Only Luke has this story about the curing of the ten lepers. Luke indicated that this one cured leper prostrated himself or fell on his face (καὶ ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον) at Jesus’ feet (παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ). He thanked Jesus (εὐχαριστῶν αὐτῷ). It turns out that he was a Samaritan (καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν Σαμαρείτης). As this town was on the border between Galilee and Samaria, one of these lepers was a Samaritan. Luke once again emphasized the role of a Samaritan. In fact, this Samaritan leper was the only cured leper to return and prostrate himself at the feet of Jesus, thanking him. The others went on their way to see the Jewish priests in Jerusalem for the ritual cleansing. Was this cured leper Samaritan not going to go to the Judean priest for a cleansing anyway, since he would have gone to Mt. Gerizim? Have you ever felt not like part of the group?
Only Luke has this story about the curing of the ten lepers. Luke indicated that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem (Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἱερουσαλὴμ). He went through a region between Samaria and Galilee (καὶ αὐτὸς διήρχετο διὰ μέσον Σαμαρίας καὶ Γαλιλαίας). Jesus continued heading towards Jerusalem so that he had to pass through this Samaritan area that was next to Galilee. Luke had already shown a greater openness to the Samaritans than the other gospel writers. Are you open to neighbors who do not think like you do?
Σαμαρείτης δέ τις ὁδεύων ἦλθεν κατ’ αὐτὸν καὶ ἰδὼν ἐσπλαγχνίσθη,
Luke continued his unique story. Jesus said that a Samaritan (Σαμαρείτης), while traveling (δέ τις ὁδεύων), came near to this wounded man (ἦλθεν κατ’ αὐτὸν). When he saw him (καὶ ἰδὼν), he was moved with pity (ἐσπλαγχνίσθη). Who then is this Samaritan? Samaritans lived in Samaria, between Judea and Galilee. This was the territory that had been formerly assigned to Ephraim and Manasseh. The Samaritans were part of the former Northern Kingdom of Israel with the city of Samaria as their capital city, after the death of Solomon. There was an example of kindness by the northern tribes in 2 Chronicles, chapter 28:12-15, but that was long before the bitterness set in between Samaria and Judea. Over time, since the 8th century BCE, they had become a distinct ethnic group that was in dispute with the Judean Jews, since the territory of Samaria was between Judea and Galilee. They became bitter enemies with the Jews of Judea in particular. Luke showed Jesus interacting with the Samaritans more than any of the other gospel writers. Luke had uniquely mentioned that Jesus had gone into some Samaritan villages in chapter 9:52-56. It might even be questioned, why would this Samaritan be on the road between Jericho and Jerusalem? Nevertheless, this unnamed Samaritan like the unnamed priest and Levite, came on the scene. Unlike the other two prominent Jewish religious leaders, this Samaritan was moved with pity. Samaritans were the underclass among the Judeans. They worshiped a false Jewish God with their Samaritan Torah at the destroyed Mount Gerizim. They were not at the top of Jewish society, quite the opposite. Can someone at the bottom of a society do anything good?
Luke had a simple solution to this problem in his unique story of Jesus on the way to Jerusalem in Samaria. They simply went on to another Samaritan village that might be more hospitable. Luke said that Jesus traveled on (καὶ ἐπορεύθησαν) to another village (εἰς ἑτέραν κώμην). However, a Byzantine text had Jesus say that the Son of Man (ὁ γὰρ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) had not come to destroy human life (οὐκ ἦλθεν ψυχὰς ἀνθρώπων ἀπολέσαι), but to save it (ἀλλὰ σῶσαι). Thus, this little adventure into Samaria that only Luke described came to an end. Have you ever been in an area where you were not well received?
Luke continued his unique story about this trip in Samaria. He noted that Jesus’ disciples (δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ), James and John (Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάνης), the Zebedee brothers, the sons of thunder, saw (ἰδόντες) what this village did. They asked Jesus (καὶ Ἰωάνης εἶπαν), calling him Lord (Κύριε), if he wanted them (θέλεις) to call down fire (εἴπωμεν πῦρ) from heaven (ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ) in order to consume them (καὶ ἀναλῶσαι αὐτούς). Elijah, in 2 Kings, chapter 1:9-16, called down fire to consume the 100 messengers of the northern Israelite King of Samaria, King Ahaziah. Did John and James want to do something like that? Have you ever been so mad that you wanted to destroy some people?
