Ten Lepers
© Henry Martin

What happened to the rest of them? 
Based on the story of the Ten Lepers in the Bible in Luke 17:11 - 19
All art is © Henry Martin.
Free use for ministry purposes. Not to be used for publication or profit.

by Steve Harris

Numbers, they are everywhere! Interestingly, the Bible is full of them, 40 days and 40 nights, 12 tribes and 12 disciples, to think of just a few. I don’t know what you think of numbers but some people seem to be really good at them. If it is adding up, division, taking away or multiplication they never seem to have a problem.

Jesus wasn’t really that interested in numbers, he was someone more interested in people but even so there are load of numbers in the stories of Jesus. The feeding of the 5,000, 5 loaves and 2 fish, the parables with 100 sheep etc. - numbers are everywhere.

Jesus as you may know had 12 disciples who travelled with him for about 3 years and saw with their own 2 eyes, or should I say 24 eyes (12X2), all the things that Jesus did, and their 24 ears listened to all that he said. You get the idea!

Well one day Jesus was off on his way to Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel, with his disciples on another trip when they happened to come across 10 men. To Jesus’ 12 disciples this was a small crowd but they were pretty scared. It wasn’t that they wanted to hurt Jesus and the disciples, they didn’t have any weapons; in fact every single one of them was very sick.

Ten LepersThis was the problem, the 10 men coming towards the 12 disciples and Jesus all had a sickness or disease, and it was called leprosy. You may not have heard of it, but in Jesus’ time everyone was scared stiff of catching it. The problem was, no one really knew how you got the disease and they certainly didn’t know how to make you better once you had it.

It was, and still is in some countries, a really nasty disease, I won’t go into to many details in case you have your tea after you read this story but it had a habit of making bits of your body drop off – fingers, toes – you get the picture it was and is really nasty. Fortunately today they do have medicines to at least stop the disease doing more damage if you catch it, and actually even countries where it does happen it is pretty hard to catch it!

The problem was the 12 didn’t know any of that, so they were scared to let these 10 men come anywhere near them. The 10 men stood at a distance and shouted out “Jesus, Master help us!”

The 12 glad they were at a distance but there was 1 person who didn’t seem scared at all it was Jesus! I can imagine Jesus just walking up to the ten and not only talking to them but also touching them.

They were looking for Jesus because they had heard about the amazing miracles and they wanted to see if Jesus could make all of them well again.

Jesus told them to go and see the local priest, who was kind of like the doctor in cases like this! As they went on their way something amazing happened, their leprosy got better! By the time the priest got to see them which could only have been a matter of hours at the most, the leprosy was gone! Amazing!

Ten Lepers 2You can imagine how excited the 10 were, you see, when you had leprosy you had to leave your family, your friends, your job and live where no one else could catch the dreaded disease. Now they were free to go back home and begin their lives again.

Amazingly leprosy in the Bible similar to what the bible calls sin. In the same way as leprosy separated people from family and friends, so sin separates us from God’s plan for our lives. In the same way as Jesus could heal leprosy, he came to deal with the big problem of sin and he did that through his death on the cross at Easter time.

Any way back to story, 10 very happy men left the priest that day but you know what, as 9 of them set off to begin their new lives there was one standing thinking, ‘I’ve got to find Jesus’

Ten Lepers 3He ran as fast as he could back the way he had come, praising God at the top of his voice, and sure enough he soon caught up with Jesus and the 12 disciples. Jesus was a bit surprised to see him, but he was even more surprised that he was by himself. The man, who probably had the longest journey back to his family and friend because he came from another area called Samaria, had made the effort to come and say thank you. He fell at Jesus’ feet.

Jesus looked around, perhaps thinking he was just the fastest runner and the others would soon catch up. Then he looked down at the 1 who come back to say thank you. “Hang on a minute,” Jesus said. “Weren’t there 10 of you, what happened to the other nine. You’re not even from these parts and you have made the effort to come back to me and say thank you.”

Jesus picked the man up and said, with a big smile on his face “Get up, your faith has made you well.”

All 10 lepers were healed so it’s strange that only one came back. I wonder what Jesus meant by “your faith has made you well”. I don’t know, but I like to think that not only had the leprosy gone away, but if the leprosy had caused any fingers, or toes or other bit of his body to fall off he would have looked down and found that God had given him new ones! Who knows?


Some questions to think about:

Is there anyone you know who is ill who you could pray for and be kind to this week?
How did you feel when you were perhaps ill and didn’t know what to do?
Have you asked Jesus to sort out your “problem” of sin?