11And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
- Focus on The Healer, not the healing
- Faith when sick is good, Faith when well is better
- Don’t just be healed, be Whole, be Healthy
In Scripture, Jesus frequently uses miracles as object lessons and here, in the Healing of the Ten Lepers, He teaches us the sometimes subtle differences between: submission and exploitation; faith and opportunism; wholeness and superficiality.
Ten lepers see Jesus passing by and plead to be healed. Jesus agrees and sends them (in accordance with Mosaic Law) to be examined by the priests. While on the way to the priests, they are healed. This is the crucial point in the story. Their responses to being healed reveal their attitudes and (spiritual) outcomes. Nine of them moved on with their lives; one returned to glorify and thank Jesus.
Jesus explained the importance of this point in verse 18, when He said: “There are not found… to give glory to God…”. The point Jesus was making is that the nine who kept going did not have the right attitude toward the miracle or towards God. When God works a miracle in our lives, the point of the miracle is to bring Glory to God: to reveal to the miracle receiver and those around him/her that God is in control of everything. And, therefore, He is to be worshipped; we must submit ourselves to Him.
…Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. ~Psalm 50:15
He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. ~ Psalm 107:20-22
On the contrary, nine of the ten lepers focused on themselves rather than on God. Hence, once they received their healing, Jesus was no longer needed; no longer relevant. For them Jesus was essentially a means to an end: Jesus was exploited to accomplish a goal.
By application, we must ask ourselves:
- “Is Jesus our Master or just a means to an end?”
- “Am I serving God for my gain or to glorify Him?”
- “Is my focus on my healing or The Healer”
When Jesus is for us a tool/appliance then BOTH the rewarding and the withholding of desired gifts/miracles/blessings will drive us away from Him. In John 6, Jesus feeds five thousand men, yet it is clear (John 6:15, 26-27) that that great miracle didn’t help them to understand Jesus’ ministry (Matthew 16:21-23). They wanted him to become their earthly King, they failed to understand the redemptive work of Jesus and that He was already King. The miracle did not draw them any closer to God.
Later in the chapter (John 6:28, 30-31), the people ask Jesus to prove himself to them again. This time Jesus refused to perform a miracle (John 6:29) and instead challenged their theology. And many deserted Him. The people were not drawn closer to God whether Jesus performed a miracle or not! To those who abandoned Him, Jesus was a means to an end. When He failed to deliver what they wanted, He became redundant, unnecessary.
On the other hand, as His disciples showed (John 6:66-69), we can only truly come to Jesus when we accept Him as Master. They didn’t understand Jesus’ theology any better than the people (John 14:1-11) and were often surprised by the miracles (John 6), but they remained because He was their Master, not a means to an end. They focused on who Jesus was not what He should do for them:
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. ~ John 6:67-69
When Jesus is our Master, we focus on how we can glorify Him, not on how He can satisfy us. This does not mean we don’t have legitimate needs, but it does mean that our relationship with Him does not depend on those needs being met. Neither does His importance/relevance begin or end when those needs are met (or not). Instead of celebrating the healing we celebrate the Healer (like the tenth leper did; verses 15-16). Instead of celebrating the blessing, we must celebrate the Blesser.
In His response to the tenth leper, vs. 19, Jesus next teaches us about faith: “…thy faith hath made thee whole.”
In other words, ONLY, the tenth leper had enough faith to be made whole; he was not just disease-free, but sin-free! Salvation had come to his life. He now had a new heart to go along with the new skin. Clearly, the other nine lepers also had a measure of faith; they had enough faith to be cured from their leprosy. As opportunists, they, like many of us, cried out eagerly to Jesus when they were in trouble. When the trouble passed, however, Jesus was quickly forgotten as they moved on to fresh opportunities.
But Jesus shows us that that kind of opportunistic faith was not enough for their salvation. Christians tend to believe that they need more faith in order to see/experience God’s miraculous power. However, Jesus turns that notion on its head. More faith is needed for salvation, than sanitation; and only the tenth leper had enough. It takes more faith to come to Jesus when there is nothing (earthly) at stake, than to go to the priests when everything is at stake. It takes more faith to submit to Jesus when all is well, than when our very lives are in danger. It takes more faith to give our lives to Jesus than to receive healing.
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. ~Matthew 9:2-6
Finally, Jesus makes a clear distinction between being healed and being whole/healthy. The tenth leper was the only one with enough faith for salvation and so he was not just healed, he was whole: he was healthy in body, soul and spirit. Nine of the lepers settled for being healthy in body only. Likewise, we frequently seek only material/physical miracles from God, often forgetting to seek out spiritual miracles. But His word frequently reminds us that the inner man is more important than the outer man:
But the LORD said… Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature… for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. ~ 1 Samuel 16:7
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
To accomplish the will of our Master, Jesus, we must be transformed inwardly. Being healed of leprosy in our flesh is of little consequence if we still have leprosy in our spirit. Will we cry out to Jesus for the healing of our spirit/mind as much as we cry out for the healing of our bodies and the healing of our finances? Ten went for sanitation. One returned with salvation. Ten lepers in a pew, which one are you?
- Is it more important for God to meet my need than for me to serve Him?
- When do I call out to God most? What kind of faith might I have?
- Is it good enough to be whole in God’s sight?