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Luke 17:12-19 says: “As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’
‘When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed.
‘One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
‘Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’”
Luke gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ heart here in this story about some men who were healed of a dreadful disease, and quickly forget to return and praise God for their new found disease-free life. Don’t let the fact that the men are suffering from the socially crippling disease of leprosy, which isn’t nearly as prevalent today in our communities as it was then, distract you from the significance of Jesus’ response.
Jesus is surprised that all 10 approached him and were asking for healing, and yet only one returned to give thanks to The Great Physician after they were healed.
It’s important to note that all of them approached Jesus from a distance, called out to him, and essentially asked Him to heal them. It’s a subtle indication within the story that the men saw a potentially different life if only Jesus would, “have pity on them.”
I struggle with the fact that I am capable of fitting into that story. In fact, we can all probably insert ourselves into that story in place of the desperate lepers. I think it is a good reminder of how easy it is to draw near to God in a time of desperation, to summon the Creator of the universe with pleas, requests and promises, and then after that time of desperation subsides, to forget we ever approached Him in the first place. If we look hard enough, reflect long enough, we’re probably guilty of looking like one of the nine — forgetting to be grateful.
We should be grateful toward God and his goodness… daily — not just in the times of desperation. There are so many ways that we can praise God, celebrate his goodness, and simply return to Him and thank Him for his faithfulness to us and our families. It’s too easy to look like the ungrateful lepers who had their request and prayers answered with a miraculous healing, and only after being healed, forgetting to thank the Healer. May we be mindful of every blessing that we have, ever so small and subtle, giving thanks to God the Father for the lives we have come to know. May we be like a grateful leper.
Psalm 105 says: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”
The Rev. Jay Montgomery is youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Carrollton.