Luke 17:11-19: 10 Lessons from the Ten Lepers

What can we learn from the story of the ten lepers whom Jesus Christ healed? In this post, let us go through Luke 17:11-19 and discover the powerful lessons we must learn.

The story of the ten lepers is a story found in the Gospel account of Luke. Though it is not found in other Gospel writings, it doesn’t mean that it is insignificant. There are a lot of things we can learn from Luke 17:11-19 such as being thankful, God’s mercy, and how we are reconciled to God.

So, stick around and discover the important lessons we learn from the ten lepers story.

In this blog:

Luke 17:11-19: 10 Lessons from the Ten Lepers
Luke 17:11-19: 10 Lessons from the Ten Lepers

What does the Bible say about Luke 17:11-19?

To give you a better context, here’s what Luke 17:11-19 mentioned:

11 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.

15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.

17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

lepers-and-leprosy-in-the-bible
Lepers were outcasts in the society of Israel.

Summary of Luke 17:11-19

In Luke 17:11-19, we read about the healing of ten lepers.

The story happened when Yahshua passed through Samaria and Galilee, in the northern part of Jerusalem.

As Jesus Christ (Yahshua the Messiah) entered a village, ten lepers called out to Him from afar, asking for mercy.

Christ instructed the men to show themselves to the priest. On their way to the priest, they were cleansed.

Out of the ten lepers, only one went back to the Messiah. He glorified God and gave thanks to Jesus. Luke noted that the leper was a Samaritan.

Christ asked how come only one came back and the one who did was a foreigner. That’s when He told the man that his faith has made him well.

Biblical background of the Ten Lepers Story

To understand the story of the ten lepers better, it is a must that we understand a few things. Here are some of the important concepts you need to know.

Where did the story happen?

The story happened in a certain village, located amid Samaria and Galilee. Yahshua was on His way to Jerusalem.

Samaria and Galilee at the time of Jesus
Samaria and Galilee at the time of Jesus (Photo credit: conformingtojesus.com)

Who were the lepers?

Leprosy is the common term used in the Bible to refer to an infectious skin disease. If a person developed a skin problem, he must immediately go to the priest and get examined. If leprosy is determined, the infected person must isolate himself.

If you contracted leprosy, the manifestations include disfigured faces due to the bacteria eating your flesh. Fingers and toes may also fall off and eventually the limb.

Once you are considered a leper, it is like a life sentence. According to Jewish law, a leper is prohibited to mingle or associate with the general community.

What is it like to be a leper during biblical times?

Leprosy in the olden times does not have a cure. Once you have the disease, you’ll have it for life. You will live outside of the community until you die.

As an outcast, a leper would live outside of towns or cities, where they may eventually bond with fellow lepers. They are prohibited from socializing with friends, families, and the general public.

Aside from the physical turmoil they suffer, they also go through mental and social torture. To top it all up, lepers are considered unclean and prohibited to join worship services. Most Jews also considered lepers as worse sinners and their illness is proof of that.

what it feels like to be a leper during the time of Christ
Lepers during the olden times were prohibited to socialize with the general public.

Who were the Samaritans?

In Luke 17:11-19, we read the one who returned and gave thanks was a Samaritan.

The Samaritans were people who lived in Samaria. They started to appear during the exile of the Northern Tribe of Israel by the Assyrians.

The Israelites were brought to Assyria while the Assyrians brought foreigners to Samaria. Some Israelites who were left in Samaria intermarried with foreigners. From there, the Samaritans were born.

The Jews considered the Samaritans as irreligious. They won’t even allow the Samaritans to join them in their worship services.

As a result, there was great hatred between the Jews and Samaritans.

With that said, let us now go through the best lessons we learn from the Ten Lepers in Luke 17:11-19.

(If you wish to learn more, please read, “Lessons from the parable of the Good Samaritan.”)

Lesson no. 1: We are all spiritual lepers

Sin turns us into spiritual lepers. Like leprosy, sin kills us slowly. 

It starts with irritated skin. Then, it becomes a lesion. Eventually, it becomes a full-blown disease that spreads throughout the body. You will lose your fingers, toes, and extremities. When you come to the final stage of the disease, you will inevitably die.

We need to recognize how destructive sin is like leprosy that slowly kills us.

Leprosy is known to be an incurable disease. Once you have it, you’ll have it for the rest of your life.

