15 November 2017
We start with ten men who have the worst disease of their day. The physical ramifications are horrendous. Leprosy attacks the body, leaving sores, missing fingers, missing toes and damaged limbs. The emotional pain of a leper, however, must have been even worse than the physical pain. Lepers were removed from their families, from their communities. They were the walking dead.
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
Jesus consistently states that the faith of the petitioner is vital. Perhaps some of the ten mixed fear and desperation with faith but they cried out nevertheless – and Jesus responded…
“Go and show yourselves to the priests”.
There is no promise of healing – nothing. However, the men act on the Lord’s command. And it was in the act of obedience that they were healed.
It is inconceivable that a leper enduring the abject misery that he faced daily in the ancient world would not be grateful for receiving instant healing from the dreadful disease. But even though they were grateful, only one, a foreigner, returned to thank Jesus.
Jesus’ encounter with the ten lepers illustrates the importance of thanksgiving. It is one thing to feel grateful; it is another thing to express it – and herein lies the point.
All ten lepers raised their voices to Jesus asking for help. Once that help had been received only one raised his voice to praise God. Only one translated that cry for help into cries of thanks and public displays of affection.
This man had a clear understanding of what he had received and what it was worth. He was not afraid to publicly declare his thanks to God and declare the nature of his relationship with Jesus.
His healing brought him much nearer to Jesus than did the others. His thankfulness knitted him to Jesus with a blessed bond and enabled him to know God in a new way – and this knowledge could not help but set him on a fresh path for his life. Despite the healing, he will still know death but it will have no hold over him.
The healed Leper’s offering of thankfulness and praise provided him with a deeper, fuller experience of God. Let’s not short-change ourselves in coming into a deeper communion with the Lord by failing to be thankful.