That previous border incident of rejection for racial or religious reasons did not deter or stop Jesus. Still traveling to Jerusalem and at the border of Galilee and Samaria, Jesus headed toward another village where he might be accepted. As Luke tells in Luke 17:11-12, unexpectedly, he is met by 10 lepers. The disease of leprosy was one of the worst curses a person could encounter. Slowly but visibly destroying the skin, the disease disfigured its victim and threatened others who might contract it through contact. Those suffering not only faced a dreaded future but also they were ostracized from their home residences. Jewish and Samaritan law, written by Moses, prohibited contact of those infected with anyone not infected.
Jesus was not traveling alone. With him was an entourage of followers, men and women, learning from him as they helped in ministry. The lepers recognized the entourage and, as many afflicted Galileans regularly did, they asked him to miraculously cure them (13). Compassionately, Jesus responded as usual, with an offer of help (14). The lepers decided to accept the offer, believing that through it God would grant them relief, and relief they instantly received — totally healed on the spot!
One of these ten, realizing what Jesus had done for him, returned to express his deep gratitude (15). That one was a Samaritan. Apparently, the cultural, racial, and religious barriers that separated geographical neighbors in that area did not apply to those afflicted with leprosy. They were together, yet at that moment a notable separation occurred. This Samaritan did not seem to let the Jewishness of Jesus prevent him from falling down at his feet in appreciation. Neither did his Samaritan-ness affect Jesus, who considered response to God a greater virtue than religion (18). Jesus held up his example of faith as an important teaching lesson (19).
This story beautifully displays Jesus’ disposition toward human beings regardless of race, religion, etc. He was sensitive and compassionate, and he was willing to help. He was not resentful about his previous experience of rejection near the border, and he did not screen the people by the distinctives of their religious practice.