Like sin, leprosy separates us from God and His people.

That’s why it is not difficult to see why the 10 lepers were desperate to get healed by Jesus (Yahshua). They want to get healed so bad that they muster all their strength and resources to get as close as they can to Christ.

In the same way, we are all spiritual lepers and on our own, we can’t cure our disease. It takes the divine intervention of God and His Son to cleanse us from our infirmity.

Thankfully, we don’t have to remain as lepers. 

We can be cleansed if we are willing. 

The cure is available.

Here’s the problem: not all want to get well. 

Not all want to get cured.

In all of Jerusalem and adjacent regions, perhaps, there are more lepers. However, not all of them took the effort to get close to Christ and get healed.

In the story, we read there are ten lepers. There could be more, but at this time, there were only ten who approached Christ to get healed.

Do you want to get healed of your spiritual leprosy?

If yes, look for the cure.

Look for Christ!

Lesson no. 2: God is merciful

When the ten lepers approached Christ, what did they say?

 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:13)

They didn’t say, “Heal us.” Instead, they said, “Have mercy on us.”

What does this tell you?

It tells you that the lepers knew that Christ is merciful and compassionate. They appealed not to Christ’s miraculous power, but His mercy.

They know that Yahshua’s mercy is enough for them to get healed. They don’t have to explain to Yahshua what they need. They don’t need to explain to them what their problem was.

Yahshua already knew what they needed. They simply needed Christ’s mercy to get healed.

Notice what Lamentations 3:22-23 says:

22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.

23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. 

They asked for mercy and so, they receive mercy and by receiving mercy, they receive healing.

Lesson no. 3: We must do our part

It’s quite astonishing to me how so many people ask for God’s healing and yet, they don’t do their part.

They ask for healing, but they live an unhealthy lifestyle. They consume unhealthy food. They don’t exercise. They don’t get enough sleep. They have hazardous vices. They simply don’t take care of their health.

That’s why when the ten lepers asked for healing, Christ didn’t heal them immediately. Jesus didn’t even say that He will heal them.

When the lepers asked for mercy, what was the response of Christ?

He said:

So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” (Luke 17:14)

This tells us that we have a role to play. God will surely do His part, but we must also do ours.

When we give our best, we can simply surrender everything in the hands of Yahweh. From there, we must be faithful and this leads us to the next lesson.

Lesson no. 4: Our faith would be tested

It took faith to get healed and when I said faith, I mean LIVING faith.

Living faith is a faith in action. It is not simply a belief system that you keep in your heart and mind.

It must be coupled with action.

The ten lepers have already heard of Christ’s miraculous healing. Now, their faith is starting to develop. They recognize that Yahshua has the ability to heal them.

That’s faith.

However, that’s just intellectual faith.

Now, they need to couple it with action.

Stay faithful when we are tested.

They approached Christ as close as they could go. They went to great lengths just to find Yahshua and get His attention.

They now have the faith to approach God. However, their faith would also be tested.

Notice that Christ didn’t tell them that they will be healed. 

Christ simply said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”

A lot of things might have run through the minds of these lepers:

“I came to see Christ, but instead of getting healed, I’m being sent to the priest.”

“Why don’t Yahshua say whether He will heal us or not?”

“I want to get healed now, I don’t need to go to the priest.”

“If God is powerful, why not heal me now?”

“What if the priest would simply chase us away?”

“What if I don’t get healed and going to the priest is just a waste of time?”

“The priest is too far from here. I’m too weak and tired to travel.”

The lepers might have thought of these things that have tested their faith.

Yet, despite all these, they were obedient.

They went to the priest and sure enough, they were cured.

We read:

14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. (Luke 17:14)

Lesson no. 5: Don’t forget to be thankful

Sometimes, when we are at our finest and the peak of our success, we become forgetful. We forget to give thanks to Yahweh and for all the blessings, both small and big.

That’s what happened to the nine lepers.

Notice that out of the ten lepers, only one came back to give thanks and praise:

15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:15-16)

The joy of getting healed moved the man to praise and glorify God. He didn’t simply whisper his praise, but with a LOUD voice.

It is such a great sight to see a person who is not afraid to glorify God, who is not ashamed to proclaim God’s goodness in his life.

Aside from that, the man fell down at Christ’s feet, giving thanks.

