health as a personal promise or gift to him from God, even in these days.

Jesus paid for sins and its punishments by His stripes and the totality of His work is a truth.
Jesus had done everything for the remission of sins, once and for ever.
His sacrificial work is total and never need to repeat in any form.

But we must also say that perfect salvation, healing and deliverance from curses it is not promised to every believer right now.
That is to say the totality of our salvation is not promised to us right now.
Sin is actually not our actions in the physical body, but our nature in the physical body.
That is sin is always spiritual than physical.
Apostle Paul reveals this truth in the following verse:

Romans 7:19, 20
19   For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

So, Bible says that perfection of salvation is progressive.
That means, we have been saved (Ephesians 2:8), that we are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18), and that we will be saved (1 Corinthians 3:15).
Let us read three verses from the Bible concerning the progressive fulfilment of salvation.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (NKJV)

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  (NKJV)

1 Corinthians 3:15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  (NKJV)

If salvation is progressive that will be fulfilled in future, so healing and deliverance from curses also will be perfected in future.
That means, we have been healed, are being healed, and one day will be healed perfectly.
We are delivered from curses, being delivered and one day will be delivered perfectly.

What we experience now in this world is only “patch-up” healing and deliverance.
We are experiencing only a fore taste of a great feast that is yet to come.
It anticipates the ultimate healing that will come in future.
And God's ultimate healing is called "resurrection," and it is a glorious promise to every believer.

Doing good and healing all

Jesus went on healing many people with different sickness.
In a sense, He had a special interest to heal the physical illness of the people.
Acts 10:38 says, Jesus "went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”  (NKJV)
Jesus not only preached the Kingdom of God but went on doing good and healing.
Healing is a part of the gospel, healing is physical and spiritual.
The incident of the healing of the lepers is good example for the healing of the body and soul.

The tenth leper

Our attention, in this study is not on all the ten lepers who were healed; but on the one who came back to Jesus to thank Him.
He was a leper, so he was an outcast. He was a Samaritan, and so he was doubly an outcast from the Jewish community and their camp.
Being a leper he lived outside the camp of the Israel; being a Samaritan, he was always outside the camp of the Israel.
Healing came to this man as all others were healed.

They lived in a leper colony outside the camp. They approached Jesus together.
They remained at a distance, as per the law and cried: “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
Without seeming to do anything to heal them, Jesus merely gave the instruction to go show themselves to the priest.
They obeyed in faith the words of Jesus.
They moved forward to show themselves to the priest and as they moved forward, they were healed.
At the moment of Jesus’ instruction, “Go, show yourselves to the priests” the men were still lepers.
No physical change had yet taken place. But, in faith, the men obeyed.
Bible does not record how far they had walked before being healed.
As they began to walk to the priest, they were healed.

Jesus asked them to show themselves to the priests.
It is the priest who declared them unclean and sent them out of the camp.
The priest has to declare them clean and permit them to enter into the camp.
The procedure to examine the healed lepers again and proclaim them healed and clean is described in Leviticus 14: 1- 20.

For cleansing a leper, he is brought before the priest, outside the camp.
The priest goes out the camp and examine them. 
If the leper is healed, the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the person to be cleansed. (vs.4)
Then the priest shall order that one of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot. (vs.5)
He is then to take the live bird and dip it in the blood of the bird mixed with water.
The priest also dips the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood.
Then he sprinkles the blood on the healed leper seven times and pronounce him clean. (vs.7)
After that, he is to release the live bird in the open fields.
The healed person must wash their clothes, shave off all their hair and bathe with water; then he will be ceremonially clean. 
After this they may come into the camp, but they must stay outside their tent for seven days.
On the seventh day they must shave off all their hair; they must shave their head, their beard, their eyebrows and the rest of their hair.
They must wash their clothes and bathe themselves with water, and they will be clean.
“On the eighth day they must bring two male lambs and one ewe lamb a year old, each without defect, along with a measure of the finest flour mixed with olive oil for a grain offering, and one log of oil. (10)
The priest who pronounces them clean shall present both the one to be cleansed and their offerings before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
Then the priest is to take one of the male lambs and offer it as a guilt offering, along with the log of oil; he shall wave them before the Lord as a wave offering. (vs. 12)
He is to slaughter the lamb in the sanctuary area.
The priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot. (14)
The priest shall then take some of the log of oil, pour it in the palm of his own left hand, dip his right forefinger into the oil in his palm, and with his finger sprinkle some of it before the Lord seven times.
The priest is to put some of the oil remaining in his palm on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering. (17)
The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed and make atonement for them before the Lord. (18)
Then the priest is to sacrifice the sin offering and make atonement for the one to be cleansed from their uncleanness.  (Leviticus 14: 1- 20)

Turning to Jesus

However, only one man returned to thank Jesus for the healing.
Even though Jesus did not withhold healing from the nine who did not thank Him, He made a point of noting their lack of gratefulness (Luke 17:18).
Because they had faith, all ten were physically healed.

