As we enter the season of thanksgiving, I love the emphasis on remembering, being aware of the little things, the falling leaves, slivers of sunshine and raindrops of life. We talk of the blessings of family, home and provisions. The intentional pause to reflect on all we have brings us to remember the Giver.
“…As He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” (Luke 17:12-13; NJKV)
It’s a great passage (Luke 17:11-19) to reflect on during this season of thanksgiving, not just because of its reminder to be thankful, but because of our constant need to recognize a Sovereign God in everyday life.
Why did only one leper thank Jesus, and what made him turn around and go back to Jesus? I cannot read this story without wondering which leper I would be.
Ten lepers shared a fear-filled common denominator. They were sick, outcasts of society and on a road to death. Their futures were dark. Yet in their similarities, each had a different story, like all of us do. Some undoubtedly lost families and positions. Jobs, prestige and respectability were gone.
One of them was a Samaritan. Bad blood flowed between the Jews and Samaritans. Partly Jewish and partly Gentile, they weren’t accepted by either.
But Jesus, went out of His way to extend love to them. Once to meet the woman at the well and offer living water, another time to be so snubbed his disciples wished to call down fire from heaven on the town. (Luke 9:51-56)
That day Jesus entered the village between Samaria and Galilee on His way to Jerusalem.
“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us,” He heard them call from a distance.
Perhaps the ten lepers had heard Jesus fed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, or that he raised a little girl to life. Maybe they knew he calmed waves and cast out demons.
Can you imagine the longing within as He turned toward them? Can you picture their excitement of getting His attention from where they stood grouped like their own little leper colony, unable to get too close? Can you feel the hope in their hearts?
“Go,” Jesus instructed, “show yourselves to the priests.”
“As they went,” healing occurred.
Their skin turned smooth. The putrid flesh of their companions cleared. Can you envision ten former lepers, lifting limbs, looking, shouting and pointing at one another, hurrying on their way to the temple. The miracle they’d hoped for happened.
But one of them stopped and turned back.
He was a Samaritan, an outcast among the outcasts. Surely he too looked at his feet, his hands. Undoubtedly he turned his palms up and over, and again up and over. I imagine him looking ahead to where the others ran to freedom and then turning to look behind at the figure of Christ, by whom healing originated. While nine became smaller in the distance ahead, one man “when he saw that he was healed, returned and with a loud voice glorified God.” Luke 17:15 (NKJV).
Which are you?
I want to be like that one man. I want His glory to shout from my redeemed heart to a world where His name is unknown. The leper responded in the only way possible in the presence of such magnitude.
“…And fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks”
True gratitude produces profound humility.
True gratitude recognizes the Person as greater than the miracle.
“Weren’t there ten cleansed?” Jesus asked. “Where are the nine?”
Forgetting to thank Jesus for healing demonstrated a skin deep change. The other nine, enamored with their physical healing neglected the healing of a much more important sort. They disregarded Him who had the power to heal not just physical bodies, but give spiritual life as well.
Without Christ our souls are diseased. We are without hope, like the Samaritan leper, needing spiritual healing to remove the stain of sin from corrupted hearts.
Ten were healed. But to the Samaritan, more than physical healing occurred.
“…Your faith has made you well.” Jesus said.
The Thanksgiving season is a great time to count our blessings and name them one by one. It’s a time to say “thank you Jesus for healing my soul,” to back up and remember the Giver who transformed our hearts. Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful time to share with families and neighbors the testimony of redemption. For that truly is the greatest of all miracles.
True thanksgiving transforms hearts.