As Jesus was heading to Jerusalem, he passed between the cities of Samaria and Galilee, a path that took him through a certain village where he came across ten leapers. These Samaritan men stood a far from the rest of the people as they had been cast off by the society because of their disease. As Jesus approached the men raised their voices and shouted to him, “Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus then waked towards them and told them to go and show themselves to the priests.
As the men walked off, they realized that their leprosy had healed and they were cleansed and therefore went off rejoicing. However, one of them on noticing that his leprosy was gone turned back while glorifying God and walked to where Jesus was standing. He then knelt before him and with his face on Jesus’ feet went ahead to thank him for the miracle. Jesus then asked how comes, out of ten men only one came back to thank him. He then asked the man to rise up and go his way and told him that his faith had made him whole.
Significance of leprosy
At the time that Jesus lived leprosy was a common disease among the people, and the repercussions of having the disease were devastating. It was not enough that the leapers has to lose their limbs, they were also excommunicated from the rest of the society since the disease was contagious.
They had to therefore, live outside the city away from the people where they begged for food and clothing. They were viewed as outcasts who had no place in society as men and the banishing of leapers was meant to make sure they die away from the rest of the society1. This was because there had not been even as single case of anyone who had recovered from the disease and the solution was death.
Significance of the priests
The priests at the time were identified as the most powerful religious figures and they had to approve of any miracles that were claimed to have happened. After their approval, the miracle would then be accepted by all the people, both the believers and the non-believers. By Jesus telling the leapers to walk forth and show themselves to the priests he wanted word on the healing of leapers which was a miracle to spread as this would then lead to the glorification of God.
This was if the priests approved of the healing as a miracle as Jesus had previously received some criticism from the priest especially after performing miracles on a Sabbath. He, however, knew that even though the priests did not approve of the healing as a miracle, word would still spread due to the nature of leprosy at the time as no one had ever been known to recover from the disease2. This was perhaps the reason behind the wild rejoicing that the leapers had.
Significance of the healing
The leapers on the other hand, were overwhelmed by the idea of not living with the disease ever again and were clearly overjoyed. They were also happy to be integrated back to the society as life outside the city was unbearable both physically and emotionally.
These people had friends as well as families that they loved before they became leapers and got shunned due to the fear that they would pass the disease on to others. They were happy to show everyone that they had been healed and reunite with their family and friends. Only one leaper thought, amid all the jubilation and happiness, of walking back to Jesus and thanking him.
There is also the identification of the universality that Jesus held as we are told that the leaper was a stranger. This suggests that Jesus did not know him and did not care much about acquaintances for him to perform miracles. This also suggests that the leapers did not know him in person though previous texts identify that his fame had traveled through the cities of Samaria and Galilee.
This therefore suggests that the leaper had to have been really touched by the kind act of Jesus to come back and thank him. It also suggests that the leaper recognized that he owed Jesus for healing him and therefore, the least he could do is get down on his knees and thank him3.
What we first identify is that the leapers were aware of whom Jesus was and they also had the idea that the healing was a miracle from God. This was perhaps the reason why they walked away glorifying God. The one leaper who came back to thank Jesus knew that Jesus being the son of God, was responsible for his healing and therefore decided to kneel in front of him and thank him. The leaper had an idea of who was responsible for his healing as well as who he had to thank.
The other nine leapers on the other hand, had no idea that they needed to thank Jesus. They obviously had no idea who was responsible for their healing and in this case did not bother to step back, as the one leaper did, and thank Jesus.
The recognition of responsibility in all cases has not always been universal as people find themselves unaware or openly ignorant of the person responsible for whatever they are experiencing. In this case, not much can be said to blame the nine leapers for not thanking Jesus as it might be believed that they were openly overwhelmed by their new found health4.
The essence of faith
The essence of faith as it has been used in this context recognizes the belief in something. This belief therefore, gives people an idea of whoever is responsible for the deeds that happen to us and around us. Though the other leapers knew about God, it may be assumed that they had no faith in Jesus and therefore were not bothered to thank him for their healing.
Faith is often driven by the belief in something and in instances like this, the out-most belief of a person often manifest themselves amidst all the overwhelming emotions. Whoever one turns to first in such a situation suggests that they have quite a lot of faith in that person. In this case, the leapers had a lot of faith in the people back at the city perhaps due to the belief that they would be accepted back into the society as well as praised since they were the first cases of leprosy ever being healed.
They probably knew that with their new found healing they would not only be accepted back into society, but they would also become famous and instant celebrities thereof. All this at the backdrop of their previously infamous status as the society had shunned them and viewed them as useless and a burden to their people. This is why they rushed into the city to show the people that they had been healed and forgot all about Jesus.