Luke makes special mention of the fact that the one who returned was a Samaritan, a person despised by the Jews.
Jesus expressed disappointment that the other nine had not thought to give praise to God for their healing.
But only the Samaritan turned back to praise God and “fell before his feet” and thanked Jesus.
Jesus asks rhetorically, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
This questioning is designed not for the missing nine or the Samaritan, but for the consideration of Jesus’ disciples and curious onlookers.

This Samaritan is going to receive healing deeper than the physical healing.
All the ten received physical healing but only a Samaritan received spiritual healing along with the physical healing.
Because only the Samaritan returned to Jesus to thank Him personally.
It is the beginning of a personal relationship with Jesus.
And Jesus’ question asking, where are the other nine Jews, is a proclamation of salvation to all who return to Him, whether they are Jew or gentile.
Ten lepers received physical healing, but nine were not ready to meet Jesus for a personal relationship.
Thus goes the salvation to the gentiles.

Faith alone

And how the tenth leper received salvation? Through faith and faith alone.
Let us go through the process once again to learn how faith brought the miracle in them.

First, all of them had a huge faith in God.
The lepers, as they saw Jesus passing by, cried for His mercy towards them.
Jesus told the men to show themselves to a priest while they still had leprosy.
In faith they moved forward to go to the priest and they went that they were cured.
That meant believing against the evidence and trusting God even when they didn't really have grounds to do so.
When Jesus said: “Go, show yourselves to the priests”, the evidence proved that they were still lepers.
But as they went, the evidence changed.
That's almost a definition of faith – trusting in what we cannot prove by evidences.
Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen".

If we want everything plain and clear before we take a step of faith, it's not really faith.
Faith is trust, even when we don't understand and even when the evidence is against us.
It's trust that God will make it right.
In the story, only one of the ten comes back to thank Jesus. But all of them had a huge faith in God.

Second, the one who comes back is a Samaritan.
Samaritans were hereditary enemies of Jews, for various reasons.
So why was he the one to come back, rather than the Jews?
Perhaps it was because he had a deeper sense of what had been done for him.

If a Jewish miracle-worker healed Jews it was wonderful, but so he should.
For him to heal a Samaritan was going above and beyond the call of duty.
It was entirely unmerited grace and favor.
If you don't believe you deserve to be saved and God saves you anyway, you will be deeply, deeply grateful.
But this story reminds us that it's those who are most conscious of what's been done for them that are closest to the heart of God.

Luke 12: 48 "… For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”  (NKJV)

Third, it speaks of God's grace to everyone.
The men's healing did not depend on them coming back to say thanks.
Jesus healed them anyway.
The healing of the other nine was not withdrawn because they didn't return.
God does lots of good things for everyone, whether they acknowledge it or not.
He makes the sun shine on the righteous and unrighteous and the rain fall on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5: 45).
There are many people who are not Christians, but who are still blessed.
At one level, Christians ought just to be the people who acknowledge what God's done for them, and turn back to say "Thank you."
There is a "common grace" God gives to everyone.
Whether we are Christians or not, we can take pleasure in beauty, in family, in creation and work, in love and in friendship.
These gifts are unconditional; they don't depend on us acknowledging God as our savior, though they may be enriched by accepting the salvation.


This tenth man was already healed of leprosy.
He came back to Jesus, fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.
But Jesus said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well”
Jesus is giving him a spiritual wholeness in addition to the physical healing he had received.
Physical healing must lead us to a spiritual healing.
Otherwise, sin, the root cause of sickness remains the same in us.

This incident is talking about the faithfulness of the tenth leper than the thankfulness.
Faithfulness is demonstrated in two ways.
The lepers asked for the mercy of Jesus, wishing a physical healing from Him.
All of them received the mercy from Jesus; but the Samaritan recognizes more about it.
Mercy has come from Jesus, and returning to thank Jesus is a form of faithfulness to the mercy of God that has been made manifest.
The Samaritan’s thankfulness for his physical healing shows evidence of deeper, spiritual healing, which is our true salvation.
It is here that the odd geographical phrase “between Samaria and Galilee” makes sense.

Jesus broke the boundary line between Samaria and Galilee.
Jesus is a Rabbi, who was not supposed to go to Samaria or not even by the way through Samaria.
A Rabbi is a holy person who is not supposed to go to the area where lepers live.
A Rabbi and a Jew, Jesus should take care not to defile himself with unholy people and unholy land.
But Jesus travelled between Samaria and Galilee, breaking the social and religious customs.
Because, He wanted to extend salvation to those who are outside the camp; to those who are unclean.

The line between who might be saved, leper or clean, Samaritan or Jew, have been breached.
The Samaritan’s return allows Jesus to demonstrate that no one, not a leper, nor a Samaritan, is beyond God’s mercy.
Anyone can experience God’s salvation.
Between Samaria and Galilee, there is only the kingdom of God, in which salvation is available to all who call out for mercy and respond to God’s call with thankfulness and praise.

Let me cut short this message. May God bless you all abundantly!

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