14 October 2007

Luke 17:11-19

"On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance they called out, saying 'Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!'" (v.11-13)


Luke's gospel is the only one in which the story of the ten lepers is found. Luke frequently highlights Jesus' concern for those who are 'outsiders'. The focus of the story becomes the one who was doubly an outsider, being both a leper and a Samaritan.

Realistic details of this passage:-

  • Lepers tended to live in groups; they avoided contact with non-lepers but they kept close enough to populated areas to receive charity.
  • Jesus' command that the lepers show themselves to the priests (v.14) was in accordance with the law of Moses (Leviticus 14:2-32).
  • The border between Galilee and Samaria is a fitting location for a story involving both Jews and a Samaritan (v.16). Samaritans were looked down on by Jews as being foreigners.

It is significant that the lepers were healed as they went to find a priest - they needed to trust Jesus, and find that healing occurred as they did what he told them to do.

We can understand this as a two-part story: verses 11-14 and 15-19. The first part is a healing story with the usual elements: a cry for help; Jesus' response; the healing. The second part is a story of the salvation of a foreigner. It is to the foreigner, a Samaritan, that Jesus says, "Your faith has made you well". The verb translated "made well" is the same word often translated as "to be saved".


To Ponder

Why do you think only one of the 10 lepers came back to thank Jesus after he was made clean?

What do we learn from the fact that one of those healed was a Samaritan - i.e. a foreigner?

What does this story tell us about attitudes to those who are different? Remember this is 'One World Week'.

Bible notes author

Revd Anne Brown

Revd Anne Brown is Chair of the Beds, Essex and Herts District. She has served as a Methodist minister in Lancashire and Yorkshire before becoming Chair of the former London North West District..