Ever been at the end of your rope? Back against the wall, can’t see your way out, hope lost in a fog of circumstances? Can you think back to that time? Maybe you are in one of those seasons right now. Maybe you feel undone, unsure, and unable. We can all relate in some way to the ten lepers in Luke Ch 17. They too thought they were lost in a sea of hopelessness and pain.
Jesus left Galilee to return to Jerusalem for the last time. He and the disciples travelled on the edge of Samaria. The disciples didn’t like this area, and they didn’t like the scarecrow-like silhouettes shuffling in the dirt a short distance from the road. Lepers. Ragged, doomed, pitiful lepers. From the first appearance of the disease they were cut off from society. Now their clothes hung in tatters, and their skin hung on their bones no better. They had no hope, no help, and no future but death. If a person got close, these poor creatures were required to cry out “unclean, unclean” as a continual pronouncement of judgment upon themselves.
But here, off the road, these 10 lepers were crying something else. In Luke 11:13 the lepers cry out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
The disciples had seen Jesus touch a leper to heal him before, but this time Jesus simply calls back to the 10 hopeless shadows, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”
“Hmm, did he just say, “Go show yourselves to the priests?” That’s what we’re supposed to do after we are healed. But this Jesus just told us to go without being healed.” That must have caused quite a debate among these fringe dwellers. Some, maybe most, were Jews. At least one was a Samaritan. And these two groups didn’t get along at all. But somehow, probably after much debate, they all turned to begin a long, slow shuffle to the temple and the priests.
Then verse 14 says, “And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.”
Now, right there is a big enough lesson to learn, that the Lord works in our lives as
we obey Him. A good lesson for sure, but not the M.I.P. (most important point). To learn the most important point, we should first return to that time when we were down on our luck, out of options, without hope or help in this world. Maybe we cried out to God, and, as we went, things began to change. Maybe our life, previously hanging in tatters, began to come back together, much like these lepers’ bodies. Maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but somehow things began to look up again.
Think back. Was our response like the one leper we meet in the next verse? Luke 11:15-16 says, “One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan."
Oh, to be grateful for all that God has done for us! To run back to God and pour out our heart of thanksgiving to Him. To fall before Him in adoration for all the goodness He has poured into our lives. Do we remember doing that? Are we still doing it? Is thanksgiving continually on our lips for all that God has given us and done for us?
Or maybe, if we were really honest, maybe we’re a bit more like the other 9 lepers. We never hear from those 9 again, and neither does Jesus. They’ve gone their way. They were happy to receive their miraculous blessing from God, but too preoccupied with the blessing to take time to thank the one who blessed them. In Luke 11:17-18 Jesus says, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”
Only the Samaritan, the foreigner, made a point of returning to give Jesus the thanksgiving he deserved. This one man knew that the giver of the gift was more important than the gift itself. The others remained too caught up in the gift to even return and thank the giver.
The saddest part of the story is the final verse. Jesus had wanted to say these words to all 10, but only one heard them. Luke 11:19, “And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”
The more literal translation is, “Your faith has saved you.”
You see, there was an eternal spiritual gift that Jesus wanted to give all 10 of these outcasts. It was the real gift, the ultimate gift. And while the other 9 enjoyed their physical, and temporal, blessing, only one received the ultimate eternal blessing Jesus really wanted to give.
Is thanksgiving more than just a polite response? Is it possible that remaining thankful to the Lord for all He’s given us is actually a key to a correct relationship with Him? The Bible says it absolutely is. Let’s be sure we are as thankful to the Lord for all He’s given us, as the One in Ten was.
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