Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Ten Lepers Healed During Jesus’ Final Trip to Jerusalem
JESUS frustrates the efforts of the Sanhedrin to kill him by leaving Jerusalem and traveling to the city of Ephraim, perhaps only 15 miles [24 km] or so northeast of Jerusalem. There he remains with his disciples, away from his enemies.
However, the time for the Passover of 33 C.E. is drawing near, and soon Jesus is on the move again. He travels through Samaria and up into Galilee. This is his last visit to this area prior to his death. While in Galilee, likely he and his disciples join others who are on their way to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. They take the route through the district of Perea, east of the Jordan River.
Early in the trip, while Jesus is entering a village either in Samaria or in Galilee, he is met by ten men who have leprosy. This terrible disease gradually eats away a person’s body parts—his fingers, his toes, his ears, his nose, and his lips. To safeguard others from being infected, God’s Law says regarding a leper: “He should cover over the mustache and call out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ All the days that the plague is in him he will be unclean. . . . He should dwell isolated.”
The ten lepers observe the Law’s restrictions for lepers and remain a long way off from Jesus. Yet, they cry out with loud voices: “Jesus, Instructor, have mercy on us!”
Seeing them in the distance, Jesus commands: “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” Jesus says this because God’s Law authorizes the priests to pronounce as cured lepers who have recovered from their illness. In this way such ones receive approval to live again with healthy people.
The ten lepers have confidence in Jesus’ miraculous powers. So they hurry off to see the priests, even though they have not yet been healed. While on the way, their faith in Jesus is rewarded. They begin to see and to feel their restored health!
Nine of the cleansed lepers continue on their way, but the other leper, a Samaritan, returns to look for Jesus. Why? Because he is so grateful for what has happened to him. He praises God with a loud voice, and when he finds Jesus, he falls at his feet, thanking him.
In reply Jesus says: “The ten were cleansed, were they not? Where, then, are the other nine? Were none found that turned back to give glory to God but this man of another nation?”
Then he tells the Samaritan: “Rise and be on your way; your faith has made you well.”
When we read about Jesus’ healing of the ten lepers, we should take to heart the lesson implied by his question: “Where, then, are the other nine?” The ingratitude that was manifested by the nine is a serious shortcoming. Will we, like the Samaritan, show ourselves grateful for the things we receive from God, including the certain promise of everlasting life in God’s righteous new world? John 11:54, 55; Luke 17:11-19; Leviticus 13:16, 17, 45, 46; Revelation 21:3, 4.
◆ How does Jesus frustrate efforts to kill him?
◆ Where does Jesus next travel, and what is his destination?
◆ Why do the lepers stand at a distance, and why does Jesus tell them to go to the priests?
◆ What lesson should we learn from this experience?
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