Twenty-first Sunday of Pentecost

Jesus Heals Ten Lepers

Luke 17: 11 - 19

Leprosy is a mildly contagious disease which today is called Hansen's disease and can be readily treated with sulfa drugs.

In Jesus' time people who were physically unclean or who had a disease were considered to be spiritually unclean and could not participate in prayers or make sacrifices in the Temple.

The people in Palestine were afraid of lepers because they could infect healthy people with their disease, and they despised the lepers as people who must have committed terrible secret sins.

Since leprosy shows in the skin, lepers could not hide their illness from the community, so they were shunned and forced to live apart, because other people were afraid they could catch their disease from them.

Though leprosy is not fatal, it can affect the voice and vision, as well as the skin, nose, toes, and fingers, and the leper's physical condition continued to deteriorate during his or her lifetime.

Because lepers could not participate in worship, most people believed that the disease was a punishment for earlier sins - not being able to worship God was the worst punishment people could imagine - so people thought the lepers must have done something horrible to be punished so severely for their whole lifetimes.

That Jesus could cure a disease that no one else could even stop in its course shows that he was a true worker of miracles. That Jesus cured so many people who were prevented from praying and worshipping shows that his mission on earth was to reconcile people to God.

When Jesus healed the lepers just as Elisha had healed Naaman, many people thought he was an Old Testament prophet returned from the dead.

Some of the people Jesus healed may have had psoriasis, an autoimmune disease, which is not contagious. But people were so afraid of being banned from worship, that they avoided anyone who had a skin disease; nothing could be worse than a lifetime away from worshipping God.

1. How many lepers did Jesus heal?

[Jesus healed ten lepers.]

2. How many lepers came back to thank him?

[One healed leper came back to thank Jesus.]

3. Where did the healed leper come from?

[The healed leper came from Samaria.]

4. According to Jesus, why were the lepers healed?

[Jesus said, "Your faith has made you well."]

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