(This is the third in a short series of posts taken from a hospital chapel message on Luke 17:11-19.)
We already talked about going away from people because of the skin disease. But there were different kinds. Some of them disappeared by themselves. Some of them destroyed the life of the person. So there was a process for deciding which kind this was.
The rule was that if evidence of disease disappeared, the person would go to the Jewish priest who would examine them and permit them back into community. Because the priest was responsible for the health – spiritual and physical – of the community.
These 10 men headed to town to find a priest. Which was an act of faith. Because you couldn’t go to the priest if you were sick. There was no point. So they went. And as they went, they were cleansed.
Again, we don’t know if it was sudden or slow. We don’t know if all ten were healed at the same time and speed or if it happened randomly. But as they were obeying, as they were doing what Jesus said, they were cleansed.
One of them came back , calling out to God. “Thank you God.” “Thank you Jesus.”
Now, technically, he wouldn’t have had the story of God exactly right. At least according to the people around Jesus. He was a Samaritan. His theology would have been fuzzy. But he praised God and he came back to Jesus and thanked him.
We don’t know how many of the rest were what religious connection. The text doesn’t tell us. We only know the identity of this one. And Jesus sends him on his way. Rise and go. Your faith has made you well. Back to his life. With an understanding that somehow, his faith was involved in his healing.
But which healing?
Remember I said that it wasn’t just his faith that healed his body? Because all 10 men were healed. What if the healing that Jesus is talking about is more than just physical? What if the healing is about forgiveness, about relationship with God and others?
Think about these men a couple years later. Someone asks, “Tell me about your sickness.”
-It just disappeared, one says.
-I followed the doctor’s directions.
-we hollered at a guy, Jesus, who told us to go to the priest. He didn’t touch us. He didn’t do anything. Man, we were lucky.
And then. That tenth man.
For the rest of his life, when he told the story, he said, “Thank God, Jesus healed me.”
And on his death bed, because physical healing doesn’t last forever, that man would have said, “I’m so glad I talked to Jesus that day.”