Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (NIV)
There Jesus goes again, crossing boundaries, blurring dividing lines, touching the untouchable.
He is on his way to Jerusalem, and any self-respecting Jew would go around Samaria, taking the long way, but Jesus goes through it. He is in the margins of Galilee for this story, near the border with Samaria which is the territory between Galilee and Judah. The rivalry between the Samaritans and the Jews is a longstanding disagreement. They both worship Yahweh, but the question is how. They have become bitter enemies over it too. Jews worship Yahweh in the temple in Jerusalem. Samaritans worship Yahweh on Mount Gerizim, no temple needed. There were other differences too, but that was the main one. That these ten men with their skin disease found it useful to be together, despite their differences, is an important point. The scripture doesn’t tell us if they were together always, or if they just came together because of Jesus. Either way, they were together and they weren’t tearing each other apart. That is pretty much a miracle already.
It is a miracle we need in our own day. These days people barely tolerate those who hold different opinions, be they religious or political. Seems like it is generally “My way or the highway.” More and more people only want to hear from people they agree with, only want to associate people who are easy to get along with. There’s no time or energy for understanding the other nor is there a willingness to respect the humanity of the other who is on the other side of the political aisle, the other side of the proverbial red line, on the other side of the religious spectrum. Instead there is mocking and name calling and stereotyping. It was also that way for the Samaritans and the Jews.
So it isn’t any surprise the Samaritan went a different way from the other 9. He would have been going to see a different priest. When he saw he was healed, he returned to Jesus. We think of Jesus as the final high priest. I’m thinking this Samaritan knew it first. He showed himself to the priest… Jesus. And he did the most appropriate thing. He praised God. He recognized that God was in it. He was healed and that was a divine blessing. And he thanked Jesus. Jesus knew he didn’t have to go to anyone else. He said, “Rise and go.”
We don’t have to go to anyone else either. Go to Jesus today for whatever you need to be healed from. Jesus is there for you. And know that whoever you think of as an outsider, a rival, a little too different from you… you need them and they need you. Consider taking a cue from the Samaritan and the Galileans. Work together. Help each other out. You aren’t so different after all.
Blessings to you,
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.