Lent 26 (2012)–The Samaritan’s Conundrum

Luke 17:11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him– and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

The Songs of Ascents were the pilgrim songs for those traveling Up to Jerusalem.  Jesus was traveling along the border between Samaria and Galilee where normally He could Expect Opposition.

Typically Jews and Samaritans would have kept separate, but common adversity creates strange fellowship.  Outside of the village, ten men with leprosy all Cry Out, “Have Mercy!” 

Jesus hears their cry, sees them, and tells them to “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”  This would have meant something slightly different to the Jews and to the Samaritans.  For the Jews, showing themselves to the priests would mean they had been cleansed, so they anticipated healing and went. 

The Jews present would have viewed the Samaritan as doubly unworthy, first because he was a Samaritan, and second because he had leprosy.  Leprosy could be cured, one’s ethnicity couldn’t be. 

To which priest would (or could) the Samaritan go, given that he’d still be considered unclean even if he’d been physically healed?  It would have been a logical conundrum: do you go to a Jewish priest as their law required, knowing you might be rejected?  Or do you show yourself to a Samaritan priest?  Does that count, after all, Jesus—a Jew—said priests (plural)? 

One thing became clear:   Jesus made him clean.

 So he returns,  praising God!

Either way, his perspective showed he knew the right answer.  Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow!  The other nine were content following religious procedures.  This Samaritan—blessed with leprosy in order to be physically healed by Jesus—receives a further and more significant blessing: saving faith and eternal spiritual healing.  “Your faith has made you well,” Jesus says. 

For further thought:

  1. Jesus reached out to those on the fringes.  Are there people with whom you hesitate to share the Gospel, perhaps out of cultural differences?
  2. In what ways was the Samaritan in our story blessed far more than the other nine lepers?
  3. In Hebrews 4:14 it reads, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.”  Is there a way in which the Samaritan came before a priest to be pronounced clean?

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 22, 2012

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