11 While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee.
12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him;
13 and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
14 When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed.
15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice,
16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan.
17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they?
18 “Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?”
19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”
20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed;
21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
Jesus was traveling along the border between Galilee and Samaria.
- Galilee was Jewish;
- Samaritans, who were despised by the Jews, lived in Samaria.
- We don’t know exactly where they were — Jesus was near the border.
- This explains why a Samaritan was in the group of lepers.
Leprosy’s a terrible disease — a person’s skin begins to rot and fall off. Many lepers lose fingers and toes. It’s very painful and stinks. (pictures)
A person with leprosy is covered with ugly, pussy sores.
Leprosy was a common disease in Jesus’ time — there are parts of the world today where people have leprosy — India, China, Japan, parts of Africa, the West Indies and South America.
Leprosy’s very contagious. It’s easy to “catch” leprosy.
- Just touching someone with leprosy or touching something he’s touched could give the disease.
- Lepers had to live outside the community.
God instructed Israel:
Leviticus 13:46 (NASB) —“He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.
If Marty found she had leprosy, she couldn’t be in here with us, she’d have to leave the building and even leave Sun Valley!
She couldn’t hug me or our children or grandchildren, because they might get the disease. .
– Wouldn’t that be sad?!
Leprosy wasn’t just bad for a person’s body — it was terrible for them to enjoy friends and family — they had to live alone. (No Thanksgiving!)
Lepers got so lonely they’d find other lepers to live with. .
– That’s why these ten men were together. They all had leprosy, and weren‘t allowed to be a part of their family or community.
In some parts of the world today, groups of lepers live together in “leper colonies.”
Beth Moore wanted to visit a leper colony but couldn’t make herself go in because of the horrible sights and smell of rotting flesh.
People with leprosy had to stay away from well people and warn them not come near.
That’s why these ten lepers were standing at a distance, outside the city, and crying out to Jesus for mercy.
. – They called Jesus Master — they knew He was a healer and He could do.
. – They didn’t approach Jesus because of the crowd following Him.
God told Israel how to deal with leprosy (Lev. 13).
- Anyone diagnosed with leprosy had be examined by a priest. (Lev 13:2-3).
If the diagnosis was positive — Leviticus 13:45 (NASB) —“As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’
He’d remain unclean as long as he had the disease.
- He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp” ( 13:45-46).
The leper was considered utterly unclean — physically and spiritually.
Jews thought God used leprosy as punishment for a particular sin, and was far worse than any other disease — a mark of God’s anger.
Leprosy was an automatic death sentence — if you had leprosy you were doomed. . – Only 3 people were healed of leprosy in the O.T.: Moses (Exodus 4:6), . Miriam, and Naaman — they were cured by God.
Because people believed God inflicted leprosy for sins people with leprosy were despised and weren’t allowed to live in any community with their own people.
They were removed from society so they wouldn’t defile or infect anyone.
The Jewish Talmud instructed lepers to stay about 300 feet away from people.
They’d yell “Unclean! Unclean!” to keep people away.
Lepers lived in colonies with other lepers until they got better or died. This was the only way to stop the spread of leprosy.
Towel hanging on post – Isaiah 64:6
Sometimes relatives left food for them to find.
The Bible tells of another leper in Matthew 8:2-4 (NASB)
2 And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
3 Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
4 And Jesus *said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Notice Jesus touched him………….It was forbidden to touch a leper.
The lesson: sin defiles us in the sight of God, but through Christ, we can be healed of the plague of sin that separates us from God.
God hates sin; it’s repulsive to Him.
Sin keeps us from fellowship with God. . – God is Holy and detests all sin — sin will keep us out of His Holy Heaven………
But you can be saved from sin by Grace through faith in Christ (Eph. 2:8-9)
You can stand in God’s presence knowing you’re accepted into God’s Kingdom and praise Him for the Grace He gives to you.
