One of them when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him- and he was a Samaritan.” Luke 17:15-17 NIV
Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem when 10 lepers cried out to him in loud voices from a distance. They were terminal, contagious, and had to keep away from others. “Jesus, Master, have pity on us.” Jesus heard their cry. “Go, show yourselves to the priests,” he said. And as they went they were healed.
One of the lepers returned to Jesus with praise and thanks. The other nine walked on, why? Were they too excited about the blessing they had received, too busy making plans? “How should we spend this new lease on life? What do we do with this dream come true?” Or, were they just in such a hurry to finally be together with their family and friends? And why would I fault them? Weren’t they obeying what Jesus commanded? Jesus told them “go.” He didn’t tell them to come over and give him praise. He didn’t call after them, “Hey, what do you say?” or “You’re welcome!”
I wonder, if I were one of the lepers, would I be the one who went back?
What made that one different? What entered his mind? What stopped him in his forward rushing tracks, and sent walking back, alone? I think he realized the gravity of the situation. He was a leper. And he was a Samaritan. This made him a double outsider. Maybe the others deep down thought they deserved what they finally got. He knew he didn’t. Jesus had seen and helped, him. There would be no more languishing in utter despair, no longer that life sentence of hopelessness. The weight of that blessing swung him around and swung him hard. Walk alone? Who cares. “I’m healed! I’m free! I’m falling at Jesus feet. Thank you Jesus! What can’t wait for me?”
I want to be swung around.
That one leper has me thinking about the magnitude of what Jesus has done for me. He has made it so that when God sees me he says “Clean! Spotless! Come in!” He’s healed my heart so I can be a life giving part of, an encouragement to, my family and community. I don’t want to rush head long into my blessings or dash ahead with my plans. I want to learn to be the one, the one who stops, and returns, to give thanks.
When we were overwhelmed by sins you forgave our transgressions. Psalm 65:3 NIV
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Luke 17:17-18 NIV