Faith often comes with the appreciation of whoever one has faith in. It is common for people to have faith in the wrong person or thing which may either be as a result of their lack of knowledge or out of sheer ignorance5. What sometimes may be referred to as the lack of faith may not necessarily mean that there is no shred of it thereof.
This is because different people choose to show their appreciation in different ways. It all, however, boils down to the giving of thanks for a good deed done, more like the classical approach to appreciation of something good that is done whether to you as a person or to someone else.
In this case, the one leaper was courteous enough to give thanks because he knew and had the faith inn him that Jesus was responsible for his healing6. He therefore went back and humbled himself before him and thanked him after which Jesus told him that his faith had made him full.
The context in which full has been used in this case, suggest that the other leapers, though they had been healed and were ready to be reintegrated back into society, still lacked something in them that was quite essential for them to lead full lives as human beings7. They lacked faith in Jesus and this is what mattered most in their lives.
Faith as it is used to express the fullness of human life indicates that an individual has to have a belief in his spiritual being that defines his spiritual life. This belief has to be in what the person holds dear as the source of his spiritual as well as physical nourishment. In this case, the one leaper believed and had faith that Jesus was the source of both his spiritual as well as his physical nourishment especially since he had been physically healed.
It is important to note that the nature of the lives that leapers led meant that they had not only been excluded from living with the rest of the people, but also had been sanctioned to never enter the temples. This meant that the leapers were both physically as well as spiritually disabled as they could not access any form of spiritual guidance from the priests or even participate in worship in the church.
Though Jesus had healed them and gotten rid of their physical disease, they were still spiritually handicapped and therefore not whole as human beings. The need to fulfill one’s spiritual being can only be done by having faith in God and in Jesus as his son. Miracles were often used by Jesus and his disciples to show how great God was by showing that he had power over nature.
This often led to the conversion of many people into Christianity as more people had faith in God and subsequently Jesus. The last leaper who came back to thank Jesus identified that due to the miracle that had just happened to him he needed to have faith in Jesus.
Faith has often been described as a belief in something. The belief in something requires that one has to have hope in something that is unknown or is uncertain. The faith that the leaper had in Jesus was manifested in his thanking of Jesus as he identified that he was responsible for his healing.
He did all this, despite the fact that he was still a stranger to Jesus and when they first summoned him to have mercy on them they thought that he was just another passer-by who would give them food or money. Believing in a stranger is often hard and thanking strangers even harder. One has to have a great amount of faith in someone for them to believe in them especially when it comes to believing that the person will heal him.
There had not been previous cases of people who had recovered from leprosy or even people who had been miraculously healed by someone. This suggests that the leaper who had faith in Jesus had a pretty strong belief in him as the healing was an uncertainty.
Though some may argue that it was the only option left since there was no other way the lepers could have recovered, it still remains that it takes real faith to identify an option that did not previously exist and have hope in it. Such was the situation in this case for this one leaper who had the courtesy to come back to Jesus and thank him.
The issue of faith is often misunderstood with hope in its original context. It, however, differs from hope since faith suggests that the strong belief continues even after one’s success. On the other hand, hope ends after the success of the act that one hopes for8. In this case, all the leapers had hope that one day they would get healed by they did not have faith in God and in Jesus that he would be responsible for the healing.
Hope doesn’t introduce a sense of responsibility as faith does. Faith ensures that a person cedes his or her life to the person he has faith in and gives that person the responsibility over their lives. The responsibility in this case should be in Jesus as every person should let Jesus be responsible for their lives and let him have control over the course that their life takes.
From this story we can try and speculate on what wholeness meant in regard to the other nine leapers who did not go back and thank Jesus. For some their lives could never be whole since living as an outcast changes their perception of life and other people’s perceptions of them.
Though some could have been happy to have been healed and went back to their families, their families could have rejected them claiming that they thought the leper was dead or claiming they had moved on in life for instance in the case of a wife who might have remarried. For others they might have walked off ready to be reintegrated back into society and work among the people, but the nature of being a beggar for so many years and not having to work would have made them lazy and therefore could not work and had to go back to begging.
Others would have felt special since there were probably more than ten leapers in the city and only ten were healed so some would have thought that they had to be really special for Jesus to choose them. This would have made them arrogant which would then lead the rest of the society to despise them and shun them which means that even if they were healed they would still be outcasts.
For some, the feeling that he was important would have probably overwhelmed them and it is safe to assume that they would have come across other leapers begging on the side walk as they headed to the temple to meet the priests, which would then have meant that in their pride and joy they would have ignored those begging leapers.
