As the Gospel writer tells it, Jesus heads for Jerusalem by way of Samaria. When he enters an unnamed village, he is greeted by ten unnamed men who are afflicted with a loathsome physical disease and social curse (Luke 17:11-12).
Standing far from the crowd that fears their disfiguring contagion, the ten call out to Jesus for mercy.
The Teacher hears their plea and tells them to go and show themselves to the priests. (As required by Moses for a leper who wanted to be declared healed (Lev 14:1-32).
As they begin to make their way to the priest, all ten discover that they have been miraculously healed. They have received the mercy they asked of Jesus.
One of the ten turns back to thank Jesus and give praise to God. At this point he is identified as a Samaritan (despised by the Jewish people as an unworthy and unclean people of mixed Jewish and gentile ancestry).
As the man literally falls on his face at Jesus feet in thanksgiving, Jesus asks where the other nine are? The teacher doesn’t make an issue of the fact that the healed man apparently has not gone to the priest as Jesus said he should (or, are we to understand, that by returning to Jesus, the man is now actually doing just that?).
Jesus then makes a point of saying that “only this foreigner” has returned to give glory to God. He tells the man to stand up and that his faith has made him whole.
Then, as the Gospel writer tells it, the next thing Jesus hears is Jewish religious leaders who want to know when Jesus says the kingdom of God is coming….
What is the main point of this healing?
I came to this passage wondering if it would be an appropriate text to reflect on in this holiday week of Thanksgiving, and ended up with a far too long list of options.
i.e Is the main point of this healing that:
- Jesus is the Priest of priests?
- Pride causes a blindness that is worse than leprosy?
- Faith opens our eyes to the goodness of God?
- Gratefulness is itself the blessing of blessings?
- Those who have been given most are least likely to be thankful?
- Those who have been given least are most likely to be thankful?
- Those for whom we have the most contempt can put us to shame?
- It might be easier to find Jesus in Samaria than Jerusalem?
- The Messiah has come through the Jews for the good of all?
- If Jesus can make a leper clean, he can forgive the worst of our sins?
- While other religious leaders would continue to be an obstacle to faith (Luke 17:1-2;20), Jesus had come to offer mercy to those who would call out to him?
- A grateful heart, in the presence of Jesus is a sign of being truly blessed?
Or something else?
My guess is that the main point is that Jesus has come to do what a chosen nation has not been able to do: (bring blessing to all nations)… and that there are any number of important insights that follow…