The only one who returned to praise God
As we see from the previous verses, this is one of the ten men who approached Jesus to be healed of their leprosy. Jesus sent them off to make an offering at the Altar of God, and this one man returned, healed, praising God.
So why does Jesus ask him to "rise and go"?
Because when the man returned, he fell at Jesus' feet. He laid his body prostate at the feet of Jesus and thanked him:
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:15-16)Thus we find this devotional practice - of laying the body prostrate or bowing and touching the head on the ground - to be an act that expresses devotion.
In fact, we see this activity throughout the Gospels and the Old Testament, as the devoted bowed or laid prostrate at the feet of their teacher and also prostrated or bowed down in front of the Altar of God.
So why don't sectarian teachers teach their students to bow? Or themselves bow? We find that most of the sectarian institutions that claim to be following Jesus do not participate in this simple act of humble devotion - despite the fact that Jesus' students did this, and this was the ancient tradition.
Over the centuries bowing has fallen out of favor. While they maintain their interpretations of Jesus' teachings as correct, they do not have the humility to do what this simple man has done as he worshiped Jesus - and obviously pleased Jesus with this activity of bowing - as well as praising the Supreme Being. Teachers within today's sectarian institutions prefer to make their prayers standing up with folded hands and sometimes by kneeling on specially made benches. But we find they do not lay prostrate nor bow their heads to the ground in humble prayer.
How important is this?
The ritual in itself is not that important. What is important is humility. Feeling oneself as unimportant - the feeling of humility. The act of bowing, if it is done from the heart - expresses the feeling of being the servant of God.
Yes, this is symbolic. And certainly, a person can bow down or lie prostate while at the same time thinking oneself to be a great person. Nonetheless, the activity can influence our consciousness - as we might ask ourselves whether we should bow, and why. In other words, it can encourage humility - especially when done in privacy.
The biggest point is that it communicates to God His importance to us.
Jesus states here that this humble devotion - this "faith" - ultimately healed the man (yes, his soul was healed, as well as his body).
Notice that Jesus didn't say "Rise and go - I have healed you." Jesus could have certainly said this. But this would not be correct because, in reality, it was the Supreme Being that was healing people.
What was Jesus doing then?
One might compare this to a lightning rod. A lightning rod is set up in order to attract lightning and then become a conduit for the electricity that the lightning conducts. Lightning rods are often used to divert lightning strikes from a house or otherwise. Of course, holding a lightning rod might well get someone electrocuted.
The Supreme Being also uses conduits to communicate to us: To teach us. These come in the form of His representative.
Jesus admitted being in this capacity, not only in this statement, but among many other actions and statements.
When Jesus says that "your faith has healed you" does he mean their faith in him? Why would they need to believe in Jesus anyway? Jesus was standing in front of them. Certainly, they believed in Jesus' existence.
Rather, Jesus is speaking of their faith in the Supreme Being, who sent Jesus:
“Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the One who sent me." (John 12:44)
"For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken." (John 12:49)
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 17:6)
“Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but He who sent me is true. You do not know Him, but I know Him because I am from Him and He sent me.” (John 7:28-29)
"These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." (John 14:44)
"The One who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:29)Thus we can see the roles, and the motivation behind Jesus' continuing to work on behalf of the Supreme Being: Because Jesus loves the Supreme Being. This is why Jesus worked so hard to please the Supreme Being.
And this is why Jesus allowed his body to be tortured and persecuted: Because he loves the Supreme Being and wanted to please God.
Why did God allow Jesus to be persecuted?
We find many will question why God allowed Jesus to be persecuted and murdered. They want to blame God - or they say that God cannot exist because if He did exist, why would he have allowed His beloved Jesus to die on the cross?
This question is of critical importance, and it relates to the entire picture of our relationship with the Supreme Being as well as Jesus' relationship with the Supreme Being.
First of all, if God had stepped in and prevented Jesus from being persecuted, He would, in essence, be taking away the freedom of both Jesus and those who persecuted Jesus.
