And it came to pass, as He went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when He saw them, He said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 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. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And He said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Luke 17:11-19 (KJV)
When I was younger I learned quickly that my parents were “always” right.
It took time for me to realize this. I was always stubborn and wanted to do things my way. But soon I learned that if I obeyed my parents, something good happened, but if I disobeyed them, it typically resulted in something not so great.
Now, of course, I later realized my parents aren’t perfect. But they are older than I am and have gone through many of the things I will, and through god-given wisdom, they were able to handle them. So, obeying them as they obey God leads me in the right direction.
I will never forget a particular time when if I had listened to my mom, I could have avoided some painful results.
While shopping with our mom, my brother and I decided to play tag in the parking lot of the shopping center. My mom told us to stop running, but I wanted to sprint to the car–the designated “safe zone”–and win. So I did.
I was running so fast that as I tried to stop myself, I skidded and fell, scraping my knee on the pavement. As I felt the stinging sensation of my fresh cut, I realized that if I had just listened to my mother, I would have prevented the pain. Over time, the wound healed, but it left a scar on my knee–perhaps a little reminder of my childhood stubbornness.
While this example of disobedience did not result in tremendous consequences, there are times when disobedience leaves life-altering “scars.”
God gives us specific instruction on how we ought to conduct ourselves. Just as my mom gave me a warning to stop running to avoid falling, God gives us instructions to avoid harming ourselves. We don’t see the accident up ahead, but He does.
Isaiah 55:8 says that God’s thoughts and ways are above our own. He is more knowledgeable than we will ever be, and so His plan will always be much better and wiser than ours.
Jesus’ miracles are the result of obedience.
When we obey God, we can receive His blessings and wholeness. Luke 17:11-19 illustrates this, as Jesus heals ten men who have leprosy.
Problem | the illness:
And it came to pass, as He went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: (Luke 17:11-12)
Leprosy is a severe bacterial infection that deteriorates the skin, causing wounds that often lead to the loss of body parts. Particularly in Biblical times, it was so infectious that it separated those who were affected from those who were not, shunning them from society.
When the lepers see Jesus, they stand “afar off” (v. 12), knowing their position in society–outcasts. They suffer the emotional pain of isolation, and they experience the physical pain of decaying flesh. These are men in need of a great healing.
Solution | the command:
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. (Luke 17:13-14a)
Before healing takes place, the lepers have faith. They go to Jesus, knowing who He is, and lift their voices to Him (v. 13). They know that Jesus is God and capable of healing them, and so they seek Him out and ask for a miracle.
Jesus immediately gives them a solution the moment he sees them. He instructs them to go to the priests.
Response | the obedience
And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, (Luke 17:14b-15)
Once Jesus gives them a solution, they listen and act upon it. Jesus could have healed them on the spot, but instead He gives them an instruction. Here is their opportunity to put their faith into action by obeying Him without question or hesitation. This obedience, based on their faith, allowed them to be cleansed.
Another response to note is that of one leper who returns to Jesus. The others depart, now healed, but this man shows his gratitude to Jesus. Although Jesus knows that the other nine men are not going to return to Him and thank Him, He still physically heals them.
This man’s faith set him apart from the others. He provides a model for us on faith and gratitude. Acknowledging his faith, Jesus tells him it is his faith that has made him whole (v. 19). This wholeness goes beyond physical healing–he received a spiritual healing due to his gratitude and obedience. He is now a new person, a whole man.
Afterwards, Jesus gives him a direction. He instructs him to go forward (v. 19). He can do so in faith with a new appreciation for who Jesus is and what he has done in his life.
Obedience is faith put into action.
What can we learn from this man?
- God recognizes our gratitude, which reflects the state of our hearts
- He gives us direction and renewal
- He rewards our faith
As demonstrated in this passage, Christ came to heal us from our pains–physical, emotional, and otherwise. But how are we to expect to receive from Him if we are not obeying His commands? Just as He gave the lepers instruction which set them on a new path, through His word, he is instructing us also to set us on a new path of healing and restoration.
Whatever length of time the lepers may have been suffering, they still sought Jesus out in faith. If you have been praying for a long time for physical, emotional, or spiritual healing, continue to seek the Lord. Turning away from Him leaves scars.
The man who returned to Christ shows us that healing can be physical and spiritual if we allow God to do the work. I encourage you to remain in faith. Christ is the one that can wipe us clean from our pasts and our pain and make us whole. In the process, He is working on our hearts, and He is looking at our responses–our obedience.
But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”