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Praise God, I’m Healed!


In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 17, we read a story I’m sure most of us are familiar with. Jesus is making His way south from Galilee to Jerusalem for the last time. By now, people everywhere had heard countless stories of Jesus’ many miracles and without a doubt, those with incurable ailments and diseases paid the most attention. As He enters a village on the border between Galilee and Samaria, He sees ten lepers crying out to Him from a distance “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Leprosy was a highly contagious life-threatening skin disease that had plagued the region for centuries.

When He hears their cry, Jesus shouts back to them “Go show yourselves to the priests!” To have been noticed by Him and given an instruction to follow was all they could have hoped for, and besides, showing oneself to a priest was something a leper did to demonstrate he had been cured. No doubt these men felt a hope they had not felt in a very long time. They quickly started out toward Jerusalem for in order to see a priest, you had to go to the temple in Jerusalem. Unless you happen to be a Samaritan.

And it just so happens that one of these ten lepers was a Samaritan. The Samaritans were reviled by the Jews who would go to great lengths to avoid any contact with them. The descendants of Jews and foreigners, they were considered unclean, half-breed, heretics who had rejected the priesthood in Jerusalem and established their own priesthood on Mount Gerizim. I can’t imagine what terrifying and conflicting thoughts must have gripped this poor fellow as he and his companions headed south. Would he leave them to go to his temple at Gerizim while the other nine continued on to Jerusalem? Since Jesus himself was a Jew, did this instruction to see a priest mean that he had to see a Jewish priest? Would a Jewish priest even see him? Would he even be welcome in the city of Jerusalem? Definitely not. If he saw his priest on Gerizim, would that be enough or was he now doomed to be a leper forever? He wanted to obey. In fact, his very life depended on it. But what should he do?

However, the men had not made it far when they noticed their leprosy had disappeared! The nine who were confident in the knowledge of what they had to do, continued on their way. In fact, they were beginning to realize now, that one of their number was an undesirable. As lepers they were all brothers, each an outcast from his family and his people, crying out in unison “Have mercy on us!” Now that they had been healed, there was only one outcast in their midst. It would not go well for them to be seen in the company of a Samaritan in Jerusalem.

The Samaritan however, upon realizing he had just been healed of his disease, also experienced immediate relief from his inner conflict and anguish over what he was supposed to do. This even greater burden had also just been lifted off his shoulders. It’s one thing to live as a leper because that’s just your lot in life; it’s something else entirely to be stuck as a leper forever because you made the wrong choice, you went to the wrong priest. Overwhelmed with gratitude, the outcast comes running back to Jesus shouting “Praise God, I’m healed!”

Jesus, as he so often did, brings the point home with his questions, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Why does only this one outcast return to give glory to God?” It wasn’t the healing of their bodies through an act of obedience that moved them to respond in worship and gratitude, otherwise the other nine would have returned as well. It was the healing of a man who knew he couldn’t follow Jesus’ instruction that produced a veritable tidal wave of worship and thanksgiving.

I’ve studied the Bible for years and I still don’t understand many of Jesus’ instructions. Maybe a lot of you feel the same. Is it not the greatest miracle in the world that Jesus gives healing to all who ask him without requiring us to understand and follow His instructions? When I reflect on that, I experience a peace and comfort that can’t be found anywhere else. It is not even possible to hold back the shout from my heart, “Praise God, I’m healed!” As Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, it doesn’t matter whether one travels to worship at Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim. True worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth.

This entry was posted on Saturday, November 18th, 2017 at 11:51 am and is filed under Theology & Religion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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