Which Leper Are You?
Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us! “So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19
As I have been preparing my heart for the holiday season, a deep chord was struck when I read this passage. This story of the ten lepers, found in Luke 17:11-19 is quite familiar and yet it grabbed my attention in a new way. I have pondered it for days, mining for the treasures hidden within.
The ten lepers were social outcasts. They were forbidden by law and custom to come near those who were clean, for fear of infecting them. My guess is that at some point in the past year of covid, all have felt a bit leprous. “Distance yourself. Stay home. Cover your face. Stand back. Don’t touch. Don’t breathe.” But I can’t imagine living life as a leper. Every day secluded, outcast and labeled unclean.
When the lepers saw Jesus, they cried out from a distance for Jesus to have mercy on them. They must have heard of His miracles and hoped that He had one for them. So as a group of outcasts they cried out and asked for mercy. His answer to them was a bit strange on the surface. “Go show yourselves to the priests.” But it had great significance to these ten because they understood the law.
“Leviticus 13 and 14 regulated that it was a priest who may pronounce someone clean or unclean. The visit to a priest is necessary after being cleansed for the leper to be readmitted to society.” (Wikipedia)
Scripture goes on to tell us that “as they went, they were cleansed.” I draw a deep breath because it literally says that they were healed…as they went. It makes sense that they would be cleansed and then make their way to the priest to be declared clean. But no, Jesus tells them to go. Go before you see the evidence of healing. In the middle of their ordinary steps, healing came to their bodies. Often God gives us crazy steps of obedience before we see Him move. It is His grace teaching us to live by faith.
Something deeper happened to “the one.” When he saw his cleansing, his healing, he returned to Jesus. Only one out of ten was filled with true praise and thanksgiving.
He returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.
With that same loud voice that cried out for mercy for his condition, he returned with a heart full of gratitude and thanksgiving. Jesus took note of the lack of gratitude from the other nine.
“Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”
Charles Spurgeon said, “Nine obeyed the ritual, where only one praised the Lord.”
But the story doesn’t end there. Let’s not miss the rest of this wonderful story. There was a deeper healing made available to the one filled with thanksgiving.
And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
Made you well. The greek word is “sozo,” meaning “saved, healed, delivered.” It is salvation; fullness of life. The greater healing came out of thanksgiving.This “one” wasn’t only healed from leprosy but he was saved. He was given full abundant life.
So I ask you the same question I am asking myself.
Which leper are you? Are you the one full of thanksgiving and gratitude?
If so, never stop returning to give thanks, praise and adoration to the King of Kings.
If not, let’s ask God to awaken us to a new and deeper thanksgiving. A deep gratitude that goes beyond the Thanksgiving Table. Thanksgiving that cries out in a loud voice. Gratitude that walks crazy steps of obedience and always returns to give thanks to the One who deserves all praise.
May your Thanksgiving be filled with true THANKSGIVING.
I would love to invite you to subscribe to a new podcast that I co-host with my dear friend Kim Stanley. You can find us where you listen to your other favorite podcast. Here is a link to our Thanksgiving Week episode.