“But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God” (Luke 17:15 CSB).
**(The following is a fictitious rendering of Luke 17:11-19–The Story of the Ten Lepers.)**
You’ve been banished from your community. Separated from family. You dwell among the dying. Simply put—you’re perishing.
But you’ve heard the news. There’s talk of a Healer, One who–
Casts out demons.
Raises the dead.
And, almost too good to be true, rumor has it, He’s soon to pass between Samaria and Galilee.
Thus, you and nine others devise a plan. It’ll take courage. Could possibly cost you your lives. But, weighing the risk, you determine that that which you might receive far outweighs the alternative.
After all, you’re each soon for the grave. At least there’s a glimmer of possibility for a fresh start. To be reunited with your wife and child—well, that’s all you need to bolster bravery.
With parts of you wrapped with dirty gauze, along with your desperate comrades, you prepare to leave the leper colony, knowing doing so breaks Levitical law.
And what is your plan? To cut the Healer off on the path, stop Him long enough to beg for mercy.
Still, you wonder–
Will He hear?
Will He heal?
And if He doesn’t, what then?
The time has come. Your putrid posse makes its way. To onlookers, it’s a scene like something from a contemporary horror film—a literal walking dead as you limp, drag, and hobble toward an unknown destiny.
Will it bring life? Death?
Nearing the path the Healer will walk, you stop. Then wait, watching.
Finally, after what feels like hours, you see Him—off in the distance, descending a hill. Similarly, He, too, has companions. Strapping men, like you once were.
The memory strikes, and determination surges. He simply must heal you. Oh, to not experience pain when…
While He’s yet many yards away, you find your voice and encourage the others to join in. You know just what to say. You’ve rehearsed it time and time again. On the count…
“Master, please! Have mercy on us!”
The message is carried on the wind, and the Healer stops for a moment, assessing the situation. With a quick twist of His head, He speaks something to those who follow, then points in your direction.
Having turned back, you see Him smile before cupping His hands. He then shouts–
“Go! Show yourselves to the priests.”
What? What was that? To show oneself to those in religious authority was to believe you were healed and then to have it proven.
He’d simply shouted, “Go!” No touch of His hand. Nothing more. Perhaps even He didn’t want to get too close. Maybe this was just some sort of mockery?
You stare at one another in disbelief, obvious confusion on disfigured faces. In your midst are men with missing noses, parts of cheeks, and some have lost an ear or two. No one, however, is blind. Each has eyes, and in them?
Yes, in the eyes of this band of brothers–these men you didn’t choose but, despite disparaging differences, were bound to by disease–you see something you’ve not seen before.
And you ask yourself–Do they recognize the same in mine?
A hint of hope.
Finally, distorted though they are–some partially hidden behind dirty bandages–faces are ravaged with… smiles!
Indeed, as hope penetrates hearts, whispering that healing’s possible. And what do you have to lose?
Without further hesitation, it’s a race–each turning to run, something none has attempted for quite some time.
For you, it’s been 1,721 days. How could you forget? You’d chased your then 5-year-old daughter through a daisy-dotted pasture, her giggles echoing in your memory.
It’s a song you’ve replayed a thousand times. Indeed, that was just prior to your departure.
Oh, you may be missing fingers, but you’d learned to count without them long ago. And boy, had you counted—every day since you’d been sent away.
How ever could it be? Your daughter would be nearly ten.
Does she… even remember?
With this disheartening thought, you, too, begin to run. But after only a dozen yards, you stop. Having traveled less than 450-feet, you already see clean skin on your arms where, just this morning, death had been–its foul stench never ceasing to turn your stomach.
You watch as the others continue, each growing smaller as he gains distance in pursuit of the priest. Will you ever see them again? Will you even recognize them if you do, so changed will each be, every face made whole?
And that’s when you realize. There’s only one face you long to look upon, aside from your wife’s and that of your daughter. Turning around, you find Him a bit further down the path.
He, too, has stopped, as if reading your thoughts, and those with Him as well. Each man watches as you make your way, freeing yourself of filthy rags as you walk toward them. Slowly at first, then…
Finally–face to face with the One who’d commanded, “Go!”–you fall at His feet, but not before crying out–
“Glory to Yahweh-Rapha! Praise the God who heals! Oh, thank you! Thank you!
Your cries of thanksgiving continue, though they’re muffled by the mound of earth in which your face is buried, your tears wetting the ground, creating salty mud.
In that moment, you recognize something more. It’s not just mere physical healing. As a Samaritan, you should have been overlooked. After all, the Healer is clearly of Jewish decent and would consider you His enemy.
People like Him too often make people like you feel as filthy as the ground upon which you’ve fallen, and the irony isn’t lost.
Not only did He cleanse you from leprosy, He would break the stigma of lineage–because, whether Jewish or a Samaritan, sin is sin. He’d come to cleanse you of yours. And in doing so, He would call you friend.
Suddenly, you hear Him, the sweet sound of His voice—not so much directed at you but, rather, to His followers. Never missing a teachable moment, He asks–
“Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the others? Except this foreigner, didn’t any return to give glory to God?”
When no one answers, you lift your eyes from the mire to find a hand extended. A perfect hand, without blemish, though weathered by work and from years.
Rising to your knees, you raise your right hand to take the Healer’s and discover all your fingers in place. Not one is missing.
“Get up and go your way. Your faith has saved you.”
In obedience, you stand. No more words are spoken. None are necessary. He knows.
The Healer knows.
And while the nine, too, received physical healing—will be deemed clean by the priest—you alone gaze into the eyes of your Savior, having expressed to Him your gratitude.
In return, not only are your fingers–your full health–restored, your faith is increased, and you will walk away clean.
Yes, you’ll walk away cleansed.
Once more, your eyes meet before you turn toward Samaria. First, you walk, then run–the song of a daughter’s laughter leading you home.
Though the health of the nine was restored, they missed the moment of looking into the eyes of their Healer.
May we not miss an opportunity to give Jesus the gift of our gratitude.
Go ahead–thank Him now!
Thank you, sweet Savior, for all You’ve done, are doing, and will do for us. We are forever grateful, and we love You.