Where are the Nine? (Luke 17:11-19)

Our text from the Bible this morning is Luke 17:11-19.  In this text we learn about an encounter Jesus had with ten lepers as He entered a village between Samaria and Galilee on His way to Jerusalem.  In this text we shall discover: 1) A Cry for Help, 2) A Command of Hope, and 3) A Confession of Healing.

A Cry for Help (vs. 11-13)

Jesus, Master! It is also important to note what they called Him: “Master”. They did not call Him “Lord” or “Messiah” or “Son of David”, they called Him “Master”. A more literal reading would be: “Jesus, respected teacher in Israel who works miracles, please have mercy on us.” They were not professing faith in Jesus as the Messiah, but professing faith in Jesus as a miracle worker. They were humbling themselves before someone more powerful.

Have Mercy on Us! These men, according to the Law of Moses (Lev. 13 & Num 5:2-3) were ceremonially unclean and must live in isolation outside the village/camp. They were to let the hair of their head hang loose, cover their upper lip and cry out ‘Unclean, Unclean’ if they were to meet someone (Lev 13:46). They were isolated primarily for the protection of others for what most likely was a contagious disease. This is why these ten lepers “stood at a distance” and shouted to Jesus. It is important to note that they did not cry out “Unclean, Unclean” but “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” They knew that Jesus was able to heal and no doubt had heard of the many miracles He had already performed. These ten men cried out for mercy because they recognized their dire situation and Jesus’ ability to help them.

A Command of Hope (vs. 14)

Show Yourselves to the Priests. Jesus heard their cry for mercy and granted it. He put their faith in His healing ability to the test by telling them to go show themselves to the priests before they are even healed. Consider for a moment that they were lepers when they cried out to Jesus for mercy, they were lepers when Jesus told them to “go and show yourselves to the priests”, and lepers when they began walking to the priests. It is “as they went they were cleansed.” When they began walking they were lepers, but as they went to the priests they became cleansed of their leprosy so that when they arrived the priest would inspect them (Leviticus 14:2-4) and declare them ceremonially clean and could enter back into society. In Luke 5:14, we learned that another reason for this is because Jesus wanted it to be “as a testimony to them.” Their healing would be a testimony of Jesus’ healing power and a sign that God is with Him.

A Confession of Healing (vs. 15-19)

Ten Believed Jesus could Physically Heal. All ten believed that Jesus could heal their leprosy and all took steps of obedience in order to be healed of their physical ailment.  They came to Jesus as the highly respected miracle worker and found a miracle for their physical condition.

One Believed Jesus could Spiritually Heal. All ten were cleansed of their leprosy, but “one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.” Jesus asked a very poignant and revealing question: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” Jesus laments that out of the ten only one returns to “give praise to God.” The fact that only the “foreigner” returned was noted by Jesus in His lament of the hardness among the Jews. Not only is Jesus being rejected by the Jewish leaders, but shows a contrast between how the Jewish people and Samaritans respond to Jesus’ grace and mercy.

Only One was Made Well. This Samaritan man, the only one to return and give thanks and praise is the only person to be told, “Rise and go your way, your faith has made you well.” What distinguishes the Samaritan from the other nine is that this man not only believed that Jesus could help him physically, but also spiritually. This man recognized that Jesus is sent from God, does the work of God, and is worthy of praise and worship.

Application

Jesus asked a very poignant and revealing question: “Where are the nine?” Nine of the ten lepers had faith in Jesus as a miracle worker, were cleansed of their leprosy, and left without giving thanks and praise to Jesus. These men were cleansed physically, but still spiritually sick. Only the Samaritan who returned was made well spiritually through his faith in Jesus. Let us pause to examine ourselves to see if we are one of the nine or the one who returned to Jesus.

  • Do you only come to Jesus when you have a problem?
  • When you find relief for your problem, do you praise Jesus or forget Him?
  • Is Jesus a genie in a bottle that you come to when you need something from Him?
  • Is Jesus, in your opinion and practice, nothing more than a highly respected miracle worker?
  • Is He a person that you try to stay on good terms with because you may need His help one day?
  • Is He nothing more than an insurance policy that you hope you never need?

If so, be careful because it appears that you are like the nine who called out for mercy in their time of physical need while ignoring Him when it comes time to find spiritual healing.  We should consider the actions of the Samaritan and in all things “give praise to God.”

(Illustrations from sermons4kids.com)