When I read this passage, I’d like to hear the inflection that Jesus gave to these words. “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?” The inflection of the words makes a considerable impact on the meaning of the reading as heard, and would tell us much about Jesus’ reaction to the healing of the lepers.
What the widow in the Luke parable wants from the judge is vengeance or vindication. True, some have translated the original into something more polite such as “give the verdict to my side” or “give me justice.” Well, it is true the widow wanted justice done, and to her benefit. But it seems she wanted more.
In Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus there is no wiggle room. Deeds are done and lives led, and there are consequences for each of the three characters—the rich man, Lazarus and Father Abraham. No matter what each of them wishes, desires or hopes, the matter is finished.
Jesus is reported to have said, “The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force” (Luke 16:16).
The sins revealed in these first three scripture passages are blockbusters—betrayal, idolatry, adultery and violence—the raw material for larger-than-life stories and films. The Bible does not whitewash the sins of its major characters. Their awful failures and wrongdoings are part of the story, as are the human consequences, divine judgment and forgiveness.