Luke 17 tells us of a powerful encounter between Jesus and 10 lepers. Jesus was known for his pursuit of and compassion for those no one else wanted to help – the ones so broken, culture didn’t even know what to do with them. Lepers of that day were confined to their own colonies of sorts and, given the chance they were allowed to walk the streets, they were made to yell out loudly to those around them that an unclean person was in their midst. What a painful, isolating and humiliating life.
This chapter in Luke tells of Jesus travelling to Jerusalem and passing between Samaria and Galilee. Scripture says, “As He entered a village, 10 men with serious skin diseases met Him. They stood at a distance and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” The lepers knew who He was and were desperate for healing. Jesus had compassion for them. He said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And scripture says, “And while they were going, they were healed.” You have to imagine that after Jesus told them to go to the priests, they might have stretched their arms out looking at themselves, confused, and wondered why? The physical healing hadn’t taken place yet. But they started walking anyway. And with every step, the physical revelation of healing took place.
As the 10 were walking to show the priests they were clean, something that had to be done to be reinstated back into society, you can imagine they might have started running, scared to death the healing was going to disappear. But, even so, a Samaritan – a foreigner, an alien, an enemy of the Jews who they weren’t supposed to associate with much less touch – ran back to Jesus and fell at His feet, praising and thanking Him. He realized a deeper appreciation for what had been done for him that day. He was in awe of the Living God. The other 9 ran to the ones who had banished them, who had no control over their healing. But the Samaritan, he ran back to the One who knew him by name, who felt his hurt and longed to make him whole again. As the Samaritan bowed at Jesus’ feet, He said, “Were not 10 cleansed? Where are the nine? Didn’t any return to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He told the Samaritan, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has made you well.” Many scholars believe that even though all 10 lepers found healing that day, this Samaritan experienced redemption.
The Samaritan’s awe of Jesus made him return in faith. When we are in awe of God, when we realize the power He holds, our sin and wicked nature is even more apparent. It’s then we can experience the relentless joy and gratitude for the mercy He has showered on us.
May each of us know that in every situation, God longs for us to realize how big He really is and because of that, carry a confidence that He will work. No matter the cost or the way He answers, may we give Him the praise He is due.