By Lisa Moore
We begin this chapter with Jesus and the disciples traveling to Jerusalem. They are passing between Samaria and Galilee, and stop to enter a village. There is a group of ten leprous men made up of both Jews and Samaritans. They see Jesus from a distance and call out to Him. Verse 14-17 tells us , "When He saw them, He said to them, 'Go and show yourselves to the priests.' And as they were going they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, 'Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine-where are they? Was no one found to give glory to God, except this foreigner?"
Many times I've found myself skimming over this miracle Jesus performed because I'm more focused on what is about to happen once Jesus enters Jerusalem. But when I actually slowed down and spent some time digging in deeper, I discovered the importance of having a faith filled with gratitude.
How wretched those men were. Because of their leprosy the only people they could associate with was other lepers. They were shunned. They could go nowhere near their friends, their loved ones, or even their synagogue. When people looked at them they were automatically assumed to have been cursed by God. What a miserable, painful, and lonely existence. Imagine their hope and excitement when into their village comes Jesus! The One who they have heard performs great miracles, and who is their only chance for healing. Now imagine their confusion when they cry out to Jesus for mercy and He simply responds by telling them to go and show themselves to the priests.
In that time the priests had the final say when it came to diagnosing leprosy. Only they could declare someone as being "clean" and free of the disease thereby allowing them back into society. I'm sure these men, looking down at their still infected bodies, wondered why Jesus would tell them to do such a thing. But it was in that moment that they had a decision to make. Stay where they were ravished with disease and hopeless, or to put their faith in Jesus and follow His command. They chose Jesus. And as they stepped forward in trust and left to find their priests, they were cleansed. End of story right? Not exactly. The Bible goes on to tell us that after realizing they had received their healing, only one of the ten, a Samaritan, returns to thank Jesus. This causes Jesus to ask why it was only him, this foreigner who returned. But why was Jesus upset? After all didn't the other nine do as He commanded and leave to find the priests?
All ten men had faith. But it was only this Samaritan who understood who Jesus truly was. Unlike his Jewish counterparts, He recognized Jesus not only as a divine Healer, but also as his Redeemer and his Savior. It is this realization that causes him to return glorifying God. He then falls at the feet of Jesus in praise and thankfulness knowing he is need of salvation. In turn Jesus tells him to, "Stand up and go; your faith has made you well." (v. 19).
All ten of the leprous men received physical healing based on their faith. But it was only the Samaritan who came to God in dependence and thankfulness. Because of this, he also received spiritual healing. Jesus expects us to show gratitude. Gratitude, giving thanks, and a grateful heart are all a part of God's will for our lives. And as important as it is to dedicating ourselves to following Christ in faith, it is just as important to remember to thank Him for all that He is, all that He does, and all that He blesses us with each and every day.