Monday, March 30, 2009

The Ten Lepers

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

“And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee” Luke 17:11. If Jesus stopped to teach; if there were gathered Pharisees, we are not told. But it might be rather unlikely to find a company of Pharisees in the midst of Samaria! Neither does our Lord present a parable at this time, though from chapters ten through sixteen we are given several: the parable of the good Samaritan, parable of the importunate friend, parable of the fatherhood, the lighted candle, the rich fool, of the second coming, the steward and his servants, parable of the leaven, of the ambitious guest, of the great supper, of the tower, of the king going to war, parable of the lost sheep, of the lost coin, of the lost son, of the unjust steward, of the rich man and Lazarus. . .

“And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off” vs.12. In fact they stood “afar off” from everybody. Notice, the scripture does not say that they were ten lepers. They were ten men who were lepers. Whether a man was rich or poor, illiterate or educated; all were subject to leprosy. So it is with sin: All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, [perhaps similar to a surgical mask?] and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: and he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be” Lev. 13:45,46. And where did the lepers encounter our Lord? Was it not without the camp? Where does the cursed leprous sinner encounter the Lord? Is it not also without the camp, the place where Jesus became sin for us; at the place called Calvary? There is hope for the vile leper/sinner. “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” Eph. 2:12. Yes, these lepers can identify with this scripture! The nine, apparently Jews, came to live in Samaria - they were alienated even from the nation of Israel! “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometime were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” Eph. 2:13.

“There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;

And sinners plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains.”


“And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” vs. 13. It is “their voices,” for every man stands individually responsible before God: the cry for mercy must come from his own lips, yea, from his own heart. “Tell someone about Jesus.” Certainly some one had announced the coming of Christ into the village; they had given glowing reports of His ability to heal men from their afflictions. But did they know that He would cleanse them, make them whole?

“And when he saw them” vs. 14a. Saw, eido, the ability to discern, to understand deeply. “For the word of God . . .is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” Heb. 4:12a,13. It is Christ who is the Word of God; He is the discerner; all creatures are manifest in His sight; all things are open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do! Anyone might see that these men were lepers; but only Jesus could look within their hearts and discern what was dwelling there! Only He can accurately diagnose the desperate needs of men at a glance and effectually treat them! “He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities” Heb. 4:15b.

“And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests” vs 14. As the ceremonial law was yet in force, Christ took care that it should be observed. According to the law it was the priests, who upon close examination, should give them a certification pronouncing them to be free from their disease. In this the Lawgiver would test them as to their obedience to His command. But mere obedience to the law will not save. The thought here for a Jew would be, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 10:25. Of the ten there is no indication of saving faith; else they should have immediately fallen before the feet of Christ in thanksgiving and adoration. But mercy was granted; they received healing. In this was opportunity given them to repent; to turn to the Savior. Were there nine Jews and one Samaritan? No matter! “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek [or Samaritan]: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him” Rom. 10:12. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” Acts 16:31. They would have Him as their physician, but not their Lord. Clearly, it was of little importance unto them who he was, but what of service He could perform in their behalf.

“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan” vs. 15,16. Jesus had said, “Go shew yourselves to the priests.” This fellow was a Samaritan. As the woman at the well declared unto Jesus; “the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” John 4:9. Can you imagine a Samaritan entering the presence of Jewish priests and saying, I am a leper - but I’ve been healed - and I want you to declare me as clean!

But this man turned back! Back? To what - or to whom? I can imagine the Holy Spirit addressing this man: “Where are you going?” “To show myself to the priest.” “You just left the Great High Priest! Return and show yourself to Him!” To the nine: “Ye also have seen me, and believe not” John 6:36. To the Samaritan: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” vs. 37. He turned back? He came first as the others; it was unto Jesus, Master. But in histurning back, Jesus became his Saviour and Lord. He is the Great Physician, who heals not only the flesh, but likewise spirit and soul! Notice carefully the wording of the scripture: “And with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His [God’s] feet, giving Him [God] thanks. Another proof that Jesus is Very God! Thanks be unto God for the quickening of the Spirit that brought us unto the knowledge of the Truth of the Gospel of Christ Jesus!

“And with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks.” Want to see a picture of worship? Watch this man! But let us do more than watch; let us enter into the picture with him - and do as he did!

