52 – Ten Lepers

When: September, 29 AD
Where: Esdraelon Valley, Galilee
Mark, Matthew, Luke, John,


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After his return from Mount Tabor, Jesus let those around him know that he had decided to leave Capernaum, and Galilee, and would move his ministry elsewhere. His mind was made up.

Some of his brothers, who were in Capernaum, thought that this was a great idea, and long overdue. In a few weeks the Festival of Booths would begin. Jesus should go to Jerusalem, attend the festival, and if he was the Messiah, then he should show everyone his power. The people would then proclaim Jesus as king.

But Jesus did NOT intend to be so obvious. People must live by faith! Thus he told them that he had no intention of attending the festival to declare his “political ambitions” [he did not have any].

But Jesus did leave Capernaum. Jesus and the disciples walked south along the lake to Magdala, then west on the “Way of the Sea”, and south past Mount Tabor and the Hill of Moreh, and then on south into the Esdraelon valley (Valley of Jezreel).

As Jesus and his disciples were crossing the Esdraelon Valley they approached the village of Esdraelon, which lay on the border between Galilee and Samaria. From a distance came the shouts of men. “Unclean”, they called.

They were lepers following the law of Leviticus. A leper “had leprosy”, which might consist of almost any blotching or mottling of the skin. A house with “moldy” walls was leprous. Rough, patchy, scaly skin was “leprous”. True leprosy brought a significant fear factor, such that anyone with “leprosy” had to live apart, wear ragged clothes, and from a distance, tell folks that they were “unclean”. Gathering in groups was common, as was begging, and thievery was not uncommon.

There were quite a large number of lepers approaching, looking to Jesus and his disciples for help. Some food, a spare blanket or cloak for the coming winter, or maybe some money would be greatly appreciated. But Jesus had other plans. He simply told them to go show themselves to a priest [a leper could be declared clean by a priest upon examination, and the offering of a sacrifice as described in Leviticus]. Then they would be allowed to return to their life].

After a short discussion among themselves the lepers all left for their group home base to get their things. Most of them were Galilean and would have to take the long trip to Jerusalem to “show themselves”, but one would only have to go to Shechem, because he was a Samaritan.

While they were preparing for their journey they noticed that they were healing. They realized that if they had not done as Jesus said, they would not have been healed. They also remembered that not far from here (just 20 miles to the west) the great prophet Elijah had told a doubting Syrian named Naaman, who had leprosy, to go to the Jordan River and bath seven times. If he had not done as he was told, he would not have been healed. But he did follow the instructions to bathe. He went to the Jordan River fifteen miles to the east and bathed seven times and was cured.

All were glad to be healed, but only one returned to find Jesus. The one who was considered to be uncouth “because of his ancestry”, got on his knees at Jesus’ feet to thank him. ‘So typical’, thought Jesus. ‘The Jews never acknowledged the authority of Jesus, though he had been sent to help them. But “foreigners” did.’

From there Jesus would head south through Samaria on his way to Jerusalem, to return only once again to Galilee.

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