Levitical law separated the leper from the rest of society; lepers lived at a distance, never again to touch their loved ones, or to speak with them intimately. Never again could they hug their children or kiss their spouse.
Leprosy is highly contagious, and is spread by skin contact and through water droplets, like a cough or sneeze or a runny nose. Leprosy attacks the central nervous system, but its symptoms appear as tumors and disfigurement of the flesh and bone. Fingers twist in unnatural ways; hands become claws, and arms and legs become useless over time. The life of a leper is a painful and sad.
Lepers suffered so greatly that people in the time of Jesus naturally assumed that the afflicted must be paying for some terrible sin. And, why wouldn’t they think that? Two thousand years later, many of us still believe that way, to some extent.
It was near the end of His ministry when Jesus, passing through an unnamed village between Samaria and Jerusalem, was called on by ten such lepers. In keeping with the Law, they called from a distance. “Master, have mercy on us!”
His answer may seem strange to us, but that is only because we don’t live under the Law. “Go, and show yourselves to the priests.” Before a leper could rejoin society, he or she must have been certified to be free of the disease by a priest.
The Bible doesn’t say for sure, but I imagine an expression or two of doubt on the faces of the lepers, and perhaps a few questions amongst them. Still, they obeyed Him.
And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
– Luke 17:19
The healing must have been slow and progressive, rather than instantaneous. Before the lepers arrived at the Temple or synagogue, they found themselves healed. One of them – just one – was so grateful that he turned back to thank Jesus before he had made it to see the priest.
So grateful was he that he fell at the Master’s feet and worshipped Him.
“Didn’t I heal 10 people?” said Jesus. Of course, He knew the answer. “Where are the other 9? Only one has found it in his heart to return and praise God, and He is a Samaritan.” Christ once again reminded His followers that their prejudice against their neighbors is simply wrong.
“Get up, He tells the Samaritan. “Arise and go your way. Your faith has made you whole.”
The leper’s mission had changed. Before turning around to express his gratitude to Jesus, his mission had been to go see the priests. Now, healed and made whole, he received new inductions from Christ… to go his own way.
“You are made whole.”
And, here’s my point. Those who experience a real encounter with Christ are made whole, spiritually whole; theirs lives are renewed and made complete and they simply cannot continue to go on living like they once had. They are compelled to follow Jesus. Their missions change. Christ directs them in a different direction. They receive a change of plans. Theirs hearts have changed. Their entire lives change.
Have you been made whole? If not, you only need ask. Fall at His feet and praise Jesus. Ask Him to change Your heart. Your life will change. Forever.