The One who Went Back
By Debbonnaire Kovacs, 10-6-16
Based on Luke 17:11-19 and my imagination.
“Yeshua! You know, that wandering healer?”
“Of course I know. Everybody’s heard of him. But I doubt he’ll have anything to do with us.”
“He might! I’ve heard of him healing lepers before. Anyway, it’s worth asking.”
“That’s true. I’ll try anything. Okay, let’s go find him.”
I’ve had leprosy for several years now. Some of those in our little band of ten have had it even longer. It never seems to quite kill you. Saul is very old; doesn’t have a nose or any fingers now. But he’s still alive. Kind of.
Of course, there’s leprosy and then there’s leprosy. Some just have scaly skin. It never gets better either, though. I do remember one guy who was only with us for a while. He got better and went to the priests, and they made him wait a week, and eventually he got to go home. I’ve never been so bitterly envious of anyone in my life.
I haven’t touched my children since they were little. Sometimes I hide behind a building from which I can see the marketplace. Leah has a baby now. I watched her belly grow round, her face glow. She was gone for a while, and then showed up with a bundle. I’ve never seen the baby. I’ll have to wait until it’s big enough to be out of its wrappings.
I don’t even know if it’s a boy or a girl.
My wife knows I go there. She looks my way and our eyes meet. I can’t stand the sorrow, so sometimes I don’t go for months at a time. I’ve only gone so frequently lately because of Leah and the baby.
We’ve reached the edge of the village. Of course, we’re staying well off the beaten path.
Jonas grabs my arm. “There!” He points down the dusty road leading toward Galilee. “There’s a group of people. I bet that’s him!”
Anxiously, we huddle together, away to the side of the entrance to the village. As the small group comes nearer, we can see that there is a central figure the others seem to look at and be interested in. It’s someone with a group of disciples, at any rate. You can tell by their attitudes. We can’t tell if it’s Yeshua or not, yet.
They come closer, and the man in the center of the group looks our way. To my surprise, I am the one who calls out, as if the words won’t stay inside me, “Yeshua! Master! Have mercy on us!”
I can feel Jonas’ hand gripping my arm so tightly it almost hurts. Benjamin, the Samaritan among us, falls to his knees, his hands over his face. I feel it—the longing, the sense of begging God, please, please…!
And the man veers in our direction. I can see his face. He has the eyes of an angel. “Go,” he says, and my heart sinks. But he continues, “show yourselves to the priests.”
To the priests? Bewildered, I share glances with the others.
“Like we’re healed?” murmurs Jonas.
“But we’re not healed!” I object.
Yeshua seems to be walking on.
“Like Naaman,” says Benjamin, clambering stiffly to his feet. “He was told to go wash.” He hobbles off as fast as his ruined feet will take him in the direction of the synagogue. Galvanized, we hurry after him. I glance back and think I catch a smile on Yeshua’s face.
A sudden cry makes me jump. Gibbering incoherently, Jonas is waving his hands before my face. I stop and stare at him, then hold up my own hands. Benjamin is jumping up and down on whole feet. The others swing in wild dances of joy and incredulity. We speed our pace toward the synagogue. My mind is drumming, “Must get to the priests. Must get to the priests.” Leah and the baby and my wife and my sons. Their faces jumble in my frenzied mind.
Benjamin knocks into me and I lose my balance and almost fall. “Where are you going?” I cry as he flies by in the direction we came from. I look after him, confused, and see him on his face at the feet of the Healer.
Something breaks in my heart.
I’ve always wondered, after they saw the Samaritan go back, did the rest go back, too? Or did any of them, even one? Also, they were, according to Luke, in “the region between Samaria and Galilee.” Was this the only Samaritan?
Just curious. A far more important question: have you thanked God today?
Debbonnaire Kovacs is a speaker and the author of 25 books and over 600 stories and articles for adults and children. To learn more about her work or ask her to speak at your organization, visit www.debbonnaire.com.