Thankful gratitude thank you thanksgiving day
May our thankfulness be not just be seen on t-shirts, but also in our daily lives.

Lesson no. 6: Worship and gratefulness should come hand in hand

It is worth noting that it is difficult to worship God without feeling grateful. However, sometimes, we can be grateful, but still, forget to praise God.

What I mean is that we can be thankful to other people, but not realize who is the real Source of our blessings.

Thus, we can focus on the people whom God used and simply forget about giving back the glory to God.

So, when you give thanks to others, give thanks to God as well and give Him praises and glory.

Lesson no. 7: God expects us to be thankful

God wants us to thank Him not because He is narcissistic or that He needs our gratitude. God is God whether we give thanks or not.

We give thanks for our benefit.

Being thankful allows us to remember God as our true Source of blessing. It reminds us that we are nothing without God and this reinforces our dependence and reliance on Him.

God wants to build a close relationship with us and being thankful is one of the best ways we become closer to Him.

Notice the response of Christ to the man who returned:

17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18)

Christ expected us to be thankful and when we are not thankful, we become more focused on ourselves, which is a favorite recipe of Satan for us to eventually sin.

Being thankful has a lot of benefits in our lives:

  • Gratitude helps us to become happier (cures depression)
  • Being thankful helps us to build relationships with God and one another
  • Thankfulness helps us to sleep better (instead of counting sheep at night, count your blessings)
  • Gratitude helps us to have a more positive outlook on life
  • Gratefulness makes us more resilient amid can trials

As you can see, God wants us to be thankful not to benefit Himself, but to benefit us.

Lesson no. 8: It’s not who you are, but it’s what you do

Did you notice something interesting in the story of the ten lepers?

Read this again:

15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:15-16)

Why did Luke have to highlight the fact that the only leper who returned was a Samaritan?

Luke was making a point.

The Samaritans were deeply hated by the Jews. They consider them as an outcast, people who can’t do anything right.

Yet, in the Luke 17:11-19 story, of all the people who came back, it was a Samaritan. The Jews would have least expected a Samaritan giving thanks and praise.

Christ knew that the Jews can be too self-righteous and their superiority complex can prevent them from truly following Christ.

Now, the Jews labeled this person as a “Samaritan.” A label that for them is undesirable.

You see, you can call yourself a Christian all you want. You can call yourself a child of God, a pastor, a minister, church leader, church member, or a Jew. However, those labels are useless if you are simply a Christian by name.

It is not who you are, but it is what you do that makes a big difference.

Lesson no. 9: Gratitude must be learned

The story of the ten lepers shows us the reality of our human nature.

It is not natural for us to be thankful. Thankfulness is something that we must deliberately produce and consciously practice.

As you can see, 1 out of the 10 lepers was ungrateful. That is true as well today. It seems that out of the 100% of people on this earth, only 10% are truly grateful. 

One person even said, “If you want to find gratitude, look for it in the dictionary.” He was saying that gratitude is so rare today, that you might as well just find it in dictionaries.

I want you to go back and read verse 15 again. It says:

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God…

He glorified God and gave thanks to Yahweh with a loud voice. 

How loud is your voice? 

What I mean is how big is your gratitude to God? 

Are truly grateful to Yahweh? 

If yes, how much of that gratefulness changes our perspective in life?

Thankfulness is an important part of our Christian life.

Don’t neglect it.

There’s always something to be thankful for.

Lesson no. 10: Aim to get spiritually healed

While we all want to get healed of our physical illnesses, more than anything else, aim to become spiritually healed instead.

Notice what Christ said to the Samaritan:

19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

All the 10 lepers were healed but only one gave thanks.

All the 10 lepers were joyful but only one remembered to say thank you.

All the 10 lepers experienced the same miracle but only one has the faith that made him not just physically, but also spiritually well.

1 Peter 1:6-8 tells us:

6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love.

Aim to have the kind of faith that will heal you spiritually — that will make you spiritually whole.

“Your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:19).

Learn the powerful lessons of Luke 17:11-19

There you have it friends, the 10 important lessons from the ten lepers mentioned in Luke 17:11-19.

I hope and pray that these lessons will not simply stay in your hearts, but also be seen in your daily life.

Remember how awful sin is and how it separates us from God. Bear in mind as well the importance of being thankful. 

When you do, you will have a life that is more blessed, peaceful, and victorious.


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