Give Thanks

For Sunday, October 9th, 2022


As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

Luke 17:11-19


How many of us have prayed from the heart in times of distress, saying something like: “God, if you do X, then I will do Y for you”? So many of us have experiences where we feel like we need God to powerfully intervene in our lives in various ways. And we might imagine these interventions happening in many different ways: a burning bush, the parting of waters, or, perhaps, some incredible healings. However, when these instances do occur they are usually much more subtle. Case in point: notice what happens to the ten lepers in today’s Gospel reading. 

As Jesus is coming into a village, ten lepers are standing “at a distance.” We know that those afflicted with the disease of leprosy were considered unclean (see Leviticus 13:45), and they were shunned from their communities (see Numbers 5:2-3). Clearly, these lepers are in a desperate situation. So, they cry out for help: “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” First, notice the respect the lepers show Jesus. Second, notice how they are asking for pity. The Greek word used for “pity” could also be translated as “mercy.” Even though we most likely cannot relate to their particular circumstances, we can relate to their desperate cry for mercy. 

So far, the ten lepers have the right idea—they begin by asking for mercy. In response to their plea and in accordance with what Mosaic Law teaches about the healing of leprosy, Jesus tells them to “show [themselves] to the priests” (see Leviticus 14:2). Amazingly, all ten obey Jesus’ command. They are walking to the temple—still with leprosy—to show the priests that they have been healed. What faith! Then, suddenly, all are cleansed. Truly, God works miracles. 

Presumably, the nine went racing to find the priests once they were healed. They were probably so excited to be healed that they just wanted to be accepted by society again. Only one returns to thank Jesus. How tragic is that? Can you imagine being thanked for doing a good job at school or at work only ten percent of the time? It’s hard when you go out of your way to help someone, and they don’t quite appreciate it. On a human level, it can create tension and a loss of trust in the relationship. Now apply that to your relationship with God. In reality, God is in need of nothing, but he desires our hearts. 

Take a moment to reflect on all that God has done for you in your life. Then, do as the one leper did: glorify God, and let your heart fall at the feet of Jesus, genuinely thanking him. Now make that a habit every time you encounter the Lord throughout your day. 

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