A Bible Study Guide on Luke 17:11-19

Part One: STOP Speeding; SLOW Down; YIELD Him the Right of Way!

A.Basic Training: Part of our purpose during Bible Class time is to develop the discipline of a closer reading of Holy Scripture. Our first questions should almost always be the most basic sorts of questions. Too often, precisely because we believe “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful” (2 Tim. 3:16), we are so eager to hear what the Lord is saying to us for our own life now, we tend skim over and skip right past the fact these words were first revealed, spoken and written to others for their life and learning in Christ. We are not the first to hear them.

B.Take The Time: We are hearing and reading the Word of the Lord some 2,000 years or more later, in very different languages and times from the ones in which God first makes them known! The places mentioned are not all that familiar. The people involved may be familiar by name, but not by circumstance. We use some of this language and these words, but sometimes not with the same meaning. The customs they know and follow are often very different from ours. Places, people, language and customs can all come to bear in meaningful, important ways we might easily miss if we don’t slow down enough to learn them.

C.Note The Narrative: Especially do such details matter in narrative passages. Narratives record events, stories and conversations. Narratives are common throughout Moses’ books (Gen. – Deut.), the historical books (e.g. Joshua, Judges, Kings, Chronicles or Acts) and in the Gospels. Details of who is speaking or listening always matter.

D.Jesus At The Center: Finally and most importantly, Scripture is Christ-centered. All Scripture reveals Christ. It points and fixes everyone’s attention all through the centuries on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Bible is first, foremost and always about Jesus, who He is, what He says and does. Until we hear what it actually says about Him, we cannot rightly grasp what it is saying to us!

Part Two:The Journalist Basics-Who, What, Where, When, Why, How?

E.The Text in Context: Jesus Journeys toward Jerusalem

Luke 17:11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.

Back in Luke 9:28-36, following the Transfiguration, our Lord’s ministry reaches a turning point. Read Luke 9:51-56. From that point forward in the Gospel, Jesus is on a steady march to what destination? (See this strong theme repeats Luke 13:22,33; 18:31)

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F. The text in context: Of Lepers and Priests

12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”

14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.

There is an entire chapter devoted to leprosy in the Bible. Read Leviticus 13, especially Lev. 13:1-8. Other kinds and cases are dealt with similarly. Describe the diagnostic and treatment process prescribed in the Law:

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Read Leviticus 13:45-46. What must one pronounced unclean do?

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G.The Text and Context: How Jesus Cares for the Unclean

These are not the first lepers Jesus has met. For example, earlier in the Gospel of Luke we read Luke 5:12-13. Note how Jesus restores the leper to cleanliness and community, but Himself is isolated thereafter.

How did Jesus deal with the leper there in Luke 5?

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In Biblical theology, physical contact with something unclean makes a person also unclean. Biblical ‘uncleanliness’ is contagious, contaminating. It defiles one such that one must be cleansed, or one cannot remain in community or enter in to worship and contact with the holy things of God. Read Leviticus 5:2-6. Notice that the ‘unclean’ status, whether conscious or unconscious, results in ‘guilt’ that must be recognized, dealt with and addressed.

What kinds of contact cause one to become unclean?

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What must happen to remove unclean status?

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H. The text in context: Of Lepers and Priests, Again

Reread our Gospel passage, Luke 17:12-14 below:

12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”

14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.

We learned at least two reasons for Jesus to send these lepers to the priests, because of the Law of Moses in Leviticus 5 and 13.

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Part Three: The Lepers and the Lamb Without Blemish

I. Jesus has changed his approach to these lepers here in Luke 17, dealing quite differently with them than with the leper in Luke 5. We know from the first verse in our passage (Luke 17:11) Jesus is now heading to Jerusalem. The Passover of our ‘holy week’ is approaching, including the night when he will be betrayed.

Read Exodus 12:5, Lev. 4:32, and 1 Peter 1:19. What third reason might Scripture suggest for this change in our Lord’s approach?

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J. Jesus does not explain his response to the lepers here in Luke 17. At the time the Holy Spirit first led Luke to record this account, his readers were likely much more familiar with the Law of Moses than we. Now, these many centuries later, we might quickly read Luke 5 and 17, easily concluding Jesus is simply arbitrary and fickle. When we take our time to learn what the first hearers of God’s Word knew (because this New Testament was still being written!), we discover this passage points to our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross. Read 1 John 1:7. What does the blood of Jesus do?

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Part Four: The Leper’s Response and Ours is Thanksgiving

K. Read the remaining verses of our passage from Luke 17:

15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.

17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”

19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.

Note the posture of thanksgiving. Also note the Greek word for Thanksgiving? Eucharist!

The Divine Service we use on Sundays is well grounded in the cleansing theology evident here in the account of these lepers in Luke 17. We confess “we are by nature sinful and unclean.” Spiritually unclean, in a contaminating and contagious way that by rights would exclude us from holy community and communion with The Lord.

With the lepers and many others in the New Testament and Old, we pray the Kyrie twice: after confession and before the collect. The word of absolution pronounces us clean to draw near. Then we pray “Lord have mercy” again in the Agnus Dei, “Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world. Have mercy on us…” Soon afterward, we look forward to communion, receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus, His Son which cleanses us from all sin.”

“It is truly meet, right, and salutary that we should…give thanks!” For our last question, look up the word “salutary” and write its definitions or synonyms below:

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Hear the sermon on Luke 17:11-19


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