In Luke 17:11-19 Jesus healed ten lepers, which must have caused a few ripples, because nothing like the healing of ten lepers all at once had happened in the entire history of the Jews or Israel. But suddenly there they all were, knocking on the local village priest’s door, asking him to confirm their healing.
And what was that? There’s a Samaritan among the ten too? What was he doing there? Samaritans would never be seen dead or alive at a Jewish priest’s door. So that was two shocking things the Jewish priest got hit with all at once. And now he had to blow the dust off Leviticus 13 and 14 and meticulously apply the detailed instructions ten times over to make absolutely sure all ten of them were healed. And rattling away in his mind, perhaps, was the Jewish tradition that full blown leprosy, the kind that had isolated and brought those ten lepers together in their own commune of misery, was only a disease the Messiah could truly heal, and now here were ten of them. And who was it who’d healed them?
Oh, so that’s who it was. So what had Jesus actually done to heal them? Absolutely nothing, the lepers told him. After they’d begged Jesus to have pity on them, he’d simply told them to go to the local priest for conformation of their healing. And what was that the lepers were saying? They were saying Jesus hadn’t healed them before they left, but on the way to the priest’s house that’s when they’d been healed. And all ten of them at once too.
And then, of course, the priest had to confirm the healing of the Samaritan, which was yet another shock to his already blown fuses, because what Jewish rabbi would have any dealings whatsoever with those rebel Samaritans, and why on earth would he actually heal one of them too? So, were there any more shocks the healed lepers had for him, or was that it?
Because in those first few minutes of the lepers’ arrival, the priest’s mind had been lifted into a very different dimension. He’d probably had a quite normal day up to that point, a morning reading and singing a Psalm or two at the synagogue, and then – this.
What he did with it from that point on we don’t know, but we do know how one of the lepers reacted. After his healing was confirmed by the seriously shaken priest, he ran out the priest’s door and with a voice that sounded like he was shouting through a megaphone he yelled his thanks to God all the way back to Jesus, where he threw himself at Jesus’ feet thanking him over and over again. And well, well, well, wasn’t it the Samaritan too, the one person least likely to announce he’d been healed by a Jew.
So it’s one shock after another, but there’s one more shock to come too, in Jesus’ reaction to the Samaritan. Jesus looks down at this one lone man at his feet and asks, “Weren’t all ten of you cleansed? So where are the other nine? Did none of them think to thank God except this foreign chap?” And now comes the shock, because Jesus says to the Samaritan, “Rise up and go; your faith has made you well.”
Other translations use the word “whole” instead of “well,” because at its Greek root it means more than just the healing or “cleansing” of an immediate and single disease. It means “wholeness,” which is what Jesus had come for. He said so himself in John 10:10, that “I am come that they might have life, and that they may have it abundantly.” This is what he’d been sent by God to his fellow Jews for, and if they could only acknowledge that and turn to Jesus in total trust and obedience, this is what would open up to them. It went so much further than a physical healing. The windows would open to a very different dimension all together.
And here Jesus was offering it to a Samaritan, of all people. And why was that? Because the Samaritan DID acknowledge this was what God had sent Jesus to do – his heartfelt gratitude to God and throwing himself at Jesus’ feet being the proof of it. And to Jesus this was terrific, because he could say to the man, “Rise up and go,” or “Hey, you’ve really woken up to the secret of life, old chum, so go on, get up and experience what happens next, now that your trust in why God sent me has opened up the windows to all the other blessings he sent me to bring you.”
And shock upon shock, it didn’t matter if the man wasn’t a Jew. The abundant life was open to anyone. So wouldn’t we love to be able to say to any person today who obeyed and trusted Jesus with his desperate needs and came back full of gratitude to God for sending Jesus to do just that for him, that “Now, old chap, you’ve discovered the secret to abundant life that God sent his Son to open up to us. So, go on, go live your life, expecting many more extraordinary things to happen.”
“In other words, my friend, you’re being introduced to a very different dimension.”