Freedom lies at the core of our relationship with the Supreme Being. If we did not have the freedom to reject Him, could we have the freedom to love Him?
In fact, love requires freedom. If a person in any way coerces someone to love them, then whatever comes from that coercion could not possibly be love.
Let's say, for example, that a cruel dictator jails 1,000 people and tells them that if they do not love the dictator they will get gassed and buried alive. Would the people love the dictator? Of course not. Surely, many will pretend to love the dictator in order to avoid dying. But they cannot be forced to actually love this person who threatened they will die unless they love him.
In the same way, we cannot be forced to love God under threat of eternal damnation. We surely might pretend to love Him. But that wouldn't really be love, would it?
One must be given the freedom to love in order to truly love. And the freedom to love also requires the freedom not to love - and the freedom to hate or reject.
In other words, if those who persecuted Jesus were not given the freedom to persecute Jesus, God would not be giving them the freedom to love Him or not. Their freedom to reject God's representative would be taken away.
This also goes for Jesus. If God took away Jesus' opportunity to make the ultimate sacrifice; that would effectively take away Jesus' freedom to serve God in that capacity of sacrifice.
Only fanatics try to force people to worship God
Many sectarian institutions and their teachers do not understand this. They want to take people's freedom away and try to force them - or threaten them - to get them to join their church. This is why for centuries the Roman Catholic institution persecuted those who did not join their church. They would burn at the stake or imprison those who worshiped otherwise.
Were they successful at influencing people to love the Supreme Being as Jesus instructed? No. They might have gotten millions of people to join their institution under threat of persecution - but this would not have influenced people to love God.
Don't you think that if God wanted to force us to join a certain religion or follow Jesus then He could do it in a heartbeat? Certainly, He could. But He doesn't. Why? Because He wants our love, and love requires the freedom of choice.
Furthermore, by allowing Jesus to accept his persecution at the hands of those who were trying to force people to worship the way they did, the Supreme Being allowed each of us a glimpse into the loving relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being.
Jesus never died
After all, we must remember that Jesus also taught that we are not killed when the body is killed:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28)Jesus confirms that neither he nor any of is are these temporary physical bodies. The fact that Jesus left his body at the time of death was confirmed in other verses, including:
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)This confirms - along with many other verses - that Jesus was not his physical body. This means that Jesus was not killed on the cross. Rather, Jesus' body was killed. Once the body was killed, he simply left that body and returned to the spiritual realm (after reappearing to his disciples) as he promised:
“I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the One who sent me." (John 7:33)This means that while God did allow those who wanted to persecute Jesus their freedom, they were not actually able to get to the person of Jesus. They only maimed his temporary body.
Furthermore, the Supreme Being allowed Jesus to make the greatest sacrifice. This allowed Jesus to stand firm on his teachings - the Word of God. Yes, Jesus was persecuted because of his teachings. His executioners wanted Jesus to disavow his teachings. And Jesus wouldn't. He stood behind his teachings. Thus Jesus' sacrifice was specific to his service to God.
Jesus' sacrifice not only had the effect of delivering Jesus back home to the spiritual realm: It also gave each of us a window into the relationship between Jesus and God.
It allows us to see just how much Jesus loves the Supreme Being. How much he was willing to sacrifice to please Him. And just how much Jesus loves each of us to show us the importance of his teachings, and his relationship with God.
Jesus' commitment showed in his prayer just before he allowed himself to be arrested (yes, Jesus could have run off into the wilderness and avoided arrest, but he didn't):
“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.” (Matt. 26:42)Seeing this part of Jesus' relationship with God - his committed devotion to God - is what saves us. Sectarian teachers like to say that Jesus' dying on the cross can save us, but they are lying.
They are lying because Jesus never died on the cross. Plus it is not just his persecution - or the cross itself - that can save us:
It is understanding the sheer extent of the love that Jesus has for the Supreme Being - to the degree that Jesus would make this ultimate, painful and agonizing sacrifice - that can save us. Should we make that choice.