Jump Start # 3454
Luke 17:18-19 “Then Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine– where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?’”
We have been looking at the subject of prayer lately. Praying is something all of us can do. Not all can preach, nor should they. Not all can sing well. Not all can teach. But we all can pray, the little ones as well as the big ones.
Our verse today does not specifically mention prayer, but it can be found there. Ten lepers. One of them was a Samaritan. Most times you’d never find Jews standing around with a Samaritan. They didn’t like each other. But their sickness, needs and looming death, has brought them together. They have become brothers in death. Jesus is journeying to Jerusalem for His own appointment with death. These lepers call out. They want mercy. Never too busy to help someone, Jesus tells them to go and show themselves to the priest. That statement implies something was going to happen. Why show yourself to a priest if you are still a leper. That disease was much more than a medical problem. It was layered deeply with social issues. This is why these ten are together. They cannot go home. They cannot go to the market place. They cannot go to work. Sick and cast out and likely to die was their fate. But Jesus tells them to go to the priest.
As they leave, they are healed. Feeling and color return to their feet and hands. White spots disappear. The disease that had no cure has been cured. They have been given life. One of these ten, the Samaritan, leaves the others and returns to Jesus. He falls to Jesus’ feet and thanks Him. Here is where our Lord asks about the others. “Were there not ten cleansed?” Where are the nine? Where are they?
And, right here, we must look in the mirror and wonder how many times we have hurried away from Jesus, with a prayer answered, with forgiveness granted, with hope restored, and failed to return to thank Him.
Some thoughts for us:
First, some who we might think are the farthest from Jesus, do better than those who are the nearest to Him. It is obvious that the nine who failed to return were Jewish. They were off to see their priest. They must have heard things about Jesus and that’s why they beg Him for mercy. They had the temple. They had priests. They had the law. But they didn’t have a thankful heart. They got what they wanted, mercy. But they never returned to thank the Lord.
Are we to suppose that they were not thankful? Were they saying to one another, ‘Bummer. Now, I’ll have to go to work.’ Doubt it, really doubt it. They just never said it. Oh, one could think, “Jesus knows that they are thankful.” But the nine never said it. Jesus asked about the nine. It is important to say it.
Some who do not walk closely with Jesus can teach us things. This Samaritan got it right.
Second, the thankful heart expresses gratitude through prayer. It expresses gratitude by taking care of things. What’s important to God ought to be important to us. We need to take care of God’s word and God’s people and the worship to God. These things are special. The thankful heart realizes what wonderful blessings have come from God. The thankful heart understands that these blessings were not deserved. God’s love and grace are sprinkled on top of His blessings.
One of the ways we show our love back to the Lord is by being thankful. Where would we be without the Lord? When some of the followers were leaving Jesus, the Lord asked the apostles if they too were going to leave. Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Third, did the Lord wonder, “I changed the lives for those nine lepers and none of them gave glory to God.” Yet, does Jesus say that about us? I forgave them, yet they take that for granted. I gave them health, and they did not honor me.
The kindness of the Lord kept those nine cleansed. Jesus easily could have said, “Since you didn’t thank Me, I’ll put the leprosy back in you.” Jesus isn’t like that. And, for the one lone thankful leper, the Samaritan, he was granted a special blessing. As the story ends, Jesus tells the Samaritan, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” Wasn’t he already well now? Wasn’t the leprosy gone? Was Jesus referring to their cry for mercy as He walked by, or, perhaps, Jesus extended another blessing just to this thankful Samaritan. The “wellness” may well have been forgiveness. All ten were healed in the body, but only the Samaritan was healed in the soul. He was thankful and Jesus recognized that and appreciated that.
A thankful Samaritan. He teaches us so much.