The Gospel of Luke

This devotional is written by Phil Hoyle.

Luke 17:11-19

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[a] 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."

Reflection

This passage resonates at the moment, doesn't it?! Writing this during the Covid-19 lockdown, I appreciate the social distancing that the ten men and Jesus observe here: Standing at a distance and calling to each other in loud voices? Top marks!

In actual fact, whilst observing social distancing in one sense, this passage is actually all about healing social distance.

Firstly, the ten men weren't just at a distance because of their infection. Their condition also made them ritually unclean according to the law. This is why Jesus tells the men to go and have the healing confirmed by priests (as was instructed in Leviticus 14) - Being certified healed by a priest meant that they would also be restored to their communities, and be able to take part in worship again. Jesus removes not only their sickness, but also the stigma associated with that sickness.

What's more - Jesus' healing of the men doesn't only occur at a physical distance (an encouragement to us that Jesus can always be with us - whether socially distancing or not!) But also crosses a deeper social divide:

Of the ten men that are healed, one is a Samaritan. The Samaritans were a group of people who claimed to be the true followers of Yahweh, as opposed to the Jews. This disagreement had existed since the times of the Babylonian exile (recounted in the Old Testament), so the hatred between the two groups had lasted centuries.

Here, a Samaritan is praised for his faith, above and beyond the faith of the nine men who were healed but didn't return to thank Jesus.

In this one miracle, Jesus shows that his healing power restores physical health, social acceptance, and reaches across a centuries old animosity. Not a bad achievement whilst also observing appropriate social distancing!

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