Ten men lived on death row in the wilderness. Their society and their families believed they had a religious duty to desert them. There was no touch of compassion.

Death was measuring them for a lingering extinction somewhere in the rocks of the desert. Their vultures circled overhead.

God, they believed, had punished and abandoned them.

The plight of one of them was even worse than the other nine: he was a Samaritan among Galileans and the two nations were not even on speaking terms in normal circumstances. Samaritans were regarded with contempt so he endured extra penalty.

Jesus came along the road with a group of his companions. Standing well back, they called out to him, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us.’ It was a cry of challenge for only the very God of heaven could help them.
Jesus turned and looked and all he said was ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ He included the Samaritan, returning their challenge with a challenge to obey. The gift he was about to give was life from death and it could only be received through obedience.

The ten watched in disbelief as Jesus walked on.

Reluctantly, they turned in the direction of Jerusalem.

Jesus was so excited at what would happen he could not wait until they reached the priest, he healed them even as they went towards his Father’s temple. They noticed change. They looked at their hands and feet and they looked at one another. It was true, their skin was coloured again, they really could go to the priests and be declared clean.

Suddenly the future belonged to them. As the vultures wheeled off, their steps strengthened to a trot. Family, friends and neighbours would be ecstatic at their homecoming.

Only the Samaritan hesitated. To be healed by a Jew broke all barriers with him. He stopped, then he turned and ran back the way he had come. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him for two gifts in one; the gift of life that came prefaced with the gift of obedience.

Reference: Luke 17:11-19

Elizabeth Price