This would have been hypocritical considering the fact that they had just been begging like them a few minutes before. All these analogies portray a picture of individuals who even after they were healed, could never be whole since they lacked the integral part of humanity that allows one to live a humble, contented and successful life, which is gratitude through faith.
Significance of the number ten
The significance of this scripture is also symbolic as one asks themselves what could have been the significance of the number ten and why there weren’t nine or eleven leapers. This brings to mind the issue of the tithe as only one out of ten leapers came back to give thanks. One ten tenth or a tithe of the blessing given by Jesus was returned to him and more blessings were given.
This takes us back to the issue of giving tithes that suggests that out of all the income that one is blessed with one has to at least give back ten percent to God as a show of gratitude for being blessed and more blessings will follow. Though this may sound alarmingly close to what many preachers suggest of material wealth being given to those who give ten percent of their income to the church, this passage teaches of blessings and not material wealth.
Blessings in this case may come inform of health, love and acceptance into society. In this case, the ten percent does not have to be in monetary terms. This may be for instance ten percent of a person’s time to serve in the church or help others who are in need in society, or in case of a job where one gets to have a lot of contacts one may help others in the society who have no jobs by giving them at least ten percent of those contacts.
The tenth leaper did not have any money to give to Jesus as he was a leaper, so he sacrificed the only thing he had and gave praises and worshiped Him. He sacrificed his urge to jump up rejoicing and speed off into the city to show off his newly found health and humbled himself before God and worshiped Him.
An example in real life is where an individual has misplaced priorities that force him or her not to have faith in God and forget that their life is managed by God. This is often the case where one has stayed for long without a job and looses all hope and therefore turns to God and prays that he or she gets a job.
Then, out of the blue the person gets a lucrative offer and instead of thanking God the person finds himself bragging to society as well as their old comrades who had branded him or her a failure. This is often driven by the need for approval as well as recognition especially where the lack of a job had led the individual into losing his or her status in the society. In is not a secret that poor people are looked down upon and therefore people do not like to be regarded as poor.
This often drives the individual to spend their first salary buying expensive gifts to the people around them so that he or she can gain approval. What the individual usually forgets is that he or she got the job by the grace of God and they should recognize this by showing an appreciation for what God has done for them. People should first seek appreciation by God by worshipping Him first and sacrificing part of their blessings to Him9.
For the tenth leaper put God first as he returned to praise and worship before even showing himself to the priests as he had been instructed. This shows that wholeness and gratitude often complement each other. This means that one needs to have a generous and humble heart to receive wholeness.
One needs to make God number one in his or her life since to succeed one has to have God in their lives as all good things come from God. There can never be wholeness without gratitude or rather giving thanks to God and also there can never be gratitude without receiving wholeness.
Card, Michael. Luke: The Gospel of Amazement. New York: InterVarsity Press, 2011.
Charlesworth, James. Jesus and archaeology. New York: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2006.
Kelly, Maureen. Childrenżs Liturgy of the Word 2010-2011: A Weekly Resource. Boston: LiturgyTrainingPublications, 2010.
Koet, Bart. Dreams and scripture in Luke-Acts: collected essays. New York: Peeters Publishers, 2006.
Maria, Thi. The Lucan Journey: A Study of Luke 9:28-36 and Acts 1:6-11 as an Architectural Pair. New York: Peter Lang, 2010.
McDonald, Lee. Forgotten scriptures: the selection and rejection of early religious writings. New York: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.
Nicholes, Lou. Luke: The Perfect Man. London: Xulon Press, 2007.
Weissenrieder, Annette. Images of illness in the Gospel of Luke: insights of ancient medical texts. London: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.
1 Thi Maria. The Lucan Journey: A Study of Luke 9:28-36 and Acts 1:6-11 as an Architectural Pair. (New York: Peter Lang, 2010). 61.
2 Lou Nicholes. Luke: The Perfect Man. (London: Xulon Press, 2007). 127.
3 Bart Koet. Dreams and scripture in Luke-Acts: collected essays. (New York: Peeters Publishers, 2006). 73.
4 Lee McDonald. Forgotten scriptures: the selection and rejection of early religious writings. (New York: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009). 239.
5 Annette Weissenrieder. Images of illness in the Gospel of Luke: insights of ancient medical texts. (London: Mohr Siebeck, 2003). 28.
6 Maureen Kelly. Childrenżs Liturgy of the Word 2010-2011: A Weekly Resource. (Boston: LiturgyTrainingPublications, 2010). 94.
7 James Charlesworth . Jesus and archaeology. (New York: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2006). 72.
8 Bart Koet. Dreams and scripture in Luke-Acts: collected essays. (New York: Peeters Publishers, 2006). 45.
9 Michael Card. Luke: The Gospel of Amazement. (New York: InterVarsity Press, 2011). 32.