Luke 17:11-19 (NRSV)
Verse 11On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. Verse 12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, Verse 13they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" Verse 14When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. Verse 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. Verse 16He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Verse 17Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Verse 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Verse 19Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."
Scholars note that Jesus was taking a curious route to Jerusalem by going through a heated and perhaps unsafe border region between Samaria and Galilee.
When I was in high school, my youth group went on mission trips to Mexico. The most stressful part of the trip was the return border crossing into California. I felt vulnerable and powerless at the border. No matter how much travel I have done since then, I still feel anxious at customs and border crossings. The intensity and scrutiny of the guards and, often, their large guns unsettle me.
Jesus chose to walk right along perhaps the most fraught border of his day — between Israel and Samaria. Why did he do this? In fact, as in today's gospel reading, Jesus seems to regularly pop up in seemingly unpleasant places. He lingers in the places I would most quickly want to escape. This is still true today.
In what unexpected, unsettling, or even dangerous places do you see Jesus showing up?
Courageous God, you show up in dangerous and unexpected places, like borderlands, and on the cross. Assuage our fears and cling to those who are afraid. Amen.