In Luke 17:11-19 Jesus has an encounter with ten lepers. These men were desperate. They had no meaningful medical treatment. They had a communicable disease which required their separation from healthy people due to the dangers it posed to the community. They were isolated, poverty-stricken, and apparently beyond help. Yet they called out to Jesus for help.
Jesus’ answer seems odd at first. He tells them to show themselves to the priests. This was a typical step in the cleansing process. If a person thought his disease had run its course, he could show himself to the priest for certification of cleansing. These men had no evidence that they were healed. It was as they went to be examined by the priests that they received their healing. There was no earthly reason for them to expect a healing. But they went ahead and accepted Jesus’ word.
We would expect the story to be over there. Jesus brings healing for people who accept his words. But there is more. One of the ten returned to thank Jesus. Just one of the people. And he was a foreigner, a Samaritan. This was one of the people who would not be accepted in polite Jewish society whether he was healthy or not.
It seems that often the people who have less experience with healing and forgiveness are those who are quick to express their thanks. Here in the fairly affluent and healthy Western world we take medical care and treatment almost for granted. We rarely consider the fact that a condition could kill us. We often consider the fact that our recovery takes too long, the treatment costs too much, or there was some annoying condition in the waiting room. Likewise within the Church. Those who are too accustomed to God’s outpoured grace are prone to take it for granted.Those who, like the Samaritan in our Bible passage, have long been separated from grace, will return thanks again and again.
May the Lord give us a spirit of thanksgiving.
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