“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” vs. 17. Was it not a rhetorical question? Jesus gives Himself the answer: “There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger” vs. 18. That the scripture identifies the returning leper as a Samaritan suggests that the other nine were not Samaritans: as suggested earlier they were most likely Jews who were alienated from their own country. It was the Samaritan who was the “stranger.” Therefore the nine must have been Jews. The nine were not “strangers” to the Lord. He was identifying Himself with them as His “brethren” the Jew! “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” John 1:11.

The nine had received all that they desired: to be made free from the leprosy; to have their health restored that they might walk again among the people of Jerusalem; to once again “be one of the crowd.” Shall we presume to think that they will now walk righteously; to “present their body a living sacrifice; holy, acceptable unto God?” No, “they are not found that returned to give glory to God.” How unusual for Jesus to make clean the outside, without making clean the heart! May we recall the healing of the impotent man, John 5:1-16; of the woman with the issue of blood, Mark 5: 25-34; the restoring of sight to two blind men, Matt. 9:27-31; restoring one deaf and dumb, Mark 7:31-37, etc.

How sore will be Divine Judgment upon the nine who would cry for mercy and yet, as it were, trample underfoot the precious blood of the Son of God.

“Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made the whole” vs. 19.

To the ten He had said, Go shew yourselves unto the priests; but unto this man He said, Arise, go thy way. As Great High Priest, Christ, who had made him whole, likewise certified him whole! He need not go to any other “priests” to be confirmed as clean (we know full well of others who go to their priests, (who are themselves sinners,) thinking that they will be absolved from their sins!) A “confessional booth” will never suffice. Sinner, approach the cross, beholding Him who died in your stead. It is unto you a Throne of Grace.

“Thy faith hath made thee whole.” And what does it mean, to be made whole? Briefly stated; Christ, (by means of His perfect work of redemption whereby He satisfied all the demands of Divine Righteousness by living a sinless life in our behalf; and having satisfied all the demands of Divine Justice by dying in our stead;) has secured for those who believe in Jesus Christ, the benefits of a perfect righteousness imputed to us by faith, having made us to stand Justified before God. It is a standing that no one can eradicate; not now, not ever. By Imputation our sin was charged to Christ’s account: He became our Surety; lawfully (and willingly) responsible for the debt of sin which we owed to a Holy God. In one simultaneous transaction, our debt was removed from us and laid upon Jesus, who paid in full the penalty for our transgressions; and the righteousness of Christ was accredited, was legally, lawfully, andjustly! placed, infused, branded, into our account. “For He [God] hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” II Cor. 5:21.

“Arise, go thy way” vs. 19. The “way” of the Samaritan was to wander aimlessly “without the camp.” But now is his citizenship in Heaven; and his “way” would be to follow “the Way, the Truth, the Life!” If the cleansed leper/sinner was acquainted with the Psalms, among his favorite verses there might be found: “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God” Psalm 40:1-3.

“Arise, go thy way.” In my imagination, the Samaritan who was made whole began a journey which led him down to Jericho. Along the way he saw a man which had “fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed leaving him half dead” Luke 10. The Samaritan, unlike the priest and Levite, “came to where he was,” and when he saw him, he had compassion on him. And went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” Could it be that this Samaritan journeyed continually up and down the road looking for others whom he might assist? And where, pray tell, did this Samaritan obtain such a Christ-like spirit? Was it perchance on the outskirts of a village, without the camp? Was it there that the Lord saw him, and coming to where he was, cleansed him of his leprosy and put within him a new heart? But such a thing is of our imagination and could not possibly happen - could it?

Are there yet other Samaritans - those who have been cleansed of their leprous spots; those who are willing to follow in the steps of Christ by passing through the Samaria of this world, looking for the destitute to whom they may show compassion, caring for them; leading them to the Great Physician who is able to cleanse them from their sin?

In whatsoever we share with another’s need -

Not that which we give, but what we share,

For the gift without the giver is bare;

Who bestows himself with his alms feeds three,

Himself, his hungering neighbor - and Me.

James Russell Lowell

“Thy faith hath made thee whole.” But faith is not an entity to itself. It is effectual only as it finds lodging in an object; specifically in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the all-powerful, all-sufficient Christ who is able to make one whole. Oh, but the benefits of a God-given faith! Through it we are escorted into the throne room of God; faith affords us sweet communion with the Saviour!

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and werepersuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” Heb. 11:13.

Are we strangers without the camp of the inhabitants of the earth? Yet we are more: we are pilgrims, having seen afar off, by faith, that Land for which we yearn, and are desiring to see the face of the Lamb of God who loved us and gave Himself for us!

“Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here we have no continual city, but we seek one to come” Heb. 13:13,14.

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