So…we had to cancel church service this past Sunday due to the nasty
weather.  I ended up doing a “Facebook Live” video approximating the
sermon that I would have given if we did have church.  Facebook wants
you to stay on Facebook, so it does not allow you to extract video – I
was hoping we could put the video on the church YouTube channel but it
was not to be.  The video got a great response – as I write this it
has had over 1.1k views.  For those of you who don’t have access to
that social media platform, here is my recreation of what I talked
about in the video.

The gospel lesson on Sunday was the story of the cleansing of the ten
lepers from Luke 17:12-19.  I read this in the video and mentioned
that the Bible was written to be heard – most people couldn’t read at
the time.  If you are in the habit of reading along with the gospel
reading on Sunday try just listening and not reading – it may give you
a different perspective on things.

And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a
distance and lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have
mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show
yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then
one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God
with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him
thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus, “Were not ten
cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give
praise to God except this foreigner?”  And he said to him, “Rise and
go your way; your faith has made you well.”

The passage is short – seven verses (I mistakenly said five in the
video) – but as always there is a lot of meaning packed into it.  The
verse that immediately precedes the passage suggests that the area in
which Jesus was working had a mix of Judeans and Gentiles: “Now it
happened as he went to Jerusalem that he passed through the midst of
Samaria and Galilee”.  Whenever we see a reference to Samaria or
Samaritans a red flag should go up.  Judeans and Samaritans couldn’t
stand each other, for political and other reasons going back
centuries.  To give one example – Judeans had destroyed the Samaritan
temple and in response Samaritans defiled the Jerusalem temple on the
eve of Passover by scattering human bones in it – a “tell us how you
really feel” moment.

There are ten lepers standing at a distance.  This was a society in
which ritual purity was huge and the lepers, because of their disease,
risked making any person they encountered unclean, hence the
positioning of themselves away from everyone else.  This also explains
why they would be a mix of Samaritans and Judeans – their disease made
them outsiders and allowed them to bond and hang out together –
something that would otherwise be impossible.  They also recognize
Christ as Lord, just as the demons do in other scripture passages –
the outsiders tend to pick up on this before everyone else does. Jesus
heals the lepers and has them show themselves to the priests.  This is
partly to prove to the priests his power, but was also to make them
officially ritually clean (I forgot to mention this part in the
video).  Only one healed leper comes back to thank Jesus and he is a
Samaritan.  Jesus refers to him as a “foreigner”, emphasizing the
outsider status of the Samaritan.  The final verse – “your faith has
made you well” – tells us that something beyond physical healing has
occurred in the story.

What are the take aways we can get from this story?  For one thing,
Jesus gets a 10% return on thankfulness – only one of the healed
lepers came back to thank him.  In our lives we can be very quick to
blame God when bad things happen to us, but do we thank him for the
many blessings we have and take for granted?  This is something that
is easy to neglect in our daily prayers (and daily prayers can be easy
to neglect – something to keep in mind).  Also, the story shows the
universality of the gospel message.  Christ comes to heal all,
including (and especially) outsiders and those hanging out with people
whom others disapprove of the association.