Now there was a note of discord here. Luke continued his unique story of Jesus traveling through Samaria, on his way to Jerusalem. Luke noted that the people of this Samaritan town did not want to receive Jesus (καὶ οὐκ ἐδέξαντο αὐτόν), because he was only passing by on his way to Jerusalem (εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ). These Samaritans did not look favorably on the Jerusalem pilgrims who passed by their towns on the way to the Temple. After all, Jesus had steadfastly set his face (ὅτι τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ἦν πορευόμενον) to go there, not stopping or staying to worship at Mount Gerizim in Samaria. Thus, Jesus was not welcome, if he was going to the Judean place of worship in Jerusalem, and just visiting or passing through here. Would you be upset if someone said that they were planning to visit someone else but just stopped by?
Luke uniquely had this story about the Samaritan villages, since Mark and Matthew had Jesus not go into Samaria, but pass over to the other side of the Jordan on the east bank of the Jordan River. Luke said that Jesus sent messengers (καὶ ἀπέστειλεν ἀγγέλους) ahead of him or before his face (πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ), that would have been normal for a traveling large group. On their way (καὶ πορευθέντες), they entered (εἰσῆλθον) a village of the Samaritans (εἰς κώμην Σαμαρειτῶν), to make things ready for Jesus (ὥστε ἑτοιμάσαι αὐτῷ). The Samaritans were part of the former northern kingdom of Israel with Samaria their capital. However, over time, since the 8th century BCE, they had become a distinct ethnic group that was in dispute with the Judean Jews, since the territory of Samaria was between Judea and Galilee. Luke, like here, showed Jesus interacting with the Samaritans more than any of the other gospel writers. Have you ever told people that you were just passing by on your way to some place else?
Luke said that when the days drew near (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ συμπληροῦσθαι τὰς ἡμέρας) for Jesus to be taken up (τῆς ἀναλήμψεως αὐτοῦ), he steadfastly set his face (καὶ αὐτὸς τὸ πρόσωπον ἐστήρισεν τοῦ) to go to Jerusalem (πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ). Jesus’ move from Galilee to Judea can also be found in Matthew, chapter 19:1-2, and Mark, chapter 10:1, with Matthew closer to Mark, who said that Jesus left that place, presumably Galilee. He went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. Thus, Jesus moved south towards Jerusalem. However, he traveled on the other eastern side of the Jordan River, so that he did not have to go into Samaria, just the opposite as here in Luke. Mark, like Matthew, emphasized the crowds that gathered around Jesus. Just as in Galilee, Jesus again began to teach the people in Judea. Mark had Jesus teaching the crowds instead of healing these people, as in Matthew. Matthew said that when Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea, beyond the Jordan. Thus, Jesus moved south towards Jerusalem. However, he traveled on the other side of the Jordan River, on the east side of Jordan, so that he did not have to go into Samaria. He definitely was leaving Galilee. Luke was more definitive on where he was going, since he steadfastly set his face towards Jerusalem. Have you ever decided to go some place?
Luke tried to set the public activities of John and Jesus within a larger historical context. Thus, here he said that it was the 15th year of the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος). Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος). Herod was the tetrarch ruler of Galilee (καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου,). Herod’s brother Philip was the tetrarch ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis (Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας), while Lysanias was the tetrarch ruler of Abilene (καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος). Who and what is this all about? Tiberius was the Roman Emperor from 14-37 CE. 15 years into his rule would be the year 29 CE. Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea, but also Samaria to the north, and Idumea to the south, from 26-36 CE, so that this time frame is consistent. Herod Antipas and Philip were the sons of Herod the Great (37-4 BC). Herod Antipas ruled as tetrarch of northern Galilee and Perea that was east of the Jordan River from 4 BCE-39 CE. His brother Philip ruled Ituraea and Trachonitis that were north of Galilee from 4 BCE-34 CE. Finally, some unknown leader named Lysanias ruled as the tetrarch of Abilene that was north of Damascus, but included Lebanon. Thus, these were all the rulers of the area where John and Jesus might have traveled within this time frame
This move from Galilee to Judea can also be found in Matthew, chapter 19:1-2, and Luke, chapter 9:51. Mark said that Jesus rose up and left that place (Καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ἀναστὰς), presumably Galilee. He went to the region of Judea (ἔρχεται εἰς τὰ ὅρια τῆς Ἰουδαίας) and beyond the Jordan (καὶ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου). Thus, Jesus moved south towards Jerusalem. However, he traveled on the other eastern side of the Jordan River, so that he did not have to go into Samaria. He definitely was leaving Galilee. Mark, like Matthew, emphasized the crowds that gathered around Jesus again (καὶ συνπορεύονται πάλιν ὄχλοι πρὸς αὐτόν). Just as in Galilee, as was his custom (καὶ ὡς εἰώθει), Jesus again began to teach (πάλιν ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς), the people in these crowds in Judea. Mark had Jesus teaching the crowds instead of healing these people, as in Matthew.