Ten Lepers In The Bible

One of the most important leper stories in the Bible can teach us a lot about being faithful. And if you think lepers aren’t important, the guy who wrote Luke did. He listed ten lepers in the Bible. So we’re going to talk about them. However, we must begin this scriptural tour with an important lesson on miracles that Jesus gave in Matthew 15.

A leper was excluded from Jewish society (biblical times). A leper was not allowed to live among the people other than to beg for food. They were not paid for their labor. Lepers had to separate themselves from society and live alone outside the city walls of Jerusalem in a designated “lepers colony” with their families, relatives, and priest appointed.

Throughout history, the Biblical figure of leprosy has been an obscure one, spoken about only in hushed voices. While this disease was very real in biblical times and in locations across the globe to modern day, it is still no stranger to literature. For many centuries, authors would utilize this disease as a literary device to represent sin.

In this post we will be looking at ten lepers in the Bible, what their stories are about, where they appear and who they were. We will also take a brief look at some of the lessons we can learn and take from these stories.

Ten Lepers In The Bible

When your parents remind you to say “please” and “thank you” they are helping you to understand thankfulness. Let’s say you receive a gift you really wanted for Christmas. You are probably very happy that you have received the gift. But being thankful takes it a step further: you’re not just happy that you HAVE the gift, you are filled with thankfulness to the giver as well. You think of all the giver had to do to make sure you could get the gift. They took the time to go shopping. They paid for it. They wrapped it in pretty paper. And because you are so amazed by the giver’s generosity and love, you freely show your thankfulness by giving them a big hug, or saying “thank you” over and over, or writing a note and sending it in the mail.

Today we are going to look at a story in Luke 17 about a time that Jesus gave an amazing gift to ten men. And while all ten of them may have been happy that they received a gift, only one of them chose to show their thankfulness to Jesus. Let’s read together in Luke 17:11-19.

Ten Lepers In The Bible

Luke 17:11–19 records an account of ten men who had infectious skin diseases, commonly translated as “leprosy.” In the Israelite community, when a person discovered a rash or skin disorder, he or she had to go to the priest for examination. The priest then determined whether this was a contagious disease and whether the person was to be declared ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 13:1). Jewish law prohibited anyone with such a disease from associating with the general community. They had to be isolated and many times lived as outcasts until they died (Leviticus 13:45–46). This was necessary in order to keep infectious diseases from becoming an epidemic. But, for those afflicted, it could be a life sentence.

Jesus had healed several individuals who had leprosy or some type of infectious skin disease (Luke 5:12–14; Mark 1:40–42; Matthew 8:2–3; 11:5). In Luke 17 ten men who were part of a leper colony approached Him together, but they remained at a distance, as per the law. They called out to Him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Without seeming to do anything to heal them, Jesus merely gave the instruction to go show themselves to the priest.

At the moment of Jesus’ instruction, the men were still lepers. No physical change had yet taken place. But, in faith, the men obeyed. As they began to walk to the priest, they were healed. Jesus always required faith on the part of the person who asked for healing. Many times He asked those who wanted to be healed, “Do you believe that I can do this?” (e.g., Matthew 9:28; Mark 9:20–24). He required a demonstration of faith on the part of the lepers in asking them to walk away, even before He had healed them.

The Bible does not record how far they had walked before being healed. However, only one man returned to thank Jesus for the healing. Luke makes special mention of the fact that the one who returned was a Samaritan, a person despised by the Jews (Luke 17:15). Jesus expressed disappointment that the other nine had not thought to give praise to God for their healing. From this we learn that God desires for us to express our thankfulness to Him for all He does in our lives.

Even though Jesus did not withhold healing from the nine who did not thank Him, He made a point of noting their lack of gratefulness (Luke 17:18). Because they had faith, all ten were physically healed. But Jesus’ final words to the grateful Samaritan imply that this man received spiritual healing in addition to the cleansing of his skin. After the man was already healed of leprosy, Jesus said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well” (verse 19). It could be that the man’s return to fall at Jesus’ feet gave him spiritual wholeness in addition to the physical wholeness he had received. When we take time to acknowledge the Giver and not just the gifts, we please the Lord as well as enjoy the spiritual healing that comes from gratefulness.

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