On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up 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 went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” – Luke 17:11-19
As I reflect on this passage this Thanksgiving Day, one truth jumps out at me. I am one of the nine. I know, I’m probably supposed to look at this passage and resolve to be like the one leper who comes back praising Jesus in the spirit of thanksgiving for all that Jesus has done for him. I could even focus on gift of faith this one leper was granted and examine the real, complete healing he received at the end. But, that’s not who I can relate with in this account.
Today, I look at the other nine lepers. In fact, I think I can conclude that I am one of them. Yes, I am one of the nine. I don’t give thanks as I ought. Though I acknowledge God as the author of all things and affirm his sovereign control of my life, I am sinfully ungracious and constantly fail to recognize the all the grace I have been so lavishly given.
That’s exactly where these nine lepers were. They recognized Jesus’ authority. When he comes by, they call out to Him as “Master.” They ask for His mercy. They know who Jesus is, at least to some extent. These are not mere pagans selfishly demanding all they can get out this rube that’s being taken advantage of. These are humble men who failed to focus on the Lord who rescued them from their terrible lot. Just like me…
But, here’s what I find incredibly remarkable – Jesus still healed them. He knew they would be ungrateful. He knew they would not turn back. He knew they would be more interested in receiving a confirmation from the priest than giving thanks to God for their healing. Yet, He healed them anyway. God healed ungrateful men. Not only was God willing to converse with these vile men ravaged with a disgusted disease, He was willing to converse with men He knew would not immediately appreciate all He would do for them. This is the God Kevin Thompson so desperately needs.
I would like to think that at some point these other lepers came back to Jesus. I would like to think that at some point, perhaps after meeting with the priest, that these men were convicted their lack of gratitude and became overwhelmed at all that God had done for them. I do know that the same God who healed them would also be more than willing to forgive them. That’s the God I serve and love.
Thank you, Lord, for dealing with people like me.