Today's scripture focus passage: Luke 17:11-19
While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”This is a very popular, well-known story. It's the story of thoughtless thanklessness contrasted with humble gratitude. It's the story of a merciful God who desires FULL restoration for humanity. And though it's a real story, not one of Jesus' many parables, it reminds us of the sad reality that the majority of people are interested only in how knowing Christ can benefit them. Only a select few are really interested in worshipping Him. These ten lepers all believe in Jesus' abilities ~ they've obviously heard stories of His power to heal ~ but only one recognizes His deity and then worships Him appropriately.
But this is huge for other reasons, too. With this complete healing (which most likely included full regeneration of missing fingers and toes, the restoration of vocal cords and other internal organs, and even recovery of bone mass and marrow!), Jesus is not only once again demonstrating his incredible power over one of the most horrific diseases known to mankind, but He is forcing the religious leaders to come to terms with His deity while still clearly submitting to the Mosaic and Levitical Laws. In accordance with the Law, He sends the ten lepers to the priests for inspection.
In Israel at this time, sickness and disease ~ and especially leprosy ~ were considered direct punishment for sin. Obviously, all are a result of Adam and Eve's original rebellion, but we know that you don't necessarily get a disease as punishment for your sin. There are far too many healthy people walking around for that to be true! Nevertheless, it was believed among the Jews that, because God had used leprosy as direct punishment for disobedience, disbelief, pride, etc., in certain recorded occasions in their history (like Moses' sister, Miriam, and King Uzziah), that it was therefore always a direct punishment for the infected person's sin.
So we have ten lepers here, and we know they didn't just have one of the various skin conditions that also fall under the category of "leprosy." They had the real thing. We know this because they call to Jesus from a distance. They don't run up to Him, grasping at His arms to get His attention, they don't tug on His hemline... they have to yell for Him to notice them. They were outcasts of society, literally, because of the severity and highly contagious nature of their disease. They, themselves, likely believed their suffering was a result of their own wrongdoing.
But then Jesus comes along and heals them. God incarnate makes a very clear statement that whether or not they deserved punishment for their sin (and, of course, all mankind does), He is ending their exile and restoring them ~ to full health, to their homes, to their families, to their friends, to their livelihoods, to LIFE. He overturns what has been considered a divine curse! And because He sends them to the priests, who will quarantine and inspect these men a second time to confirm their healing, these men will be a constant, living testimony to God's mercy for those eight full days.
And while nine of the men run off to the priests and the temple to meet the requirements of the Law, one man recognizes Jesus as the Messiah, and worships Him without priestly assistance, without all the sacrifices and burnt offerings, but with a grateful, surrendered heart.
Mankind experiences the common grace of God. The sun rises on all humanity; the rains fall and water all the earth. All people can be ~ and are ~ blessed by God in a physical way on a daily basis. But we can either walk away, having gotten what we wanted or thought we deserved from God, or we can turn around and worship at the feet of the Messiah, surrendering our lives and offering ourselves as a living sacrifice of praise to a loving, merciful Master.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year reading: Titus 2; Proverbs 31; Jeremiah 13-14
Tomorrow's scripture focus passage: Luke 17:20-21