11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.
12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance
13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”
14 When he saw them he said to them “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.
15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;
16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.
17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?
18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way, your faith has made you well” (ESV)
The ten lepers stood afar off because they were conscious of their leprosy and aware of what the law said concerning leprosy. They dared not approach those who were pure because of their impurity. This was the first step on their journey of healing. It is good if people are conscious of the state they are in before God and in the light of His holy word.
The lepers were humble in their approach to Jesus. They did not simply demand from Him. Some people enter God’s presence full of evil, they call themselves Christians with sin in their lives. Some have the audacity to demand things of God in spite of the fact that they have leprosy. Gossip, jealousy and pride are worse than leprosy.
They stood afar off because they sensed they were unclean. People are easily influenced by other spirits and strange fires but God will not allow people to draw close to Him with strange fires. It is a fool who thinks he is on the right road whereas he is not. Greater still are the fools who follow such a man and think that he is from above.
All ten lepers cried out, “Master have mercy on us.” They did not say that they should be healed or saved but they stood afar off and shouted. It is good if a person stands afar off but he should cry to the Lord from there. They addressed Jesus as ‘Master’. ‘Master’ in Greek means superintendent or the one who stands over them – over the sickness, above everything. “You are the One who is greater than the condition we find ourselves in.”
Don’t call on Christ if He is smaller than the problem you have. Some people serve a very small God. They question whether Christ can set them free. They doubt –of what use is it then to ask Him to help you? Jesus said that it was the man’s faith that made him whole. The man was sure that Christ could save him.
The lepers could not physically approach Jesus but they could pray and cry, “Master, You who are the master over this, have mercy.” Earnest prayer avails much. Superficial prayers do not mean much to God. Jesus tested their acknowledgement of Him as ‘master’ and commanded them to show themselves to the priests although they had not been healed. They had to be obedient to His command.
Jesus once said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, but you don’t do what I tell you?”
A person can experience God’s power, blessings and favours, through God’s way and His method. The lepers could have quarrelled with Jesus and said that they could not go to the priests while they were still sick. They could have said that they wanted healing first because they had heard about others who had been healed simply by touching the hem of His garment. The testimony of others can be a person’s downfall because one expects that God will do something in the same way He did it with others.
There were two blind men who were healed. When chatting together they found out that both were healed by Jesus and they shared their testimonies. One asked the other what he had to do. He said that Jesus had put his thumbs on his eyes. He responded by asking whether Jesus hadn’t spat on the ground and made mud and put it on his eyes and sent him to wash his eyes. He said no. They did not say to each other, “Sorry I cannot continue with you anymore because you tell a different story to mine.” People often like making laws, saying things must happen in certain ways. The result is the ‘mud church’ and the ‘thumb church’. This is the reason for so many different churches.
As they went in obedience to what Jesus had said, they were healed. If a person desires God’s healing or saving, it must be God’s way, not man’s way. If a person desires power – the fullness of the blessing of Christ – it is good but some will never get it because they want it their way. Some people want it so desperately that the devil comes in, which is the reason the devil enters so many movements, places and Christians.
When Peter had fished all night, Jesus said, “Launch out into the deep.” This command went against the grain. Peter said he had fished all night. Jesus told him to throw his net on the right side and when he did, he had an amazing catch. Through the night he fished out of himself but now he did something because Christ said he should – that made the difference.
As the lepers were ‘on their way’, they experienced God. As they were in the way of obedience or duty they were healed. When they were obedient, they were healed.
A person must do what God commands and then healing will take place.
One leper returned to thank. He could go no further when he realised he had been healed. He had to return to Jesus because He had become precious to him. The nine may have said that they had to proceed to the priest because Jesus had commanded them and not to do so would have been disobedience. The nine may have said to the Samaritan that he was going in the wrong direction but one can never go in the wrong direction if one goes to Christ. This situation was the sieve that sifted these ten men. One was right. Nine were wrong. In the story of the ten virgins, five were fools but in this incident, nine were fools. These nine men did not have Jesus as their aim but their aim was healing from the confinement of leprosy. To the Samaritan, the freedom from disease was not greater than his relationship with Jesus. The nine men experienced physical healing but the Samaritan began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Anything that does not bring a person to Jesus’ feet is worthless.
The Samaritan fell at Jesus’ feet and with a loud voice praised Him. He was not ashamed like people who are ashamed to confess Christ. He was driven and urged to praise Jesus. He could not do otherwise.
Christ asked where the other nine were. Where are we today? Are we there where Jesus wants us to be? The nine men were Jews who had grown up in the right environment, who had been taught and had a pure knowledge of God. They knew how to worship God. Jesus marvelled at the Samaritan, an outsider, an unbeliever – he was the person one would have least expected. It seems strange that such a person grasps the truth and people one expects to grasp hold of the truth, do not. There are times when a white person displays spiritual ignorance and does not understand what to a black person is quite clear.
A person may confess his sin like a child confesses in order to be saved from a hiding. True repentance is not running away from a hiding but meeting with God. The goal of confession is to reach God and meet with Him. The goal of the nine lepers was not Jesus but blessing. Does Jesus mean more than anything else to you?
God’s blessings are received in His way and by His methods. Some people have no assurance of salvation because of doubt. Some suffer from depression, some always ask but never receive – why? Why does this happen to some people? Why do they not get anywhere? Why don’t they get places with God? We receive Him through God’s way and by God’s methods.
For instance: Confession of sin. God is a covenant-keeping God. Every covenant has two sides – God’s side and man’s. God is faithful and just. He will be true to His part. Therefore as soon as we do our part, He will do His part. A person need not confess sin over and over again. If it is done properly, it is confessed once. God forgives and then one can thank God.
The ten lepers were healed because they did not go according to their feelings but were obedient to Jesus. This is why they experienced God’s power.
Abraham had been promised a son. He and his wife grew very old. Whatever he felt and saw in his getting older went against the promise but he did not build on his own body, but on the word of God. That was the secret to his success. A person should not build on feelings but on what God says in His word. Do not build on your imagination, build on what God says through His word. In this way a person will experience God. Such a person will be found at Jesus’ feet.
A person may say that he has asked the Lord to enter his life but He has not. Can that be true? Jesus knocks, you open, He comes in. He is not a liar, there is no lie in Him. If the door has been opened, thank Him that He has entered.
In conclusion, do not fear to say what God and the Bible says. What God says, He will do. Do not fear that what God says will not happen. One should see oneself as God sees one – in the light of His word. If you are a sinner, accept it and plead guilty. Do not justify yourself. Admit it. Call it what it is. Do not whitewash your sin. Admit that you must stand afar off because of the sin.
Recognise that Jesus is master. For whatever situation, His mercy suffices. Despite past failures, dare on His command, on His word to go forward in obedience. Do not forget the Samaritan who returned in apparent disobedience to what Jesus had said. It pleased Jesus. The nine who should have known better did it the wrong way. The ignorant heathen did the correct thing. We should not be found in the company of the nine men but kneeling at His feet with the Samaritan, in humility with our faces prostrate before the Lord.
Jesus must mean more than anything else. More than running ahead and being declared clean of leprosy. We should be at His feet and we will be there if we do what He tells us. May God grant that we will do the right thing as he says and in the right way – doing things God’s way.