Flashback Episode — Risking His Healing: Luke 17:11-19

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As Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem and towards the crucifixion weekend, one of the miracles we read about stand out in my mind in a powerful way. This particular miracle stands out in my mind when we look closely at what one of those who was healed risks when he deviates from what he was instructed to do.

We can find this miracle in Luke’s gospel, chapter 17, and we will read it from the New American Standard Bible translation. Starting in verse 11, we read that:

11 While He [speaking of Jesus] 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.”

This passage is amazing in my mind, and it stands out to me because of what is said, and what is truly risked. The implication I often hear when this passage is shared is that the other nine cleansed lepers were not thankful to be healed because they didn’t return.

However, this makes no sense. All ten men had been outcasts of society and the fact that they ask for Jesus to be merciful to them tells us that they all wanted to be included back into society.

Instead, what we find is that all ten men believe Jesus’ promise to go show themselves to the priests, and all ten men set out towards Jerusalem and the temple. On the way, probably not very far into their journey, they realize that they have been healed.

It is at this point that each man faces a dilemma.

Each man was healed because he was obeying Jesus’ command to go show himself to the priests, but the trip to Jerusalem will take several days and there would be no telling where Jesus would be after they had seen the priests and have been declared clean or healed.

With the exception of the one man who returned, the other nine, who I am sure were incredibly grateful towards Jesus and God for their healing, resolved even harder to make it to the priests to confirm what they believed had already happened. Nothing would stop these nine from finishing their mission because a completed visit with a priest would solidify their status back into the community. The challenge comes with finding Jesus after their trip, which I doubt would be possible since Jesus was headed for the cross.

The exception to the group was the one former leper who decided to return to thank Jesus. By choosing to delay going to see the priest, this Samaritan actually risks losing out on being healed because he stopped the task Jesus asked him to do. Jesus applauds this foreigner’s faith in God and the risk he took to return to give thanks and tells him that his faith has made him well.

We can easily assume that the Samaritan who came back was able to catch up to his friends on their way to visit the priest to be declared clean, or that his trip was successful following returning to say thanks.

From this event, we can see several big themes that are worth applying into our lives.

The first theme is that while the Samaritan is singled out because he returned, the implication is that some in this group were Samaritans while others were Jews. With this miracle, Jesus demonstrates that God is willing to help and heal regardless of any racial tension. God doesn’t show racial favoritism with who He decides to help. This is important because most of us living today are neither Samaritan nor Jew, but we can trust that God still loves each of us and that Jesus was willing to die in our place as sinners.

The second big theme I see is that there is never a wrong time to stop and be grateful towards God for what He has done in our lives. While the Samaritan who came back risked losing his healing, the truth of the matter is that God honors our gratefulness, and He is happy to help us when we are grateful and willing to give Him the glory.

The third big theme in this passage is that sometimes we have to obey before we see God’s hand working in our lives. The leprous men had to start their journey to the priest before they received their healing, and in our own lives, we may need to step out in faith and obedience before seeing Jesus show up in our own lives.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Be sure to give God praise and thanks for everything He has blessed you with in your life. Intentionally choose to live a life of gratefulness towards God and those He has brought into your life.

Also, choose to grow closer to Him by praying and studying the Bible for yourself each and every day. Regular prayer and Bible study are the best ways to grow a personal relationship with God and to discover how to be obedient to His voice.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or outright reject where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year 4 – Episode 32: When ten men are healed of leprosy, one man risks losing this healing to return to give thanks to God and Jesus. Discover what we can learn about God from this event and some things we can apply in our own lives 2,000+ years later.

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