Leprosy was a dreaded disease in biblical times. Besides suffering physical disability and disfigurement, a person afflicted with leprosy was considered ritually unclean and was forbidden to come into contact with people who were healthy (Leviticus 13:45-46). Segregated from society, those suffering from leprosy lived on the outskirts of towns and begged for alms, relying on charity for their survival.
The ten whom Jesus healed in the gospel story were drawn together by their common affliction. Since Jews despised Samaritans as apostates—people who rejected the faith—the two groups usually avoided each other (2 Kings 17:24-41; Matthew 10:5; Luke 9:52-55; John 4:9). But in the desperation of their condition, these people ignored this customary animosity and shared a fellowship of suffering.
Conscious of their “uncleanness” and the risk of transmitting their contagious disease, the ten were careful not to approach Jesus too closely when they cried, “Master, have mercy on us” (Luke 17:13). The distance they kept, however, presented no barrier to Jesus’ compassion and power.
Jesus didn’t heal these people on the spot; instead, he commanded them to show themselves to the priests (Luke 17:14). Mosaic law stipulated that a cure of leprosy had to be certified by the priests…
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