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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!” Luke 17:12-13

In Jesus’ day, leprosy was a terrible disease. While it is treatable today, during Biblical times it was a slow moving and eventually fatal disease. Small skin lesions would begin to eat away at fingers, toes and facial features and in later stages destroy the nervous system and lead to death.

While the physical disease was horrific, it may have been the emotional and spiritual part of the disease that was more painful to endure. Since there was no cure for leprosy and it was considered highly contagious. When a person was diagnosed with leprosy they were sent away from society so that the people would be spared. The leper was required to let his hair grow long, wear torn clothes, cover he lower part of his face and call out “Unclean! Unclean!” when a person without leprosy approached.

Often lepers would live alone or in colonies just outside the city wall. Imagine being a spouse or a child and only get to see your father from a distance. Imagine the emotional heartache and the financial burden that would be placed on the family because ‘daddy can’t live at home anymore.’

But it gets worse! Not only did society reject and isolate the leper, the church did too! Leprosy was considered a symbol of sin. Therefore if a person got leprosy it was assumed that the person (and perhaps the family) had sin in their lives. As a result, the family of a leper was under just as much suspicion as the leper when it came to sin.

When the ten lepers in Luke 17 saw Jesus they approached him as far as was appropriate and begged for mercy. They knew their need for healing and they had no doubt heard about this itinerant preacher who healed people everywhere he went.

The lesson each of us can learn from the ten lepers is that we all have a tremendous need for Jesus. We all have sin in our lives that keep us from a relationship with God. We all have a fatal disease called ‘being human’ that will eventually lead to death. The death rate among humans is 100%.

The advantage we have over the lepers is that we can hide most of our sin if we choose. People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, pornography, anger/abuse and other ‘diseases of the soul’ have done quite well at covering up the secret lives they live. However, God sees through the façade. He isn’t fooled by religious activity or many words of assurance. Like the leper, our private lives are wide open to God.

I’m thankful today that I don’t have to hide behind all sorts of masks and disguises. I’m thankful that Jesus sees my faults as clearly as he saw the leperous sores on the men he came across that day and accepts me as I am with all my faults.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus like the leper, I have a disease. I can hide it from others but I know I can’t hide if from you. Thank you that even though you know my weakness, you love me just the same. Thank you that because of your forgiveness I don’t have to call out “Unclean! Unclean!” Amen

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