Hunkered Down Devotion

Luke 17:11-19 (Voice)
11 Jesus was still pressing toward Jerusalem, taking a road that went along the border between Samaria (considered undesirable territory) and Galilee. 12 On the outskirts of a border town along this road, He was greeted from a distance by a group of 10 people who were under quarantine because of an ugly and disgusting skin disease known as leprosy.
Lepers (shouting across the distance): 13 Jesus, Master, show mercy to us!
Jesus: 14 Go now and present yourselves to the priests for inspection of your disease.
They went, and before they reached the priests, their skin disease was healed, leaving no trace of the disease that scarred them and separated them from the community.
15 One of them, the instant he realized he had been healed, turned and ran back to Jesus, shouting praises to God. 16 He prostrated himself facedown at Jesus’ feet.
Leper: Thank You! Thank You!
Now this fellow happened to be, not a Jew, but a Samaritan.
Jesus: 17 Didn’t all ten receive the same healing this fellow did? Where are the other nine? 18 Was the only one who came back to give God praise an outsider? 19 (to the Samaritan man) Get up, and go your way. Your faith has made you healthy again.

This story is sort of confusing.  In the middle of a tale of a miraculous healing, we also have a bit of a mystery.  They story begins with ten lepers, so desperate to be healed and relieved from their distress that they were willing to disregard all of the norms and expectations of their culture and society and draw close to Jesus, just for the chance – just for the hope that he might be able to heal them.  

But at the same time, having experienced that healing, only one of these ten formerly disfigured and tortured people – seemingly the only one of a different cultural and religious background – had enough gratitude to even return to Jesus to even say thank you.  This doesn’t really seem to make any sense.  When we think about it, especially in those terms, it is enough to make us mad.  It begins to raise questions about what those ten lepers deserved.  It makes us wonder whether they should have been healed in the first place.

I want to make it clear that is exactly the wrong conclusion for us to draw from this passage.  We call ourselves Christians.  We aspire to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, and so it is to him that we should look for inspiration and guidance for how we should act.  He is our model and our guide.  

While it is true that he says to the Samaritan that returns in gratitude that ‘your faith has made you healthy again’.  This seems to provide an answer for this one man’s healing – at least partially, but it provides no insight into what brought about the healing of the other nine.  We might infer then, since they didn’t return in gratitude, however, that perhaps they lacked the Samaritan’s faith and so their healing must have come from somewhere else.  Jesus’, of course, is the source of that power.  

The point that I am making here is that Jesus doesn’t seem to have any regrets.  He celebrates the faith and gratitude of the faithful Samaritan, but at least to my understanding seems pleased to have been able to have used his gifts and abilities to bless those in need around him with healing and wholeness – whether they were ‘appropriately thankful’ and ‘deserving’ or not.  
He asks the question about where they are, but he doesn’t seem to worry to much about it.   Instead, Jesus seems to focus on using what he has to bless those in need, to share God’s love and to spread the good news. This is our call as well.

Sharing God’s Love,

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to follow in your footsteps, to become like you, to bring healing and wholeness, sharing your love and grace in all we do.  Amen.

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