WERE THERE NOT 9?
"And Jesus answered and said, 'Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine--where are they? Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?'" Luke 17:17-18
In Luke 17, we read the story of the ten lepers. These ten had the dreaded, disfiguring disease, leprosy, that made a person unclean, unfit for society, and virtually subhuman. The tremendous physical toll inflicted by this incurable disease was only surpassed by the great emotional toll of feeling worthless, vile, and unlovable.
When these men saw Jesus, they cried out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" (Luke 17:13). Jesus responded with compassion and a challenge, telling them to show themselves to the priests. This was a reference to Leviticus 14 which contains instructions regarding the cleansing of a leper under Jewish law.
Luke 17:15 says, "As they were going, they were cleansed" (Luke 17:14). Do you see that? "AS THEY WERE GOING, they were cleansed." That's always the way it works with faith. You have to believe God's Word enough to obey it. When you take a step of faith, then you see God do miracles.
Can you imagine the overwhelming exhilaration these healed lepers must have felt? Their leprosy was cleansed! The vile disease that had taken virtually everything from them was now gone! They could return to their families! They could return to society! They could really live again! They were no longer outcasts!
Nine of them scurried away to enjoy their great blessing. But one turned back. It is significant to note her that this one was a hated Samaritan. Remember that, according to the Jews, Samaritans were the scum of the earth.
But, this Samaritan was also overcome with emotion at his cleansing, and he wanted to give thanks and praise to the One who made it possible. He couldn't resist taking the opportunity to glorify God by going back to Jesus and expressing his sincere gratitude for this exceptional gift of allowing him to return to a life of normalcy. And the Lord responded to his thanksgiving by assuring him that his faith had make him whole again.
Jesus was wondering aloud about the other nine healed lepers. Where were they? Where was their thankful heart? Why was this "foreigner" the only one whose gratefulness brought him back to hank the only one who could have performed this miracle of healing?
This opens up a question we might ponder in our own lives. Why do we experience so many times the goodness of God, and so seldom return to the giver of healing, mercy, and salvation with grateful thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving can be a difficult sometimes. It may seem to be a sacrifice. Life can be cruel and hard. Circumstances can knock us down and leave us without hope or the will to go on. If we are not careful, we can easily become disillusioned, depressed, critical, cynical, and bitter. When those attitudes infiltrate our lives, thankfulness will be forced out of the realm of possibility.
Let us challenge ourselves to be like the Samaritan in this story and give thanks, first and foremost. Let us not rest, or continue on our way, without first returning to the Master to give Him praise and thanksgiving for His great gifts