Luke 17 v 11 – 12
“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance..”
Luke tells us that this event took place “along the border between Samaria and Galilee.” Now the Galileans were Israelites but the Samaritans were considered aliens. Here is a first hint of the deep separation between the Jews and their non-Jewish neighbours. I have said before, it is hard for us today to understand the aversion the people of Jesus day had for anybody else who was considered “unclean”.
All the ethnic battles we witness today between the various nations bear terrible testimony to the deep hatred that still remains in that part of the world between different clans, tribes, language groups and traditions. Indeed legalistic religion is a terrible thing.
The next indication of “distance” a separation comes to us in v 12. These ten men with leprosy met Jesus. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice. Why? Because lepers were not allowed near healthy people. So across the distance they called for pity. Notice that Jesus keeps his distance and simply heals them with a word and tells them to show their healing to their priest, who would affirm it or otherwise. It is only as they went that they saw they were cleansed. But the further they went in this joy and excitement, to the priest, the more the distance between Christ and them increased.
It seems clear that Jesus was expecting them all to return to him to give thanks and glory to God. But there is only one leper who felt so grateful that he returned and threw himself at his feet and thanked him. It wasn’t that Christ was merely looking for a “thank you.” He was looking for something much deeper – an acknowledgement of God in a way that would save them.
Do you need to think about this? There are many people who are genuinely thankful for the blessings they have in life. But they mistakenly assumed that because they have been blessed with good health, long marriages, great grandchildren in addition and daily comforts, that that in itself equates salvation.
It does not! The goodness of God is meant to lead us to repentance.
No repentance, no heaven. There all the earthly blessings are left behind.
But there was one of these 10 leprous men who did some thinking as he walked away from Jesus.