Luke 17:11-19 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
Ingratitude. Original sin. Forgetful heart. Jesus faced the lack of gratitude from others. Is there anything more annoying than doing for someone and not even getting a “kiss my foot?” We all want to be appreciated or at least acknowledge that what I did was not required and you are the lucky recipient of my generosity. (My sarcasm rising again, sorry.) We appreciate appreciation, do we not?
This point of remembrance must have left a big impression on Dr. Luke who records this for us. Lepers: The outcasts of society, shunned from life within the city. These are the ignored, despised, rejected, and the picture of sin and it’s effects: starts small and spreads causing pain and disfigurement. There are ten of these sufferers. A group who because of their disease have lost the concern of “where did you come from?”, among themselves. Galileans and Samaritans living together, sharing their pain, fear and loneliness.
Jesus comes into town. Standing away from the crowd, but with voices desperate to be heard they shout. Why? Why are these the “unworthy” (like me) shouting out to Jesus? Have they heard the tales of the one who heals, raises the dead, walks on water, and calms storms? They have NOTHING to lose. What is the worst that can happen? To be ignored? Well, that would be just another day. Why not at least try. Here is a mustard seed of faith. Let’s at least ask! “Jesus, MASTER, have mercy on us.” Master? Really? Are they pledging allegiance beforehand? Heal me and I will do whatever you ask. Have you ever said that before? The cry of a mother at a hospital bedside, the plea of a father to his child not make the wrong choice, the “let’s make a deal” of the one caught in sin or in a situation capable of causing life as they know it to change. I have heard these desperate cries. The Greek for the word cries is krazo means to scream out and kraugazo means to clamor. These ten individuals are clamoring for the attention of One who IS their last hope for healing. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It is time to go for broke.
Jesus saw them! It does not say he heard them. He SAW them. He saw these enslaved by their diseased bodies and He saw individuals. The only thing Luke records is Jesus told them what to do. No questions asked. Just “go show yourselves to the priests.” Lepers were not suppose to go until they were healed. They were not healed until they WENT! Can you imagine what it took to start toward the priests with their skin still covered in sores, nubs for fingers and toes, noses missing, bodies racked with pain, and rags covering their frail bodies?
As they traveled, Luke says they were cleansed. The requirement to be accepted by the priests: Cleansed. Let this word really reach in and touch your heart. CLEANSED! No longer dirty. Able to go to the temple. Able to go home. Able to live inside the city. Able to be included. Able. Able. Able. No longer unable, unworthy, unwanted. Joy unspeakable!
Remember the Master? One healed leper alone returned to proclaim loudly “thank you!” One alone gave glory to God for the healing! One alone returned and he was a Samaritan! A foreigner. One, and Jesus had not even come for the Samaritans but for the Jews. (Matthew 15:24)
“Thanksgiving precedes the miracle.” Words written and published in a book that revolutionized my life. It’s author said, “gratitude is the memory of the heart.” This Samaritan remembered the before and saw the after of his encounter with Jesus. Nine did not. Nine forgot their before and gained healing but not life. The next line in Luke’s gospel is vital to our comprehension of this encounter. “Your faith has made you well.” All ten were cleansed but only one was made WELL! Gratitude equals faith. Gratitude redeems.
Ingratitude left nine still outside the gate of heaven. Jesus gave the same gift to all ten! He gives ALL the gift of invitation but only a few will accept. He paid for all. But not all give Him thanks for His gift. I wonder, did Jesus become as annoyed as I at ingratitude. Was He tempted to withhold healing of another because of the ingratitude of these nine?
My oft quoted author, Ann Voskamp, writes, “humility (bowed knees and open hands) is the only posture that can receive the wondrous grace gifts of God.” The grateful former leper showed great humility as he fell on his face before Christ the redeemer of his life as he alone gave thanks for the grace given.
My friend and colleague, DeDe, and I found ourselves on a cold, rainy night searching the field behind the nursing home where we worked searching frantically for a missing resident. As the headlights scanned the field and we peered into the darkest dark hoping to spot a white turban, we prayed and we bartered with the Lord promising Him all kinds of things we knew we could not do if He would just help us find this lost soul. After what seemed like hours we got the call to come back…………………………….she had been found safe and warm inside the nursing home!!! Praise the Lord!! And before we got back we both did the very thing we promised never to do again. You can laugh! We did too in nervous relief and sheer thanksgiving!
Do you need a miracle? Have you been grateful for the thousands already given to you each and every day? “Thanksgiving precedes the miracle and the miracle is communion, koinonia” with the living Lord. The Master. We too can be clean. Washed in mercy. Well.
Clean by Natalie Grant
Treading in deep eucharisteo,
Dedicated to friendships forged in adversity.