Another lesson we learn from the leper in Matthew’s Gospel is just like that leper, we can confidently approach Jesus with all our sin and defilement. . – When we plead for cleansing and forgiveness, He’ll not turn us away.
He forgives our sins and never remembers them against us anymore — Psalm 103:12 — He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
Jesus came to save us from something worse than leprosy! . – We need to say thanks.
Jesus healed ten lepers, only one returned to thank Jesus! . – He got far more than just healing of his body. . – He experienced the salvation of his soul as well!
Jesus told them to show themselves to the priest.
As they turned to do that, the ten lepers noticed their leprosy was gone. They’d been healed!
Their skin changed from being full of sores and disease (show the cloth that is dirty, tattered & torn) to being clean and healthy (put that cloth down & hold up an identical, brand new clean piece.)
Only One Leper Showed Gratitude!
What happens next — Luke 17:15-19.
When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back. He praised God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. The man was a Samaritan.
When Jesus saw the Samaritan, He immediately wondered about the other nine men who had also been healed.
Jesus asked, “Weren’t all ten healed? Where are the other nine? Didn’t anyone else return and give praise to God except this outsider?”
- Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”
It’s hard to believe only one of the ten came back to thank Him.
- The other nine men knew they were healed, but they didn’t take the time to say, “Thank you.”
Probably when they saw they were healed, they ran home to their families and friends. After all, they’d been far away from them for some time.
Can you imagine their excitement? . – Think how happy their families were to see them again?
These nine other men were so, so happy to be healed, they didn’t return to Jesus to publicly GIVE THANKS. They didn’t “praise God with a loud voice and throw themselves at His feet” like the leper who did return to thank Jesus.
When Jesus gave His life for you and me, His Blood healed us from a disease much more hideous than leprosy.
- A disease only God can cure.
- A disease that will destroy our soul for Eternity……….
- Sin spoils everything? Sin spoils us too! Like a terrible disease, sin ruins us.
Sin is a great spiritual need that requires healing.
We seem to recognize physical needs better than spiritual needs. When we’re hungry, we eat. When sick, we go to the doctor. When we’re tired, we sleep.
Each of us are plagued with sins like hate, anger, greed, lying, and selfishness.
Just like leprosy destroys the physical body, these sins destroy our souls and need to be healed.
Jesus wants to heal them! He wants us to call to Him for help, just like the ten lepers called to Him for help.
And like the one leper who returned, we should worship, praise, and thank God at all times.
We can do this when we’re alone, but God also wants us to give thanks to Him publicly and with other believers.
The ten lepers in were given a great gift. The problem was, nine of them didn’t receive it with true thankfulness. . – Sure they were happy they’d received the gift of healing, but they didn’t . CHOOSE to thank the gift-giver.
- When Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine?” He was asking, “Why aren’t they giving thanks to God?”
He might ask us the same question: “Why aren’t these people giving Me thanks?”
Jesus has given us the free gift of Salvation. We didn’t have to do anything to earn it.
Even though sin deserves to be punished, Jesus took that punishment for us when He died on the cross. That’s the biggest, best gift you’ll ever receive!
The problem is, many people accept the free gift of forgiveness and never show their THANKFULNESS to Jesus.
God’s message is clear: we should have a heart filled to overflowing with thanksgiving to God, AND we should tell God and others how thankful we are!
God has done so much for us! He deserves our thanks!
Psalm 107:1-2 — Give thanks to the Lord, because He is good. His faithful love continues forever.
That’s what we who have been set free by the Lord should say.
Jesus was publicly crucified to heal our sins. We should take time to publicly thank Him for that amazing gift. We should live a life of thankfulness, just like the one leper who returned to give thanks to Jesus.
We should do what Colossians 2:7 tells us: “Grow strong in what you believe, just as you were taught. Be more thankful than ever before.”
This week is Thanksgiving. Do more than eat a big meal and watch football on TV.
BE THANKFUL TO GOD FOR HIS ABUNDANT MERCY!
by Bill Woods