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Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:17-19

‘He was a Samaritan.’

Only the most bigoted person would be able to grasp the full meaning of this simple phrase. To say the Jews hated the Samaritans would be far too soft of a statement. Self-respecting Jews would have nothing to do with Samaritans socially, religiously or in business transactions. People going from Galilee to Judea would do whatever they could to go around Samaria or travel through it very quickly.

The Samaritans had mutual feelings for the Jews. It was a hatred that went deep to the soul.

Funny how adversity can bring even the most hated enemies together though. As Jesus traveled the borderland of Galilee and Samaria he came to a village that must have been very close to the border. The group of lepers that approached him we most likely Jewish, except for one. Somehow, for whatever reason, the group of ‘walking dead’ had bonded. Now, as a last ditch effort, the group approached this Jewish teacher and begged to be healed.

There was absolutely no reason on earth that the Samaritan should be healed by Jesus. He was an outcast. He didn’t believe the same way as Jesus, in our society it might be best described by saying he was from a different denomination. Still, Jesus reached out to him.

It really should be no surprise that he would do that. He reached out to the Samaritan woman at the well. He reached out to the woman in Tyre. Jesus’ main ministry was to his Jewish brothers and sisters, but he wasn’t above reaching out to others.

He still does that today. We sit in our warm, comfy sanctuaries and thank God for all he’s given us, but do we really realize the extent of his reaching out? Do we fall to our knees as the Samaritan did and cling to him realizing the death sentence we lived under has been removed?

Ten men were healed of the terrible physical disease of leprosy that day. Ten men went home that night to restart life with loving family members. Ten men once again became members of a society that had branded them as outcasts. Only one went home with a healed soul.

We seek to heal our outsides in hopes that the healing will satisfy our soul. The tenth leper found that the only true healing comes from the inside out.

That’s why I’m thankful this morning. Like the leper, I was far from God. Things I’ve done had separated me from God and from others. Jesus never looks at what a person has done, he only looks as what he can do for that person and he freed me from the load of guilt, shame and embarrassment. All because he loves me.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I too fall on my knees before you in humble adoration and praise for all you have done for me. Others may still look down on me. Others may still criticize and doubt me, but you know my heart. Thank you for healing me. Amen.

He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:16

We all seek to be healed. In his book ‘Wild at Heart’ John Eldrege talks of ‘the Wound’ that each of us bears. The wound of our heart that comes from a variety of places and hurts in different ways. The question isn’t if we are wounded, because we all are. The question is how can we be healed?

The lepers in our story needed healing, that was obvious to anyone that dare venture near them. As the disease progressed fingers, toes and facial features were eaten away. The smell of rotting flesh was evident in the presence of leprosy.

The fact that one leper returned to thank Jesus isn’t particularly surprising. It’s the other nine neglecting to return that stands out.  There could be a plethora of reasons why the others didn’t return. Excitement of returning home; seeing the priests as the source of their healing and not Jesus; simple ingratitude; not being fully aware of the horrific condition they were in. We aren’t told the reason and you may have your own ideas.

The point remains, the lepers needed healing and only one realized the source of their healing and returned to give thanks.

There is another aspect to the story we must remember. Leprosy was not only a disease of the physical body, it was a symbol of sin in a persons life. That’s why the leper and his family were often under suspicion by the church. The leper had the distinct disadvantage of not being able to hide his sin. We, on the other hand can go to great lengths to hide the leprosy of our souls. We use relationships, addictive behavior, anger, religion and a variety of other activities to hide the disease within us. Some of those activities are noble social causes. Some are more personal in scope. None heal the pain that chews away at our hearts.

That’s why I’m thankful this season for Jesus. Like the returning leper, I’ve come to realize that he, and he alone is worth of my praise. I’m not healed yet. There are still vestiges of the disease lurking in the corners of my being. But because of him, the spiritual leprosy will not succeed.

Before the Samaritan leper took one more step towards the priests, home and a life of normalcy, he went back to Jesus to thank him for being healed. The rest of his life he would carry the scars of his leprosy, but along with it, the reminder that through Jesus ‘I AM CLEAN’!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you for your death, burial and resurrection. Because of what you have done for me I have been cleansed from the leprosy that wanted to destroy me. In you I am clean and for that I’m eternally grateful. Amen.

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August 2022
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