Sunday 10 October 2010

Bible Book:

"Then he said to him, 'Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well'." (v.19)

Luke 17:11-19 Sunday 10 October 2010


One of the many interesting features of Luke's Gospel is hisgeography. When he tells us very precisely where something happenedthere is always a good reason. So, "the region between Samaria andGalilee" is a clue that something significant is going on. NormallyGalilean Jews and Samaritan Jews would keep their distance fromeach other because of their ancient religious disputes (see here for some background) so the boundarybetween Samaria and Galilee was a religious one, as well as beingpolitical and geographical.

It was a slightly 'fuzzy' boundary though - a kind of no-man's-land- which was inhabited by those people who were welcome in neitherSamaria nor Galilee. Especially lepers, who were regarded by Jews,whether Galilean or Samaritan, as 'ceremonially unclean' (becauseof their bleeding sores - contact with blood was to be avoided atall costs) and they were forced to live as outcasts away from'clean' people. (You can read all about a range of unpleasant skindiseases in Leviticus 13.) So for Jesus to venture intothis region, and enter a leper colony, was extremely odd.

What happens next is fascinating. This particular leper colony wasmixed - Galileans and Samaritans thrown together as religious andsocial outcasts, united by their suffering. And they recognisedJesus as someone who could help them. Just being in the presence ofJesus was enough for them - they didn't dare get too close - andthey asked him to heal them so that they could return to theirhomes and families as 'clean' people. Jewish law required them tobe checked by a priest before this could happen, and Jesus simplysent them off and, as they obeyed him, they were "madeclean".

But the Samaritan who came back to Jesus to thank him was the onlyone to praise God for his healing (or 'salvation' - the same wordin Greek). And that, too, is highly significant.

To Ponder

Part of Luke's purpose in his Gospel was to showthat salvation was not restricted to the Jews. Why do you thinkthat religious people tend to draw boundaries beyond whichsalvation is not possible?

In Luke's Gospel, much of Jesus' ministry is 'onthe boundary'. Where are the boundaries for the Church's missiontoday?

How much do you think the healing of the tenlepers depended on Jesus, and how much on them? Was there anythingdifferent about the Samaritan's healing?

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