The following is a reflection. I would not take it to the bank as a solid exegesis to the passage, but upon reading it I could not help but reflect upon what set apart one leper from the rest: his reliance upon Christ alone.
While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:11-19).
Jesus healed 10 lepers. Nine of them went their way. One was convinced it was his lucky day. The second thought that the medicine he was taking must have finally worked. The third thought he finally gained immunity to the skin disease. The fourth felt it was about time he was healed, he did more good than bad and surely did not deserve further affliction. And all nine had a similar excuse.
The Samaritan remembers praying to God for healing for years without ceasing. When Christ healed him and ordered him to go to the priest as a testimony, he initially went out of obedience. Then, he felt overcome with a mixture of emotions. Sadness because of his sin–he didn’t deserve to be healed. Gratitude for the miracle–he did nothing to deserve the healing. Amazement because of God’s faithfulness–for God answered his prayers.
So, he returned to Christ and worshiped Him as God, giving thanks for His faithfulness and grace. Christ, using this man’s life as a testimony to us just as all of these lepers were healed to be a testimony of the priests spoke thusly: “Your faith has made you well.”
Nine men were healed, but trusted in their works and died in their sins. Their healing merely was a testimony to the priests that someone greater than Elijah had come and He had the authority to forgive sins. The last, the Samaritan, was healed because he had faith in God. For, faith in God heals our spiritual affliction just as it healed his outward affliction. Hallelujah!