Jesus and his disciples were traveling along the border between Samaria and Galilee when they were approached by ten lepers. Though these men stood off at a “respectable” distance, they screamed out: “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (Luke 17:13 NIV)
Why did they ask for pity?
Likely because it was something they hadn’t known. None of the local villagers had ever shown them pity. In fact as soon as they were seen, most inhabitants ran for fear of contamination. But Jesus somehow seemed different to them.
And they weren’t disappointed. Jesus answered them briefly but to the point: “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” (Luke 17:14 NIV)
The only reason Jesus would say such a thing is because the priests were the ones to determine whether healing from such diseases had really occurred. Jesus knew the men would be healed by the time they reached the priests, and thus, they would not only have their leprosy removed, but their shame as well.
And sure enough, “As they went, they were cleansed.” (Luke 17:14 NIV)
It is interesting to note that they weren’t healed on the spot. They had to take a “walk of faith” in accordance to what Jesus had told them.
Just imagine walking in a place where you cannot see the path under your feet. Each time you step out, you do not know if your feet will meet solid ground or not, but miraculously, the path appears under your foot each time you set it down anew. This is an excellent illustration of the walk in faith! We do not see that our actions will bear fruit, but if we take that step of faith and do what Jesus asks, the path WILL appear under our feet, one step at a time, leading us through life! And this is the kind of walk the ten lepers were required to take. They didn’t see their healing immediately, but as they began their walk of obedience, to show themselves to the priests, their leprosy disappeared.
I wonder what might have happened if one of them hadn’t gone. It certainly wouldn’t have been a very good demonstration of faith!
Yes, these ten men took that step in faith. Or at least, they did initially, and they were healed. But then something absurd happened: only one of the ten came back to Jesus. This one, praising God with all his being, threw himself at Jesus’ feet in honour and gratitude, and this one was a Samaritan.
Now Samaritans were not exactly “highly esteemed” in that day and age, and Jesus went to the core of the matter in order to make his audience start to think: “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18 NIV) In other words, why would a Samaritan take the time to express his thankfulness towards Jesus, while the other nine, from the beloved country of Israel, did not? There’s something wrong here!
And why was that one thankful Samaritan healed?
“Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19 NIV)
So often we don’t even realize it when Jesus answers our prayers. We are so busy doing a myriad of other things that we don’t even notice. Where is our thankfulness when God comes through for us? This lack of gratefulness will catch up with us sooner or later, as thankfulness has its root in faith.
Let’s take Christmas Day, for example. If one of my boys opens his present from me, and then walks away without even a thank you, he would not only show a lack of appreciation, but it would give the message loud and clear: This gift is worthless! In other words, he didn’t have any faith in my ability to give him good gifts!
How terrible God must feel when we “open” His “presents” without acknowledgements!
“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph 5:19-20 NIV)
Is it possible that our lack of thankfulness can be the root of the bitterness that so often takes hold of our hearts? And once bitterness invades our soul, will it not also try to conquer our faith as well? For instead of ensuring that solid ground will appear under our feet when we take that walk in faith, unthankfulness and bitterness will erode that sure footing!
We saw something similar to this at Chimney Bluffs State Park in New York State. On the Lake Ontario beach that leads to the bluffs, the clay had been eroded by the lake, causing many of the mighty, strong, tall trees to fall.
Without sure footing we are really toast!
It really all boils down to what is important to us. To that Samaritan leper, the only One important to him was the One who showed pity towards him by healing him. No longer a reject of society, he had a lot to be thankful for.
Thank you Jesus for being my everything in life and for showing me Your mercy. No matter what life has to offer me I will thank You, as I know that You will always be with me, giving me the sure footing that I need. I love You Jesus! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Life can be compared to a roller coaster. We can either enjoy the thrill of the ride, or we can complain about how dizzy and scared it makes us. Why not thank Jesus for the ride and sit back to enjoy the thrill!
Thank you Jesus for the ride!
(To access the entire “Rivers of Faith” devotional series, please click here.)