A Cure for Leprosy (Article 18-18)
At times, it can be difficult to confront the truth of our existence. Many of us put a great deal of effort to do God’s will, and with it, the satisfaction of believing we are good, thus pleasing, in the eyes of God. However, the fact is we all were born with an evil nature and no measure of good works can ever change this reality of our existence. See, evilness didn’t come upon us, we were born with it (Ephesians 2:3) and will always suffer from it just as anyone would suffer from a genetically inherited disease or disorder. As such, we must confront the truth that evil resides in and reigns over our souls. Unattended, the evilness resides within leads us to become “spiritually dead” or “bankrupt”. It causes us to focus on and pursue those things that please our fleshly passions. Disconcerting too, is that we can do nothing about it. We cannot heal ourselves. The good news is that there is a cure.
God’s Ultimate Plan For Us. God’s plans for His beloved children are not to be “observers” of the Heavenly Throne, but rather participates on the Throne. Yes, that’s right. It is by way of faith and abiding in Christ, and He in us (John 15:5 ) that we are destined to sit on the right side of our loving and merciful Father. How can this be if we know that the truth of our existence is one of evilness and unrighteousness? Well, it’s quite simple. Our right and destiny to sit at the right hand of our Father is justified by our faith in Jesus Christ. Although presented as a simple concept to understand, it’s a difficult and arduous matter to undertake. Why? Because it requires us to have a complete change in our thinking and understanding (repentance) regarding who we are in relation to God and our need for Him in all things. In short, we must adopt and live in a complete state of humbleness, thus requiring us to abandon our prideful (evil) nature. It also requires us to know and believe we cannot deliver ourselves from our evil nature by our own accord (abilities). Our deliverance can only be achieved by way of Jesus Christ. There is no other way. It is only by our faith in (trust in) Christ can we be delivered. It is only by way of faith can we please the Father. It is only by way of faith can we find the peace and rest we have sought all our lives. It is only by way of faith can we be blessed. Above all, it is only by way of faith can we be redeemed, and with it saved from a judgement of eternal death. See, our loving and merciful Father comes to us even though we are spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, to give us back our lives. It is by our faith in the risen Christ that we are lifted up from the grave into glory along with Christ where we sit with him in the heavenly realms—all because of what Christ Jesus did (Ephesians 2:4-7). In Christ we are regenerated and restored back to the time of Adam, before his fateful decision to disobey God.
Explained In God’s Word. In Luke 17:11-16, we learn of Christ’s journey to Jerusalem. As He traveled, He stopped in a small village just before he entered into Samaria from Galilee. As He entered the village, ten (10) lepers cried out to Him from a distance. They cried out “Jesus, sir, have mercy on us!” To appreciate the symbolism of this scripture, I must pause and provide insight to the life of a leper at the time of Christ. Leprosy is a chronic and highly contagious “flesh-eating” disease that destroys the peripheral nerves of the body with crippling deformities and often leading to blindness. Lepers with advance symptoms lose their sense of touch, become horrifically disfigured with open sores, and often feel no pain at points on their skin. Because of the disease being highly contagious, lepers were cast out from their communities and isolated in what were referred to as leper colonies which served as type of communal quarantine. Lepers lost everything that was familiar to them, to include their basic rights of existence. They were separated from their families and were given no medical care. They were left isolated and alone to wait out the inevitable outcomes of the disease. It is from the above description of leprosy that we can begin to understand why they “cried out from a distance” for Christ’s mercy.
