Sunday, November 20

The Tenth Leper

Luke 17
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And 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.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

What does it mean to be "made whole," and how is it different from being cleansed? Is it just the spiritual equivalent of being cleansed? It required considerable faith for the ten lepers to be healed of leprosy... does that mean that being made whole requires even greater faith? And how does this apply to my life?

If Christ came to me today, and offered to take away all of my physical trials, I'd be like one of the ten lepers - calling to Him from afar off and asking for His intervention on my behalf. If He healed me, I'm sure I'd be grateful, as the other 9 lepers most definitely were. What made the tenth leper so different? Was it just that He returned to give thanks? Is gratitude such a big part of repentance that our becoming whole is contingent on our ability to give thanks and give the glory to God? And if the true meaning of the parable is the importance of being whole - not simply cleansed - what does that mean to me?

Those are the questions going through my mind as I read this account. I think Christ was trying to illustrate the importance of striving to become whole - spiritually whole - instead of simply asking for relief from the difficulties of life... focusing on the spiritual aspects of imperfection in mortality. And I think that here He shares an interesting message - how key gratitude is in being saved. Being "whole" is often similar in root to being "perfect" - complete, unspotted, righteous in every way. The woman with an issue of blood was declared whole after she put her faith in Christ, as was the tenth leper, and the man who received his sight. All of them did something more than just have the faith to receive physical miracles in their behalf; they had the faith to receive unseen spiritual miracles that far surpassed what could be seen on the surface.

I think that's the miracle that I should always be praying for - not to be freed from trials or tribulations, but the miracle of being able to live and keep the commandments in any situation. Being willing to date, and learning to enjoy it, even though I'm not attracted to women. Coping with attraction to guys and finding ways to ensure the positive side of interactions with them. And being willing to live life and keep moving forward no matter what happens - even if I spend the rest of life alone - and learning to be happy in those circumstances.

I used to think that happiness came as a byproduct of completing a given set of to-do's, among which were finding an eternal companion, having a family, etc... Now I realize that happiness isn't something that comes at the end of mortality or even after I have weathered my trials. It is available today, and tomorrow, and the next day. And I don't have to downgrade my morals to find it. It's available through God.

I obviously can't really talk about what went through their minds without it being conjecture, but I think that's what made the tenth leper different. I think that, if he hadn't been healed, he would have continued to believe in Christ and praise God - and maybe that is what made the difference. He had already found happiness in doing what was right within his ability, and the outward miracle of healing was just that - an outward manifestation to match a greater inward change... and Christ's miracle was an opportunity to invite me, and all those present, to exercise the same faith to be made whole.


  1. I never looked at it like that. The story always bothered me. I mean here are 10 men, away from their families, unable to support them, shunned from society and on the verge of death! A miracle occurred and they are ecstatic! I can't even imagine the happiness that filled them! They want to go see their families, to be normal again. Why give them a hard time? I'm sure after the initial excitement wore off they would be so thankful for who did it. They would always be grateful, but in the moment they were thinking about them. And who was it that thought about the giver- A Samaritan- one who had been shunned before leprosy had come upon him. It must of been a double blow- an insult to injury, so he really knew the miracle, especially if he kept the faith the whole time as did Job, when 2 threats from society had encompassed his life. Even the very elect may waver at that! For him it was a spiritual healing- perhaps because things had been doubly difficult for him and he kept up hope that maybe, just maybe he could be healed, and when it was he he knew if faith had been rewarded, his testimony strengthened, God did care about him personally, everything he believed was true. No wonder he fell down on his face! His faith was not in vain! When thought of like that- much deeper than saying thank you- it means so much more! Thank you for your insight, that lead me to mine!

  2. I really liked this perspective on gratitude. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Absolutely beautiful post. Thank you!

  4. I have wondered if when Christ tells the 10 to go to the priest to be cleansed, if they took that as a rejection. He wasn't willing or able to cure them. Then sometime on the way, (maybe even almost there), they are cleansed. They are super happy, but who healed them? The priest? (who is a religious leader) or Christ? Only one truly recognizes who is the giver of all good things and he sees that Christ was truly the Messiah. He returns and acknowledges His divinity. Perhaps the other 9 don't realize who really blessed them.

  5. Anonymous #2. Another thing to think about. Thank you. from my understanding Christ told them to go show themselves unto the priest to be obedient to mosaic law. If rejected- why go to the priest? They ran because their was a chance for healing. One realized he was healed and he came back, perhaps. Perhaps he had more faith and was healed quicker. He believed his evidence before he saw his faith rewarded.

  6. Thank you for your perspective. I truly enjoy reading your blog, and your courage and faith inspires me. I too agree that the miracle we "should always be praying for" is "not to be freed from trials or tribulations, but the miracle of being able to live and keep the commandments in any situation". Many of my trials are far different than yours, but the principle is still the same. In all things, we should try to have faith and seek to obey God's commandments. After all, when you strip it all down, that's why we're here, right? Thanks again for your posts.

    Steve Dalton


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