The ten lepers meet the Lord in the land between religiously unclean
Samaria and racially
unclean Galilee of the Gentiles. They are nine
Jews and one Samaritan bound together by their disease for in leprosy there is
neither Jew nor Samaritan for all are equally unclean. Keeping the required
distance they cry out for mercy. Jesus does not disappoint, though “Go and show
yourselves to the priests” must have seemed premature as they are not healed
until they turn and do as they are told. The one who turns back is the hero, of
course, the dirty foreigner more clean than the nine Jewish ex lepers and Jesus
makes a point of it but not just as a reminder to be thankful and praise God.
It has more to do with a plea for mercy when living lost in the land between.
The faith that restored the one restored the nine as well because the cry for
mercy from Jesus the master was the act of faith and the turning to go and show
was obedience even before healing happened. But the turning back one knows it
and the nine do not. The benefit in knowing is that even when skin is clean and
health restored one can still live lost in the land between. So faith to be
made well is not about skin condition but about the condition of one’s soul
which is well when the mercy of God is recognized and praised. And when the
soul is well the whole body is clean.