It was not enough that Jesus could heal the bodies of the ten lepers. He recognized that some experiences are worse than physical discomfort. These men were exiled from living in community. They had no way to be restored to their families, friends and place in the world.
Jesus sent them to be examined by the priests. Jesus knew that the inner restoration of the men could not happen until they were returned to human acceptance. Without that piece of the equation, they could enjoy perfect health but never be recognized as cured. They would still be exiled and discarded.
When we pray for healing and get medical help for people that are sick, we must recognize that God is interested in each person belonging in community. We may find fault with the ancients for exiling their own to leper colonies, but the path back still requires protocols to be met. The people with Jesus’ heart understand that human empathy and acceptance are a great part of the healing journey.
The ten lepers were not immediately healed in Jesus’ presence, but were quickly made right when they were on the path to home. Seeing the priests would ensure that they had the right and freedom to return to who they really were. These were the same priests who preached that they were unclean.
Before anyone is restored to right relationship, they need a priest or mediator to declare them safe and sound. Who are the priests in your life? …Doctors, parents, pastors, parole officers… Someone needs to vouch for you if you are going to be accepted.
When the Samaritan leper returns to thank Jesus, it is the High Priestly function of Jesus to declare him well. Jesus the High Priest does not examine the man’s body for signs of disease, but declares that the man’s faith has made him acceptable. The man was healed in body and also in spirit. God’s acceptance of a Samaritan had been declared.
At the end of our healing journey it is not the absence of symptoms that proves our wellness, but faith in Jesus that makes us well. ‘Rise and go. Your faith has made you well.’