This past Sunday the pastor talked about the ten lepers in his sermon from Luke 17:11-19.
Of necessity, lepers in that day were separated and quarantined from society so they wouldn’t give their disease to anyone else. This disease eats away at your body, and since there was no cure, lepers were essentially the walking dead. The lepers in this account were a mixture of Jews and Samaritans. Normally these people wouldn’t associate with each other and often hated each other, but their common suffering took away that barrier. Since these people couldn’t work around other people and whatever they touched was considered unclean, they were dependent on help from others to survive. So as Jesus walked towards the village outside of which they lived, these lepers called out to Him, having heard of His reputation for compassion.
They were some distance away from Jesus and His following so they wouldn’t spread their leprosy, but Jesus still noticed and cared. He told them to go show themselves to the priest. In Leviticus 13-14 there were rules about various skin conditions and what to do about them, as well as what to do whenever you were cleansed from leprosy. These people knew that, so obeyed Jesus and started off to see a priest.
At some point along the way they realized they no longer had leprosy! Imagine the excitement! After seeing the priest and going through the necessary steps to re-enter society, they could finally go back to their families and friends! No more isolated waiting to die. Nine of them continued on their way, while one, a Samaritan at that, decided that seeing a priest could wait. He had to go back to thank Jesus first!
On his way back to Jesus this man loudly glorified God, and once he saw Jesus, he went closer than he dared at their first meeting. He went near Jesus and bowed face down at his feet, giving Him thanks for healing him. Jesus wondered aloud where the others were, noting their failure to give praise to God. He then said to the grateful Samaritan that he could go, his faith had made him whole.
At this point we see obedience and gratefulness. The other nine were certainly still obeying Jesus as they went to see a priest, but they skipped over the gratitude. The Samaritan was obedient and grateful, gaining an experience with Jesus that the others did not.
How often do we obey God but then forget to show gratitude for what He does for us? How often are we the one grateful Samaritan and how often are we the ones who skipped being grateful? How often do we miss out on more with Jesus and how often do we take and make the time to experience more of Him?