Leviticus 14:2: “This shall be the law of the leprous person for the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest,
For the one who is leprous in the Old Testament to be declared clean by the high priest, he needs to go through an elaborate process, at the end of which the priest will declare him restored (Leviticus 13-14).
That was why when 10 lepers came to have Jesus heals them (Luke 17:12-19), he declared that they should go and show themselves to the priest, based on the requirement of the Law of Moses. As they went, they experienced supernatural cleansing; but only one came back to thank God. He was a Samaritan.
Coming back to say thank you means that the Samaritan wants more than healing, he wants a relationship with Jesus. He is not just about collecting something, receiving blessing, by retracing his steps, he reduced his distance between himself and Jesus. He wants a connection with him.
The cleansing of leprosy symbolises cleansing from sin. David, when he committed the sin of adultery and murder, asked God to clean him with hyssop leaf (Psalm 51:7). That same leave is part of the ritual involved in declaring someone who had leprosy clean based on the requirement of the Old Testament (Leviticus 14:4).
Therefore sin is like leprosy. That was why God had to put Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), just as a man who is leprous will have to be declared unclean and put outside of the community in the Old Testament. The infinite purity of God means that he has to reject the impure (Habakkuk 1:13).
That is why Satan had to be pushed out of the “garden” of heaven, when the iniquity of rebellion and insubordination was found in him (Ezekiel 28:14-19). The same was found in Adam and Eve and they were pushed out of the Garden of Eden, the same was found in Saul and he was pushed out of the kingship of Israel (1Samuel 15:23). God has zero tolerance for sin, which is why it was imperative for Jesus to die taking away the sins of the world before we can be received by God (John 3:16), once we believe, God will not force anything down our throat.
Therefore the ten people who have been healed by Jesus can be said to symbolize those receiving salvation. Those of us who have received salvation have received cleansing through him from our sins. We have salvation, we have our names written in the book of life (Luke 10:20), we are taken from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13), and we become new creatures (2Corinthians 5:17).
But many (maybe 9 in 10 based on the story of the 10 lepers heals by Jesus) don’t bother coming to Jesus to know him, to connect with him, to seek him, to be devoted, to be close to him. Many are content to be saved, but they are not willing to come and bow to him as the Samaritan leper did.
He came back bowing down. The remaining 9 who are Jews probably developed a sense of entitlement. They probably said to themselves: “we deserve to be saved, since we were not so bad to start with, we are Jews and already have the right to be blessed.” They were therefore not so appreciative.
Or maybe they did not want to be associated with Jesus, just at the parents of the man born blind that Jesus healed (John 9). They were careful not to be seen to approve of Jesus with their words, so that they would not be thrown out of the synagogue, and become social outcasts.
One person who was criticized by others but commended by Jesus was a woman who broke an alabaster box full of expensive oil on the head of Jesus and applied the ointment to his feet, ointment on the feet of Jesus weeping on it and wiping it with her hair (Luke 7:37-50, Mark 14:3-9). Some onlookers grumbled that the woman was wasteful but Jesus explained her behaviour saying: “He, who is forgiven much, loves much.”
This shower of adulation and effusions of affections, and the generousity of her heart were all linked to fact that she appreciated the gift of forgiveness that she have from God. So like the Samaritan, this woman experienced restoration and she came back to Jesus, to connect with him, to express affection to him, to be in his presence.
In a place, Jesus declared that he has power on earth to forgive sins (Mark 2:10). But for those he forgives, there is a caveat. He says go and sin no more (John 5:14, 8:11). The gift of forgiveness which is part of the grace of Jesus Christ is not a license to continue to play with sin, saying to oneself: Is there no forgiveness with God? We are told that God is not mocked, what a man sows he will reap (Galatians 6:7-8).
The cleansing provided by Jesus is not one that is mere washing of a cloth, which will inevitably be dirty with reuse. It is the empowerment of having our conscience purged from dead works, rid of the possibility of sin. The writer of the book of Hebrews talks about elementary principles of Christ which includes repentance from dead works (Hebrews 6:1-3). In the same book the bible talks about the blood of Jesus having the power to purge our conscience from dead works (Hebrews 9:14). John also wrote that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from sins (1John 1:7, 9). All these show that the blood of Jesus is supernatural. It is the blood of God (Acts 20:28). The blood is alive. Having been shed; it has a life of its own and is activate for cleansing us from sins when we repent.
God knows that we cannot do away with sin on our own. That is what he set up a sin-dissolving, sin resistant solution called the blood of Jesus. It is the most powerful element in the world. The bible says that the blood of Jesus speaks (Hebrews 12:24).
Jesus, while he was having the last Passover meal, he lifted up a cup of wine and said that is the new covenant in my blood (Luke 22:20); thereby giving his blood, a new status. His covenant (the new covenant) is the covenant of life. Since his blood is his life (John 6:53), it cancels out every operation of death (Hebrews 2:14).
His blood answers to our faith. We need to have the faith that according to the word of God, that blood springs into action to cleanse us from all sins, when we make confession. So the process of confession is not just an activity to assuage our conscience of guilt feeling, but a divine process of cleansing, the removal of the possibility of removal of the possibility of sin, purging the conscience from sin.
We are bought to Jesus the high priest to be made clean by him (Hebrews 4:14). If there is a singular most important need of humanity it is to be cleansed from our sin; otherwise it renders us unable to go along with God. The way of God is the way of holiness (Isaiah 35:8).
If there is any change we need, it is to be changed into the image of the son of God. That is our ultimate need. He is the righteous one (1John 2:1). After many years of following Jesus, Paul said still said his ambition is to know him and the power of his resurrection, being made conformable to his death (Philippians 3:10).