Reflecting on Luke 17 11-19

We are studying Luke 17:11-19, with a nod at Leviticus 13:45-46, for Sunday, July 4. Some notes on the Leviticus text, which Christians are in the habit of mistreating, are here. Some notes on the Luke text are here. Here are a few questions we might want to ponder or discuss:
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What do we make of the various themes of exclusion or social distance in this text? [Jesus is in a border area between Galilee and Samaria, a “foreign” territory; the 10 leprous men seem to meet him on the edge of town, keep their distance, “everyone knows” leprosy imposes social and religious and spiritual distance; the man is a Samaritan, so there’s ethnic distance.]

Do we think there is something we are supposed to make of them? What? Why do we think that?
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The men call Jesus “Master;” what do we think that means?

The men ask Jesus for “mercy”; what do we think that means?

[Specifically, we might want to ask ourselves whether we think it is a request for healing, from leprosy, or for something else or more than that. We might want to remember the sequence of events in the healing story in Luke 5, which moves from forgiving sins to healing as a sign of that forgiveness. That story, by the way, immediately follows a story where Jesus cleanses a single leper, who specifically asks to “be made clean.” And while we’re on that topic, we might want to remember that this disease seems to have been understood as a direct affliction from God, for cause – that is, in its cultural context, it’s a badge of some kind of unrighteousness.]

[More personal] Do we ourselves call Jesus “Master”? Do we ourselves ask Jesus for mercy? What does that mean? When we experience it, what do we do?
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How is the one who turns back different from the other nine, do we think? Why does he turn back? Why don’t the others? Do we understand that?

[What if we read this story alongside Luke 7:36-50? Would that give us any different ideas about what’s going on?]

[A lot more personal] What do we need to learn from this story?
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two young women conversing over a picket fence

Image: “Conversation,” Camille Pissaro, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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