Jesus had traveled throughout the entire nation of Israel, from His early days in the north in Galilee to His proclamation in the south through Judea and Perea. The time had come for Him to take His final journey down to Jerusalem. He took the road between Galilee and Samaria, making His way south for the Passover Feast. There were many other Jews traveling that road for the same reason. As they walked, Jesus and His disciples joined in the great national pilgrimage.
How the people must have stopped and stared as Jesus and His band of disciples passed them by. How they must have whispered. Everyone had heard about how Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. Then He and His disciples disappeared. Now it seemed He would make an appearance at the Passover Feast, where all of His enemies were waiting to kill Him. Anticipation was growing throughout the nation as the word spread. What was going to happen? Surely this was going to be a Passover to remember.
Along the way, Jesus came upon a village. There were ten lepers standing at a distance. They had heard rumors that Jesus was coming, and they were waiting to meet the Man who had worked such magnificent miracles all over the Israel. When they saw Him, they cried out, “‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’”
As Jesus came closer to them, He simply said, “‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’” There was good reason for Jesus to say that. In the Old Testament, God said that anyone who had certain skin diseases had to move away from the community so that the disease wouldn’t spread to others. It was a profoundly wise, compassionate command. If at some point, that skin disease was healed, they could go show themselves to the priest. If the priest declared them clean, they could rejoin the rest of the people in normal, everyday life.
Think about what an amazing priest Lord Jesus was. He could do far more than declare that they were clean once it had already happened. He could make them clean while they were still infested with disease! He had power to undo all the terrible things that the Curse brought!
But for these men to rejoin their families and enter community life again, they needed the approval of an official priest. Jesus wasn’t just going to heal their disease, He was paving the way to heal their whole lives. They would be able to go back to their families! They would be able to hug and hold them! They would be able to work regular jobs! Their isolation and loneliness would be over!
When Jesus told the men to go to the priest, it was like a promise that healing was going to take place. They could trust that Jesus was going to answer their petition, though they didn’t know how! Somehow, by the time they got there, the priest would be able to declare them clean.
The men obeyed. It was truly an act of faith. Why go if they still had the disease? But as they walked to the priest, something marvelous began to happen. Their leprosy was healing! They kept walking, and it kept happening!
Imagine what it was like for the priests when ten lepers showed up, utterly healed. Imagine the confusion and awkwardness they faced as they declared that these men were made clean by the very Man their leaders were seeking to kill. They were declaring a miracle that only God could do.
When one of the men realized what was going on, he was filled with utter, exulting happiness. He went back to Jesus, shouting and declaring God’s goodness all the way. He wanted to tell the Lord thank you! It was far more important to him than anything the priest could say! Can you imagine what fun it would have been to watch this jubilant man rejoicing in the street?
When he got to Jesus, he fell on his face, right at the Lord’s feet. His life had been given back to him! He thanked Him and praised Him. What a great scene to behold! Can you imagine the smile on Jesus’ face?
Jesus looked down at the man, who was a Samaritan, and asked, “‘Were there not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was not one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’”
Now if you’ll remember, the Samaritans were considered outcasts by the Jewish people. The Jews would walk miles out of their way just to avoid going through a Samaritan town. They thought it was shameful to eat with them. Yet of the ten lepers, it was only the Samaritan who showed a grateful heart, the only one who sought to reconnect and give praise to the Giver of the gift. Jesus celebrated his childlike response of love and thankful praise! Jesus said to him, “‘Rise, and go; your faith has made you well.’”
Now, what in the world did that mean? Didn’t all ten lepers get healed? Well, yes. All ten were healed of leprosy. But this Samaritan showed a living faith in Jesus, the Person, that the others did not, and so his healing went far deeper than the outer disease on his skin. He had a healing in his heart. He belonged to God.
Humans can be broken in many ways. Some of us are broken in ways that everyone can tell…we might be blind or have poor hearing, or any number of outward struggles. More subtly, we may walk as if we bear a heavy load because we carry around a deeply wounded heart. We might also walk with our head held high in arrogance, which is perhaps the greatest form of brokenness because it is one of the hardest to bring to Jesus for change.
When we read the stories of Jesus’ amazing healing, we are reading about the heart of God entering into a broken world to set people free. We don’t have to have a physical problem to seek His help. In fact, as far as God is concern, the biggest problems of humanity are the ones we carry around inside. We are meant to relate to the stories of Jesus’ healings as those who are in continual need for that healing grace in our own lives. Just as Christ was magnetized with compassion towards those in need, He is magnetized by our faith when we come to Him with our sin, fear, and struggle and seek His help. He is able to heal us if we would simply come.
It can be hard to know exactly how to come to Christ, so here’s a prayer for anyone who wants a little help doing so:
Lord Jesus, I confess that I am broken and in need of your salvation and healing. Thank for for dying on the cross and making a way for me to receive Your grace. I confess that I am full of sinful brokenness and that I need Your help. By faith in You as the Son of the Living God, I ask for forgiveness for my sins. I believe in You and ask that You would work to transform me so that I become more and more like You. Here are some areas where I struggle, Lord. (List them to Jesus). Please forgive me. Please help me to understand Your will and give me strength to obey. Thank You that You are good and full of love for me, and that I can trust You to answer my prayers. In the name of Jesus, Amen.