Noticing Lepers (04-04-22)
After Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain in the north of Israel, he set his face to go to Jerusalem, in the south, where he knew he would be arrested, tried and crucified. And yet, on that momentous journey, followed at times by crowds of people, he had time for the individual.
Bible Reading: Luke 17:11-19
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him, and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has healed you."
Jesus was travelling south along the border between Judea and Samaria where he encountered a group of ten lepers. Where once their identities would have been defined by their nationality, now it was defined by their illness. But then, when the one leper comes back to Jesus, he is no longer defined by his nationality or by his illness, he is defined by his faith and by his worship.
I wonder if sometimes, like the lepers, we define ourselves by our physical situation, whether it is our health or our background, when in fact as Christians we are defined by who we are in Christ; loved, called, accepted, forgiven, blessed with eternal life and inheritors with Christ in glory.
Ten lepers come to Jesus and cry out to him, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ All ten of them were cleansed, and yet only one returned to give thanks to God. Notice that the mercy of God is not dependent on the response of the individual.
I wonder whether there are times when we limit our acts of mercy to only those who we think deserve it or who will be grateful. If so, let us instead be like Jesus and show mercy wherever it is needed and let us leave the response to God.
I have always been intrigued by the way that Jesus doesn’t directly heal these ten lepers, instead he sends them to present themselves to the priests who were the arbiters of who was or wasn’t a leper and thus who was or wasn’t an outcast. It was as they went that they were cleansed.
Faith is often demonstrated by putting one foot in front of the other each morning and getting on with the things that we are called to do. It is then, in the going and in the simple obedience, that we see God at work. Let us not wait until everything is sorted before we act, let us rather act in faith so that things become sorted.
Lord Jesus, help me to walk in faith as a child of God, and, as you have shown your unlimited mercy to me,
help me to show unlimited mercy to everyone I meet today.
You have shown me favour unending.