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."
As was the case with Naaman’s healing and conversion experience in 2 Kings, it is a Samaritan leper in today’s reading from Luke who is both healed and blessed with salvation. Ten lepers were cleansed of their leprosy, but only one, a non-Israelite, returned to Jesus—to give thanks and in so doing to experience a more whole salvation.
What did the nine fail to see in Jesus that the Samaritan recognized? Was this one considered a religious heretic the only one who truly understood God to be incarnate in Jesus? Was Luke attempting to draw attention to a growing complacency among Israelites and a growing hunger among Gentiles? What does it all mean for the Christian church today? Perhaps we should all be praying for eyes to see and ears to hear.
Thank you, Jesus, for healing and for salvation. May our eyes and ears always be open to your mercy, power, and grace. Amen.