10 Lepers and the gift of thankfulness

Jesus encounters 10 lepers.

Luke 17:11-19

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers

11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus[a] was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers[b] approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’[c] feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

These 10 met Jesus, and standing at the required distance, shouted: “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”.

Jesus sees them.

He tells them to do what is required of cured lepers.

They need a certificate from a priest that they were cured.

Then, and only then, could they return to normal society, to family, to home.

And as they were headed for Jerusalem to see the priest, they were cured!

The disease was gone.

More importantly their isolation, their separation from society and family and home was ended.

There is no indication that all ten were not thankful.

There is no indication that all ten were not elated that their ordeal was over.

But, only one returns to say thank you to Jesus.

The other nine did nothing wrong.

In fact, they did exactly as they were told and presumably also enjoyed healing.

But, the one who returns, a Samaritan no less, acknowledges Jesus as the one who has brought him healing.

You see it is possible to be grateful and thankful for what we have without acknowledging God as the provider of the blessings we have.

Many people are thankful, in their own ways.

If people stop and think about it they would acknowledge they are are thankful for family–spouse, child, parents, friends.

Or they happy for the circumstances in which we find themselves for home and shelter, freedom from illness, or the freedoms they enjoy in our country.

But, not everyone connects those blessings as gifts from God, and as a result there thankfulness stops short of thanking God.

But, the Samaritan makes the connection.

And he is blessed a second time.

After asking where the other nine are, Jesus tells the Samaritan, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

The word for “well” here is a complex Greek word that has layers of meaning.

Jesus tells the Samaritan not only physically well, but also whole and, indeed, saved.

The Samaritan receives the blessing of physical healing like the other nine, but he also receives the blessing that comes from recognizing blessing and giving thanks TO JESUS — the blessings, that is, of wholeness and even salvation.

Reflection written by Lloyd Menke


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