We are the Lepers. As with many examples of Christ’s ministries, His encounter with the lepers is symbolic of what has happened to us. Let me explain this with a closer examination of the referenced scripture. First note that there were ten (10) lepers. The number “ten” in scripture means to obey God’s commandments, serving as the basis of God’s first Covenant (promise) (referred to as the “Old Covenant”) with the Israelites. The Old Covenant was a conditional promise that God made with the Israelites. It was “conditional” in nature because in order to receive God’s promise of protection, mercy, and blessings, the Israelites had to obey God’s Laws which included the Laws of Moses (10 Commandments [Mosaic Laws]). Of course, we know by way of scripture that, no man is able to meet or fulfill the laws laid down by God due our evil, thus unrighteous, nature. Therefore, as mentioned earlier, our evil nature inclines us to focus on and pursue those things that please our fleshly passions, thus giving way to a judgement of death. It is from this perspective that we begin to understand why the story addresses “leprosy” – an incurable flesh-eating disease that ultimately leads to death. It is our passion to please our flesh’s insatiable appetite that we are able to live a spiritual existence – a plain of existence that allows to communicate and be one with God. We are “blind” (symbolic of a leper’s eventual condition of blindness) to the truth and the way. With this too, we experience isolation and a lone existence (symbolic of the leper’s colony of isolation), believing we are our own God and with it, the ability to control our destiny according to our own desires over God’s desires. Finally, note that the referenced scripture from Luke 17:11, states that Christ stopped in a village on the “border” between Galilee and Samaria. Galilee is often the region referred to the land largely occupied by Gentiles (non-Jews). Samaria means a perimeter or cylinder of “protection”. When considered together, Christ’s stopping near the border of Galilee and Samaria, symbolizes God’s plan to graft (transplant or adopt) the Gentiles into His family, and with it the providing of the same level of mercy, love, protection, and blessings afforded to the Jews (God’s originally chosen people). It’s my hope at this point you are able to see a beautiful story taking shape; however, let’s continue our journey to understand an even deeper and richer meaning of the scriptures contained in Luke 17:11-16.
The Ushering of the New Covenant. Remember, that as Christ stopped in the village, He noticed the lepers and heard their plea for mercy. With just a “look” Christ healed them and then commanded the lepers to go and show themselves to the Jewish Priest (presumably a priest within close proximity to their village). Note that when Christ “looked” at the lepers they were not immediately healed. Instead, they were healed as they were “going” to the Jewish Priest. Why is this important to meditate on? Because, God teaches us to understand that the lepers, by way of faith, knew they were healed before there was any physical evidence that had in fact been healed! They believed, and by way of their faith, justified their healing (salvation)! Second, we’re being reminded of the power of the New Covenant (the promise of grace) over the Old Covenant (obedience to God’s laws). As believers, we know with the New Covenant, things changed with God being the proactive and unconditional source of salvation and blessings. The New Covenant teaches us that God’s acceptance, love, mercy and protection is no longer conditional, which is based on following His laws. It’s based totally on our Faith in Christ. With the New Covenant, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This is why Christ commanded the healed lepers to show themselves to a Jewish Priest who is a believer and follower of the Old Covenant (obeying God’s Laws). As a result, the lepers served as witnesses to God’s New Covenant of grace – His unmerited favor given to all (Jews and Gentiles alike) who believe in the Son of God.
God Has Always Been in Control. For those who may believe that God lost control of man’s destiny, let me offer the below scripture. God said in Genesis 1:3-5,
“Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
See, on the very first day of creation, before God created man, He brought His beloved Son into the world. When He did, Christ separated the darkness (evil) from the light (the truth and way to righteousness). And with each new day comes an “evening” (darkness and despair), but also with each new day comes “morning” – a new day (new opportunity) to be regenerated into a new being, a better being, a happier being, joyful being, a peaceful being, and more powerful being. God has and always will be in control.
The Greatest Gratitude and Thanks We Should Extend. Finally, note in Luke 17:15-16 that one of the lepers stopped and returned to Christ shouting “Glory to God, I’m healed”. The leper then fell flat on the ground, from which the first man was created, giving thanks to and exalting God. This is our call to be Christ-like, for Christ’s ministry, deeds, and miracles all served to give thanks to, exalt, and glorify the Father.
It is by way of Christ, and only by way of Christ, can we be regenerated. Where we were once lepers, we are now healed and regenerated into new beings: redeemed, justified, and sanctified all by the works of Jesus Christ.
We must only believe.